Meet Our Girls

Ivy Higgins 

Ivy outside the Brook War Hospital

Ivy Higgins is a Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse who lives in Charlton,  1918. She is in her last week of training at the Brook War Hospital in Shooters Hill. Soon Ivy will be heading to Charlton House, Auxiliary Red Cross Hospital. She will be one of  55 VAD nurses stationed there.

Ivy worked in the Post Office before war broke out in 1914, but after the sad death of her elder brother Ivy joined the VADs. Ivy’s sweetheart Henry is fighting in France, she hasn’t had a letter from him for some time and is very worried. She hopes to hear from him soon but in the meantime she waits patiently. Though she has very little time to rest, her work means she is up early and home late. With beds to make and medicines to administer, Ivy has lots to do.

May Pinson 

May Pinson and Ollie the dog.

Like thousands of women in 1916, May is juggling being a mother, wife and war worker. A year ago in 1915 May and her family – her husband Joseph, her son Teddy and daughter Norah – moved into a newly built house on the Well Hall Estate. The Estate was still being built but May’s family were the lucky few who got a house. A year later and May is enjoying her new home, with an indoor bathroom, but the war is hitting home. Her youngest son Teddy is desperate to follow his elder brother to war but May is worried. Her eldest, Joe, has been serving in the Army since the start of war in 1914. He writes regularly but his last few letters have lowered May, Joe begs his mum not to let Teddy go to the front, to stop him joining up – things are bad. But conscription has been introduced and May might not be able to stop Teddy going. Meanwhile with the Zeppelin raids overhead and wartime shortages May is finding things tough, but she carries on – working at the Royal Arsenal in munitions and running a household.

Ollie, May’s dog

Ollie, the Pinson’s dog

Ollie is the Pinson’s pet dog. A Staffordshire Bull Terrier. He moved with the family from
Peckham to the Well Hall Estate in 1915. He’s beloved by Norah, May’s daughter who feeds him her left overs under the table and despite getting under her feet,  May is rather fond of him.

Nell Clancy 

Nell a Munition Worker

Nell is a munitions worker at the Royal Arsenal in 1916. She works in the danger buildings where all the dangerous work such as fuse making and filling shells with explosives takes place. She’s a feisty character, proud of her work. She enjoys her work, her friends –  signing on nights shifts and the extra money she’s earning comes in handy. She lives with other munition girls in one of the many hostels which have sprung up across the borough to house the influx of Arsenal workers. She’s been asked to recruit new workers to the Arsenal so she’s off out and about recruiting new munitions workers.




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Funded by a Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund