Remembrance

To coincide with Remembrance Day, here is a letter from a St Asaph's Road resident following a bombing raid in September 1940. The letter was found by Tressillian James on the BBC 's People's War website:


My dear Win,

Just a line to let you know we are all safe although we have had a terrible time since Friday night.

Brockley had its first bombs Friday night 2 houses in Brockley Rd nearly opposite the water trough, Brakespear Rd Tressillian Rd St Cyripian’s Church etc... I had to walk home and about every hundred yards along OK Rd {Old Kent Road] had been bombed so you can imagine my feeling as what to expect in Brockley, the first signs came when reaching St Katherine’s [St Catherine’s church Hatcham in Pepys Road SE14] our church got 2 bombs and is a reck [sic] Vesta Rd 2 houses and a number of incendiary bombs in Drakefell [Road parallel to St Asaph], St Asaph [our home road] Avignon [a road intersecting with St Asaph] etc. one dropped outside Pattons [next door neighbours] but was a dud what luck.

Read the full letter here. And don't forget the unique Remembrance Day celebration "Up the Line" this evening at Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery, from 7pm.

31 comments:

TJ said...

There's a series of six letters on the site (link below). Interesting & disturbing reading as they include accounts of a live parachute bomb swinging from a lamppost; diving for cover in Adelaide Ave gardens as German fighters gun/bomb Hilly Fields; and distraught parents wandering the street after their child was killed in a raid.

Lest we forget.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/user/34/u2516034.shtml

Emmajem said...

Many thanks for posting - the letters make emotional reading.

Indeed, lest we forget.

Anonymous said...

Looks like being nasty weather tonight,hey but who cares.

Headhunter said...

I read all those letters and anecdotes. Fascinating if harrowing. He refers to photos he has enclosed a couple of times but they don't seem to be accessible. Interesting to read that on VE Day there was an enormous street party on Asaph Rd with a massive bonfire in the middle of the street outside his family home which he says damaged the road surface and he said that from then on (1945) you could hear traffic bumping over the damage into the 1980s! It clearly took 40 years to repair the road damage. What hope is there of repairing some of the potholes from last winter?!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what kind of stomach-churning experience must if be to walk home past burning houses, just waiting to find out whether or not your road had been hit

Anonymous said...

Seems the roads haven't changed much.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

What has changed is that people have stopped writing letters since the advent of txt and e-mail.

Which means no permanent record for future historians.

Brockley Nick said...

The Library of Congress is archiving all the world's tweets. British Library is thinking of doing the same. Blogs, social networks and emails have seen an explosion in the amount of personal thoughts and stories written down. I don't think future historians will struggle.

Tamsin said...

They'll struggle with just too much data...

One nice thing about ancient greek literature - you can actually read all of it.

Brockley Nick said...

Or to put it another way:

"One nice thing about ancient Greek literature is that there wasn't very much of it."

We could just delete 99.9999% of the historical record, if it would make it more digestible for you Tamsin.

Tamsin said...

I wasn't being entirely serious. I haven't studied it myself but I have a friend who has and the really frustrating thing is the rare snippets that survive as quotes in other authors' works.

On the history side, though, I have heard debate on the radio about the difficulties of there being just so much in the way of papers, newspapers, diaries, recorded footage relating to the mid decades of the 20th Century compared with, say, the 18th and 19th. And if tweets and e-mails are being banked somewhere the weight of material is even greater. On the other hand it is probably something that will be ameliorated by technology and ever improving automatic search facilities.

Brockley Nick said...

Quite. The internet has put more information than we could possibly consume at our fingertips, but Google et al make it easier than ever to find out what we want.

By the logic of your earlier post, it would be better to scrap the internet and rely on an encyclopaedia.

Tressilliana said...

On the contrary, Tamsin, you can't read all that much of ancient Greek literature. Every copy of every text was hand-written and most have been lost, not least because of the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria. Fragments of papyrus turn up in the desert but it's rare to find a papyrus with more than a few lines from a literary text. Most are letters, wills and shopping lists, also fascinating, but not perhaps quite as valuable as one of the lost plays of Sophocles.

What we have now are the works and parts of works that did survive, largely because monks all over Europe kept on copying old texts and storing them, until the arrival of printing made it a lot less likely that texts would disappear altogether.

[spot the Classicist!]

Brockley Nick said...

Who needs the Library of Alexandria when you have the collected knowledge of the people of Brockley.

Tamsin said...

To stay drifting up this by-way for one more post, I don't know about you but I now find there's too much thrown up by Google - particularly on an image search. Talking the other day to people working in programming for digital publishing and they were saying that the next steps were to introduce some form of human intervention and moderation, rather than relying on totally automated searches.

Also even digital takes space - anyone recall the (I think) Ann McCaffery short story (or maybe it was Andre Norton) that well anticipated the web and using computers as confessional - with students tasked with reviewing and deleting old material?

Tamsin said...

@ Tressiliana - I did mean surviving Greek literature, hence my reference in the next post to the frustration of what we know of only as fragmentary quotes in other works.

buy your spade here said...

I don't know about you but I now find there's too much thrown up by Google - particularly on an image search.

Yep, too much information is always a bad thing....

Monkeyboy said...

The internet is masivly diversified so I doubt the info will ever be really deleted. Searching for it may be a challange but I'm sure there's some uber-geek who will find a way.

Tamsin said...

It is a bad thing if you are looking for an image of a specific item and find the search engine chucks thousands of photographs at you many of which seem to have no relation to the topic at all - except presumably the key-word mentioned somewhere in the accompanying site.

On the other hand I've just re-done a former search to check on what I've said and didn't find the same problem. Someone is listening out there!

To go back on topic - the weather for Up the Line was perfect - not raining nor too cold but intermittently sufficiently overcast to give a lot of lambent light. Hope people enjoyed it...

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

I just worry that a rogue magnet will go on the rampage in one of these digital libraries.........

;-)

drakefell debaser said...

I enjoyed Up The Line but would not have missed the wind.

Regarding image searching, Google enhanced the functionality of its search engine about 6 months ago so that you can refine your search.

Monkeyboy said...

But where else will the collected works of Lou and Cat Man be archived?

Incedently I'm self publishing a book of selected cat quotes. Will be out in time for crimbo. It's called "it's illegal to be racist if you're black"

Brockley Nick said...

Is that an actual quote!?

drakefell debaser said...

MB, don't forget to include an exclusive interview with the cat’s lodger from Botswana, a complimentary CD of steel band hits and a few postcards of the real Christmas markets of Winchester.

drakefell debaser said...

Oh, and perhaps you could do a follow up with a cookbook of acceptable 'fusion' cooking.

Monkeyboy said...

Hummble appologies to The Cat, he was far less snappy. The actual quote was...

"......I know non-black people would be critised for being racist if they said this but black people cant legally be racist.

1 February 2008 18:04 "

Brockley Nick said...

It's a good job that the historians of the future will be super-intelligent robots, because I can't make head nor tail of that sentence.

Monkeyboy said...

I'm holding out for my personality to be downloaded to a 59p iPhone App. I'll be in pockets everywhere.

oryx said...

That was a really interesting story and the link to the BBC People's War is fascinating reading.

Indeed, imagine coming home from a night in the shelters unsure if you still had a home......:-(

So many newer houses amid older ones (there's a good example in Stillness Road, SE23 - not quite Brockley I know) are a sad reminder of people's homes destroyed.

Headhunter said...

I find the thought of V2s the most terrifying. Radar picked up heavy bomber planes as they crossed the sea heading towards London so sirens could be set off before the planes arrived. V1s were fairly noisy until their engines cut out, however V2s, the world's 1st missiles, lierally meant yuo could be sitting at home watching TV and next second one could go off in the street leaving you buried under a pile of rubble with broken bones... There was NO warning at all. Good thing they nazis didn't develop them earlier in the war or they could have destroyed public morale and brought the country down.

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