Stories of Camberwell residents killed in WWI Zeppelin raid to be told

Chiara Giordano (31 August, 2017) Culture

18799The Boyce family, who lived across the road from a doctor's surgery in Camberwell destroyed by a Zeppelin bomb. Children Eddie (left) and Sonny (middle) lost their lives during the 'silent raid' in October 1917.

The stories of those killed and injured in a WWI Zeppelin bombing raid over what is now Burgess Park are to be unearthed for the first time.

Almost a century ago, on October 19, 1917, a bomb landed in Calmington Road, killing ten people, injuring 24, and demolishing a fish and chip shop, a doctor’s surgery, and houses.

Amongst the tales to be told are that of Henry Boyce-Balls and his second wife Nellie Darville, who lived over their grocers shop with their five young children. Only a few of the family survived the bombing.

The Friends of Burgess Park’s ‘Zeppelin 1917’ project will uncover the stories of local heroes and piece together the dramatic raid during a festival of events this year.

Jon Pickup and Andrew Pearson are heading up the project – made possible by a £9,800 Heritage Lottery Fund grant – and are keen for volunteers to come forward to help.

“We’ll be visiting the Imperial War Museum and Southwark Heritage Library to look into archive material about the people who lived in the street,” said Mr Pickup.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to do some original research and uncover hidden stories.”

The size of the Zeppelin bomb mapped onto today’s Burgess Park in a Friends of Burgess Park reconstruction

Southwark Council has also appointed artist Sally Hogarth to create an artwork for Burgess Park.

Cllr Johnson Situ, cabinet member for business, culture and social regeneration, said: “This fabulous project celebrates the bravery and heroic actions of the people of the borough 100 years ago.

“Qualities that were equally abundant during recent tragic events here in Southwark.

“We are happy to help commemorate the valour of local residents on the historic anniversary of the terrible Zeppelin strike in Burgess Park, by funding a new work of art for the park, from the excellent Sally Hogarth.”

John Whelan will bring together historical research with volunteers to tell the story of the raid through an animated walk.

And Stephen Bourne, a local historian and author, will talk about black servicemen as well as the men and women who stayed at home and played a heroic role in the civil defence.

Stuart Hobley, head of HLF London, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond.

“With our small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities like those involved in Zeppelin 1917 to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

For more information, visit: www.friendsofburgesspark.org.uk/tag/calmington-road/