Children at Invicta Primary School gathered this afternoon to remember the 15 people who died when the school was bombed during World War II.
Year 2 children joined White Watch from East Greenwich Fire Station for the short ceremony, 79 years to the day after the then Invicta Road School – which was being used as a fire station – was destroyed by a parachute mine which fell into trees opposite the school before exploding. Twelve firefighters and three others died.
Among those at today’s ceremony were members of the family of Harry Dixon, one of the firefighters who died that night.
Local historian Steve Hunnisett led the ceremony, which came as the Year 2 children spent a day learning all about World War II. Steve was also on hand to talk to the children about the war, showing them shrapnel, an air-raid whistle, a gas mask and other items; while the firefighters also took questions from the children.
The plaque was installed at the school in 2017 by Firemen Remembered, an independent organisation devoted to raising awareness of the work of the fire services during World War II. It is on a Victorian wall at the back of the playground, the only remaining part of the original school. The replacement 1950s buildings were demolished in 2016 when the current school opened on the site of the old playground.
A simple and informal ceremony this morning saw the present day firefighters from Greenwich Fire Station honouring their Second World War counterparts, twelve of whom were killed at Invicta Primary School on the night of 14 November 1940 when the school was in use as Station 54X of the Auxiliary Fire Service.
Ironically, it was a quiet night in London, with the main focus of the Luftwaffe’s attacks being the city of Coventry. It was because of this lack of activity in the capital that the firemen based at Invicta Road were still at their station when the parachute mine that was to destroy the school drifted down. The explosion buried the men under tons of rubble and apart from the twelve firemen, three civilians, including the school caretaker, were killed.
A plaque remembering the 15 people killed when Invicta Primary School was bombed in World War II was unveiled last week at a special ceremony.
12 firefighters and three others were killed when the then Invicta Road School – then being used as a fire station – was destroyed by a parachute mine on the evening of 14 November 1940. The bomb fell into trees opposite the school before exploding.
Among those who died was fireman Arthur Grant, who was in line for a George Medal for his bravery in preventing the school being destroyed in an earlier attack.
School caretaker Charles White, who stayed behind after the children were evacuated to the countryside, also died.
The plaque was revealed to pupils at special assemblies last Thursday, where children sang wartime songs and read their own poems before reading out the names of those who died.
Visitors to the school can now see the plaque on a Victorian wall next to the playground, which is the only surviving remnant of the original school buildings. Firemen Remembered, which made the plaque, is an independent organisation devoted to raising awareness of the work of London’s fire services during World War II.
The replacement 1950s buildings were demolished last year after the school moved into new accommodation on the site of its old playground.