Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Stories of the Great War from Eltham and Woolwich ............. nu 1 the milestone on Shooters Hill

An occasional series reflecting on the impact of the Great War.

Now I have to say I never really knew the story of the war memorial outside Christ Church on Shooters Hill.

I will have passed it countless times, but when you are young war memorials scarcely register especially when there is the promise of an unknown adventure in the woods behind.

But reading it now is to be reminded of the terrible loss of life during the Great War.

The inscription is simple and to the point.

What gives the memorial its added significance is that it is part of an older milestone of which I knew nothing.

And for that knowledge I have Tricia Lesley to thank who unearthed a wonderful history of Woolwich which gives a detailed description of the milestone and the war memorial.

“Originally on the other side of the road, having been placed there by the New Cross Turnpike Trust, the eighth milestone out of London on the Old Dover Road was accidentally fractured by a Borough Council steam roller during road repairs in 1903.

The Dartford plate had been totally destroyed in the collision.

It was thrown aside to be broken up but Vicar Wilson, with authority from the Borough Engineer removed the pieces to the church grounds where they were dowelled together and set up near the church door.

When the church war memorial was being discussed, Col. Bagnold, chairman of the parish war memorial committee, suggested fixing on the eastern side of the stone a plate indicating the distance to Ypres, with the addition of figures telling of the casualties incurred in defending the salient.  

The Director-general of the Ordinance Survey was called and arrived at the figure of 130 miles to the cloth Hall, correct to one-tenth of a mile.

The whole memorial was unveiled by Major General Sir Webb Gillman and dedicated by the Rector of Woolwich in October, 1922."*

All of which leaves me to say I have the book on order, and wish I had the opportunity to repeat the magic adventure in the woods.

Pictures; memorial stone, courtesy of Running Past, @running_past, Shooters Hill, courtesy of Jean Gammons, 1977 and cover of The Woolwich Story 

* The Woolwich Story, 1970, E. F. E. Jefferson.

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