Greenwich firefighters remember Invicta school bombing

Invicta memorial
Firefighters and pupils at the Invicta memorial this morning (photo: Steve Hunnisett)

Last year, The Charlton Champion visited Invicta Primary School in Siebert Road to see a memorial plaque unveiled to commemorate the 15 people killed when it was bombed in 1940. This morning, firefighters returned to remember the dead. Local war historian STEVE HUNNISETT was there.

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.

This morning’s wreath laying was carried out by Richard Melrose, station manager at Greenwich Fire Station and the Watch Manager of White Watch and was the third such ceremony since the plaque was installed by the charity Firemen Remembered in March 2017.


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Invicta Primary School remembers 15 killed in wartime bombing

The unveiled plaque in the assembly hall

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 exploded.

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 is erected in the playground

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.

There’s more about the bombing of Invicta Road School on the Blitzwalkers blog.

Invicta school plaque

Former Invicta Primary School pupil? You’re invited to its street party on 19 March

Invicta Primary School

Recognise yourself in these photos? If you’re an old pupil or teacher at Invicta Primary School, you’re invited to a street party to mark the end of its old 1950s buildings.

Invicta Primary School

Thousands of Charlton children have been educated in those old buildings – among the school’s former pupils is actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who namechecked it and Sherington when he won a Bafta in 2008.

Now former staff and pupils are invited to a street party on Saturday 19 March to mark the closure of the old buildings and their replacement with new facilities built on the old playground.

Invicta Primary School

Invicta Primary School

The old buildings replaced the original school, destroyed by a parachute mine in 1940. Considering it was an infant school for much of its existence, these must be a bit of a squeeze for older pupils.

Invicta Primary School

Invicta Primary School

Here are the new buildings – apparently due for completion in April. The school’s also expanding in other ways, opening a new site in Deptford to replace the old Charlotte Turner School.

If you recognise yourself in those old photos, want to share your memories of the school, or want more information about the street party, drop the school a line at admin[at]invictaprimary.co.uk.