Near Miss

By kind permission of John King, Author

The days of the Zeppelin were undoubtedly numbered in Germany, but this did not stop a raid by several Zeppelins on the night of 19 October. The mission was not successful in seeking industrial targets in the Midlands and North but one airship did fly over London after being blown off course and southwards. Three bombs had already been dropped on Northampton. killing three people, but the crew was lost and only by chance recognised London. Bombs were dropped on the northern suburbs before passing over S E London where two 660 lb bombs were discharged, killing twenty-six people. The suburbs affected were Camberwell and Hither Green. By this time censorship was very strict and only the names and not addresses of local fatalities were reported in the local papers. The area affected adjoined Hither Green Station and included roads such as Leahurst Road. It was not the last Zeppelin raid, but the last on London. The Gotha raids were not finished, however, and on 31 October 270 explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped on London’s eastern and S E outskirts. Lewisham was undamaged but ten people were killed at Erith, Belvedere, Woolwich, Greenwich and MillwalI.

No Grove Park people had died as a result of enemy raids on London, but the slaughter in France did not exclude them. Many Grove Park people would have known Ralph Thimann, a wireless operator in the RFC who died on 12 October from wounds received the previous day. He was the son of the Principal of the Modern High School, and brother of the composer Eric Thimann. Other deaths included H L Adams of the 17th Welsh, whose elder brother Ernest managed Durham Farm.

Not directly related to hostilities was the death of Mrs Flynn of 4 Grove Park Terrace who fell from her flat above her teashop which she and her husband had opened earlier in the war to serve the troops. Her husband was in the first Canadian Contingent to France where he had been killed in 1915. She had lately become neurotic and was being treated by Dr Lansdale.

Another teashop had been opened in the tobacconist opposite Sydenham Cottages in Marvels Lane by William Winkworth’s wife. The shop was known to the recruits as “Winky’s”.

An entry in the St Mildred’s magazine for November noted that a Baby Welfare Centre had been opened at St Margaret’s Parish Room in Old Road. The vicar described it as part of the municipal scheme to carry out educational propaganda by way of simple talks to mothers on ante-natal and post-natal care, clothing of infants and related matters.


On a spiritual note was the visit on 2 December to St Augustine’s by the Bishop of Woolwich to dedicate a window which had been placed in the church by Mr & Mrs Knight, formerly of Enfield House in Baring Road, in memory of their son Captain John F Knight, RFA, who had died in action in 1916 and their son-in-law Major Kriekenbeek of the Indian Army who had died at Beit-Eissa. The Bishop also dedicated a Bishop’s Chair, given to the church by Herbert Ellercamp in memory of his wife who died in 1914.
Another visitor to South Lee a week later was C H Spurgeon who preached to two large congregations at the Baptist Church.

Back to Grove Park in the First World War

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