After the War

In 1918 a flu pandemic began spreading across the world which was ultimately killed more people than the war itself.  It was possibly spread by returning soldiers and in England came in a series of phases.  From the burial records of St John  the Baptist church, Eltham it is possible to see how it affected the population of Well Hall during the autumn and early winter of 1918.  Unusually, young adults (aged 20 to 40 yrs) were most vulnerable.

On a happier note a welcome home event was being planned for soldiers and sailors returning after the war.  it was being held at the Gordon School on Saturday March 22nd 1919.  Unfortunately there is no record of the soldiers who were involved in the war and who survived either scathed or unscathed.

I imagine that the period from 1918 onwards might have seen a lot of change on the estate as many workers were no longer needed at the Arsenal – perhaps they moved from the area, or perhaps they loved Well Hall estate so much they found other work and stayed on. It’s certainly not clear if a condition of tenancy continued to be working at the Arsenal and in 1925 the estate had its name changed to The Progress Estate when it became the responsibility of a company largely owned by the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society.  In 1971 its value in architectural and historical terms was recognised by its designation as a Conservation Area.

 

Blog Written By: Lynne

Blog Maintained By: Megan

Death of a Crimean Veteran

 

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It seems somehow appropriate that in this, my final blog, I should comment on an article looking back to a previous war. Given Richard Cooney’s participation at Sebastopol, it is fitting that he should live just long enough to know of another great battle – the Somme – and all the more so in that it ended on the very same day as his own death.

The significance of such individuals’ passing is obviously that with them dies the direct link to the past; from then on they are merely shadows, unable consciously to contribute any more to their story than they already have. Yet, paradoxically, we are also brought into closer contact with our collective past by such events: the cutting hints at what the present generation owes to its predecessor and, in the sense of an era passing, there is the unspoken realisation that the link will soon be gone forever.

There is, I think, a strong echo of our own time in this cutting, counting down, as we were a few years ago, the last few veterans of the First World War until, in 2012, the last of them passed away[1]. As we look back on those looking back from their own time, we may well ponder who will look back on us a hundred years from now and, as we do so, reflect on our own fate as tomorrow’s history.

Article: Death of a Crimean Veteran, Eltham & District Times, 24 November 1916, p.7

Blog Written By: James

Blog Maintained By: Megan

[1] Florence Beatrice Green (died 4 February 2012, aged 110) was the last known surviving First World War veteran of any belligerent nation. She served as an officers’ mess steward in the final months of the war in the newly-created Women’s Royal Air Force. Strangely, she was born in Edmonton (my home town), just along the road from Thomas Barnsby, subject of my July blog ‘Pioneer Man’s Experience of the Big Push’. Harry Patch (died 25 July 2009, aged 111) was the last surviving British veteran of the trenches, outliving Henry Allingham (died 18 July 2009, aged 113) by a week.