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The London Blitz

by threecountiesaction

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Archive List > United Kingdom > London

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Dennis Branfield
Location of story: 
Greenwich, Pier
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
18 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War Site by Katie Holyoak, 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.

It was the start of the Blitz on London. The bombs just rained down, also incendiaries. These bombs set the east end alight, the docks, the isle of dogs, etc.
I lived in Greenwich opposite, the other side of the river Thames, between my house and Greenwich Pier was a small hotel called ‘The Ship.’ The manager was a friend of ours. It was late evening and he invited us all to stand on the balconies to watch these terrible, but spectacular scenes. The river looked on fire with reflection from the burning houses etc.
A tug-boat towing a barge, came round the bend of the river. It was going up river towards the city, as it just passed us, the barge broke into flames. The crew released the tow rope and the barge slowly drifted towards the pier. This pier was used as a base for the fire floats. One was docked there that night, and on board were dozens of cans of engine fuel waiting to be used.
The people on the pier could see the impending danger and formed a chain to remove the cans.
The barge was within about 10 feet of the pier when one fire man slipped and fell into the river. He was pulled out with seconds to spare.
We stayed on those balconies until about 3-4a.m. Watching. I shall never forget it.

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