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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Life in the Air Raid Shelter: In Lewisham

by Greenwich Heritage Centre

Contributed by 
Greenwich Heritage Centre
People in story: 
Joyce Snipps
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
03 July 2004

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Chris Foord of the Greenwich heritage Centre on behalf of Joyce Snipp and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

We used the underground street air raid shelter in Mercia Grove Lewisham. At the bottom of the stairs there were four bays. Each bay had a wooden slatted seat at either side, along its length. Also, there were bucket type toilets. There was one escape hatch shared by each two bays, with a square opening between the bays to get through, in an emergency, to the street above. We soon made the shelter comfortable, with rugs for the floor and a parafin stove for warmth and to boil a kettle. We slept on the floor and on the benches. After a while, bunks were installed. These served as seats during the day when it was a public shelter and at night we were issued shelter tickets and a designated bunk number. The walls were decorated with pictures of "Woman's Own" cover girls, their faces touched up with some lipstick. The Salvation Army were very good and came with sausage rolls and hot drinks. The local vicar also paid us a visit. Soon there was a sink installed and a small portable oven, for which we paid a small rental fee. When the blitz was at its height we went down at 6.30 after the evening meal, until the all clear, or until it was time to get ready to go to work the next day. On the long summer evenings (double British summertime) we played gramophone records in the street and danced to the music, when all was quiet, no Jerry's above.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Mercia Grove Shelter

Posted on: 24 July 2005 by cleverJoyceyB

Hello to Chris at Greenwich Heritage Centre. I have read my stories.So far the person who said he would like to know more about Mercia Grove has never got in touch. I seem to think to have seen your reply to him,on the page of my story,but now I cannot find it.Best Wishes Joyce Snipp

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