- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Dennis A Branfield, Iris Sherrett, Uncle Jack Sherrett.
- Location of story:
- Grenwich SE10 London
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 25 July 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War Site by Sabrina Parkar, for Three Counties Action, on behalf of Dennis Branfield, and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
4-9-39 My 11th birthday. My family moved from Eastbourne to Greenwich in 1940. was bombed out, moved to Bedford. 1945 visited my Gran in Greenwich, stayed the night. Met a girl I had known since we were babes in prams. We sat on the steps of Thames talking. 2 or 3 VI’s came over and dropped, but not near. About 10.30 Iris’s dad came out of the ship hotel bar, chatted a bit, and told me to get his Iris home by 11.30pm. I duly took her home; she lived about 30yds from my Gran. 6am the next morning, the windows blew in; ceilings came down, got dressed, went out and saw the flats where Iris lived. Was half frightened! I joined the rescue workers and we brought out 2 survivors from the basement. I knew Iris and her family would be there, fairly safe. It wasn’t until about 9.30am that one lady rescued, said that Iris and her family did not sleep in the basement that night. Her mother told this lady that she was fed up sleeping there. They had not slept in their own beds for 4 years. So Iris, her mother and little sister were killed. ‘Uncle’ Jack was a skipper of ‘The Sunshine’ tugboat. He was at Woolwich when all this happened. Evidently the police went and fetched him and he just stood there. I wanted to speak to him, but what could a 16-year-old boy say to him. I returned to Bedford that day with my Gran. I never saw him again. I carried on helping the rescue work; a few buzz bombs were falling. A rescue man asked for help. I went over and they had found this man. I knew him; he owned the sweet shop next door to the flats. He had a concrete lintel across his chest. He was talking to us. We lifted this lintel off him and he just died. November 1990 I was driving home from work. I had the local radio station on and the presenter was asking for volunteers to review books. The book was about The Blitz. I got home, phoned the situation and I asked what part of London it covered and I was told Greenwich. When I told him that’s where I was I got the job. I read the book. There were places I knew, people I knew, not their real names, but where you would find a man with no legs, played in the local pubs as a pianist, and a very good one. He used to sit outside my Gran’s window, listening to me practising my playing. At the end of the book, the heroine helped lift a concrete lintel off of this trapped man, and then he died. The author told me in a letter to me that she was able to access all the old reports and files that Greenwich Council had kept since the war. I can vouch that most of the story was true, except I lifted that concrete lintel.
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