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15 October 2014
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Peckham in the Second World War

by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Edward George; father: Edward George, mother: Mabel George (nee Bond)
Location of story: 
Peckham, south-east London
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
03 January 2006

I was twenty years old at the beginning of the war. I knew I would be conscripted. I didn’t really think much about the dangers, and maybe I was even looking forward to it because it was a change from work. I didn’t have any choice about which of the forces I joined, but I wasn’t bothered which one anyway. I was told it would be the army about a month before I was called up in 1940 and then I spent about five years in the army. First I was based in Leicester for about eighteen months, and then I was transferred to Droitwich. I had every weekend off but it was still difficult to keep in touch with old friends who were also in the forces. Later in the war I served in India.

I was always good at numbers and I went into the payroll department of the Royal Army Corps where I kept accounts of soldiers’ wages. It was a huge amount of work. We had huge binders to keep the paperwork organised. Everyone in the army had an account and each pay office had certain regiments it was responsible for. We kept a record of soldiers’ wages each week. Soldiers would be paid in cash and they were paid the same regardless of holidays or illness.

When I went home to Peckham I saw how life was being affected there. I remember once when a shelter was hit in Commercial Way: there were pieces of flesh hanging off the telephone and telegraph wires. My mum spent the nights in a brick shelter while my dad went to work at Sidcup Garage. He was a night worker and he would leave at about 9 o’clock to go to Eltham. Sometimes I would walk with him to go the pub on his way to work. One night when my dad had gone to work and I was going to my mum’s, bombs dropped a few yards from the pub while I was still in there. There were huge water tanks standing by; the pub windows were shattered. I kept patting my head and only slowly realised that it was covered in pieces of glass and bleeding. I went to the first aid station where it took them an hour to get all the glass out before they bandaged my head. My mum had a shock when she saw me.

Before I was called up I was in the Home Guard, working mainly in schools at night. I did the training, and afterwards I found out that they were mainly used by different services like old people’s homes. Fires would be dealt with by the fire service. I got three bob a night for fire-watching.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Clare George on behalf of Edward George and has been added to the site with his permission. The authr fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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