Grandpa

MEMORIES
by John William Moore 1876 to 1968

Talking to a friend one day, I said I was miserable having nothing to do, he said why not write the story of your life. I said I do not think that would interest anybody. He said well it would pass your time, I thought it over and came to the conclusion it was not a bad idea to leave some record behind, because the younger generation seem to forget that their elders were once young, and were not always the nothings they take them for. If one wishes to speak of old days, they do not want to listen. Well I will do the best I can.
I was born at 60 Beadnell Rd, Forest Hill, on May 31st 1876. My father and grandfather were both John Moore and were Londoners. My father at 18 years went to Canada, at 21 years , he came back for a holiday, he met my mother at the Crystal Palace and got married to her, and never went back.
My mother was Georgina Fullford and her mother was Elizabeth Fullford (nee Childs) who came from Fareham Hants. Her father was John Fullford who came from Gosport , Hants. I never heard whether she was born in Hants or Forest Hill, my parents lived with my grandmother for a time, afterwards at Ewart Rd, then Malham Rd, then Bouvill Rd, all Forest Hill.
I went to Dalmain Rd School. there was no free education at that time we paid so much a week, I forget how much, when I was 11 years of age my father insisted I should go for a labour certificate, at that time you could leave school at any age providing you passed the 7th standard. I passed the 5th at Dalmain Rd, the 6th at Clark's school, Sunderland Hill, and 7th at Holy Trinity Dartmouth Rd.
I started to learn my trade at once and was a full blown workman at 16. I worked for my father until 18 then for several firms. At 21 I was offered the job as a foreman for a firm Stidolph of Dartford. I then got married and went to live at Dartford.
I married Amy Russell, who I had courted since she was 15 and I was 17. We had a furnished room at first but afterwards a house at 21 Tower Rd.
When I was 14 we moved from Forest Hill to Fransfield Grove, Sydenham. I then joined the church lads Brigade, a sort of cadet corps, and became Colour Sergeant. At 16 I joined St Bart's gymnastic and boxing club, I was no good on the bars, but I took to the boxing. I won their 10 stone and over annual competitions for 3 years running the last before Lord Chelmsford at Park Hall, Sydenham. At 17 I joined the 2nd Vol Battalion West Kent Regiment. I served with them for a number of years. I took part in the attack on London, we marched in deep snow from Bromley to St James Park, then we received further orders, and then had to march to Clapham Common, what happened after that I can not remember.
I also took part in the Great Review on Laffin Plain Aldershot. When 80,000 men marched past the German Emperor (Kaiser Bill). Laffin Plain was all deep sand, we looked like Millers when we were done, rifles clogged right up. The artillery & cavalry smothered us as they went past, still it was a great sight. I was also guard of honour to Duchess of Albany . I overstated my age to join the West Kents, but I was big & I looked older than I was.
Now for Dartford, my job was a good one but I got a bit of a surprise, although Stidulph were not undertakers, they made coffins for a firm of Wine Merchants who did funerals. I found that the foreman polisher and the foreman decorator had to deliver the coffins and put the bodies in, I soon got used to it. We also had to go to the funeral which we did not mind as we got 10 shillings over wages. I worked at Dartford for over 3 years.
Then my father in law, Horace Russell who had a general shop in Upper Ground St, Blackfriars was taken with what proved to be his last illness. I left my job, and we warehoused our furniture and went to live with my wife's parents, so my wife could help her mother in the shop. I got a job at the Westminster Palace Hotel. It was a good job, but I had only been there a month, when I got the offer of a foreman polisher for Batchelors of Croydon and Beckenham. I took it and got my brother Alf the job in my place. He was there for some years. I travelled daily from Blackfriars , to Beckenham. When Mr Russell died and the shop was sold, I got a house at 140 Parish Lane, Penge. We got our furniture from Dartford and moved in. My mother in law went to live at Westerham where she had a shop.
While working for Batchelors, I canvassed other shops, We had a very large kitchen in Parish Lane. they brought the goods there and I worked on them from the time I got home from Batchelors until 1 or 2 in the morning. I gradually got a connection. After I had been at Batchelors about 3 years I heard that 1 Courtenay Rd which was a shop tobacconist and house was likely to be going. The owner wanted to sell the business .. We watched the place and found there was no business, I saw the man and told him, "You have no business you have nothing to sell. If you will arrange with the landlord, for me to take over, I'll pay you 20 pounds to get out." That was done and we moved in on the week before Xmas. We lived there until 1940 when it was destroyed by the Germans.
Soon after that I gave up Batchelors job and started on my own. I gradually built up a fairly good business, but it was hard work, because I had very little capital then just as I was going well came the 1914 war and things were bad.
The first job I had after the war broke out was at Eastbourne, a big job for Boots, when that was finished, I came back to do another big job at the Penge Empire. which was just being built, I wrote to my brother Bill and told him if he would give up his job at Bristol and look after things for me there was a job for life. He did so., but I was gone before he got there I joined the Army in 1915.
I enlisted for 3 years. Short service in the West Kent Regiment, I passed the medical A.1. was given the usual Queens shilling and owing to my age, placed on the reserve. I had always to wear a Karie armlet with the Royal initials on it while I was on reserve. I served with the Kent V.A.D. a branch of the Red Cross. It was all evening and night work. I wore a uniform while on duty. I was not called up until 1917. I reported to the West Kent Regt depot at Maidstone, but much to my surprise, I found myself posted to the Motor Transport A.S.C. (which was quite separate to the ordinary A.S.C.) as a learner driver. I suppose it was because of my age 41. I was not long passing out, although the tests were stiff, but it made a lot of difference to my pay. I did not do much driving. I drove in a number of convoys, but I was kept at what was really infantry work, Guards, Rifle Drill etc, they seem to have an idea I was an old soldier. I had a bit of a rough time, one place under canvas, on what had been a sewerage farm. no beds, only ground sheet on the wet earth. They were taking them wholesale to hospital. Kitchener came one Sunday morning and turned everyone into billets. Bottomley had shown the place up in John Bull, I got shifted all over the place, but was most of all on Salisbury Plain, where our main job was guarding German prisoners, who were making roads across the Plain. I never went abroad, which was no fault of mine, I was on a number of Drafts, but for some reason unknown I was taken off at the last minute.
I was fitted out with Eastern Kit several times, at Xmas week 1917 I was sent to Winchester for discharge. We were there three days and were practically starved, a bit of tinned salmon and a lump of bread for dinner, tea in a basin, not a cup or a mug. When I got before the M.O. I said I do not want to be discharged, I came in this of my own free will and I want to stay till the end. He shook hands with me and did not trouble to examine me, the next morning we all paraded and I was called out. The Officer (one of our temporary gents ) said "You are a funny b….." did you tell the M.O. you did not want discharge?" I said "Yes" He said "Well look at this lot every one praying for discharge, Well you go to the orderly room at 9.00 am, they will give you a railway warrant and tell you where to go" I did and they gave me all my papers and a railway warrant, I could have gone home and no one would have known I had to go to Lark Hill. It was lights out when I got there, but I found a hut and slept there, in the morning I reported to Orderly Room and was given a company. I carried on until 1918 when without any warning I was again sent to Winchester this time I let them get on with it.
The food was good, this time quite different to the last, I never drank while I was in the army, but I had a good one when I got to Waterloo. I never could make out why I was discharged because I never once reported sick, I can only think that because our cars were all light, cars for the East, they were getting rid of men over 40. After I got home I wrote to London, asking to be put in touch with my nearest branch of the federation of discharged soldiers, I was put in touch with a branch at Lower Sydenham, who met in a room over a coffee shop on Sunday mornings. I went a number of times & I found it was a sort of mutual admiration for the secretary and Chairman, I was going to stop going, when I met a man who had known me when I was doing a bit of organizing for the Liberals. He said can't you do something for the branch. I went the next Sunday, and started asking awkward questions. I found there had never been a balance sheet. there was no committee, and the Secretary had given himself a salary without asking anyone. The result was they resigned and I was elected Chairman, I got them into the lower Sydenham Social Club for their meetings, then I looked about and found a large shop & house empty, I took it, borrowed money off brewers & formed them into a club. It soon was over 200 strong., I was elected President and was so for 7 years. After a time I got a grant from the United Service Fund and bought the place. Then borrowed more money off the brewers and had the place reconstructed, then I began to get all kinds of offices forced on me. Here is a list, President West Lewisham British Legion (7 years), Chairman Beckenham British Legion, member of Metropolitan Council (3 years) Chairman South Eastern area, Vice Chairman Lewisham Employment Committee, Chairman of Rota Committees, member of Kings Roll Committee, member of Courts of Referees,
I stuck this lot for seven years, then packed up. I had enough. Then came the second world war. I was too old for the army, so I joined the civil defence as Air raid Warden, at first Voluntary, but afterwards I was engaged and given charge of a station. In a pretty lively spot a factory estate.
1940 was a bad year for me. 1st my son who was one of the defenders of Calais was reported missing. He meant a lot to me, we did not know where he was but in October we heard he was a prisoner of war. He was for 5 years, I kept on the Air Raid Wardens job doing 14 hours duty per night, until October. Then I went as a sort of bomb expert wherever a bomb dropped I had to examine the place and report the damage to the Lewisham Borough Council. That was a day time job. I had only been doing it for a few weeks when my own great disaster occurred. A disaster which altered several lives on Nov 18th 1940 I came home at 5.30 pm and said to my wife "We think it is going to be a bad night. Get down the shelter as soon as possible and I will come with you" I had never been down the shelter before, because if ever I was at home at night I slept on the floor in the passage, ( a good job I did not that night)
We put on some old clothes and went down the shelter at 8.00 pm, the Germans dropped a bomb (estimated at 13500 pounds) Right in the centre of my house. The house fell on the shelter and we were buried. they did not get us out until 8.30 am Saturday morning. We were safe, but there was not a brick standing except the front wall of shop which leant 5 ft out of upright and they had to pull it down quick.
I shall never forget my wife as long as I live when the bomb struck she never made a murmur, when they got us out she looked at the debris and said, well that’s our home gone, but I have still got you, I said to myself as long as I live whatever you say to me I will never say a cross word to you, and I can say on oath that until she died I never did.
On the Saturday we were both too shaken to travel, I left her with someone while I saw the authorities. At night, I said where are we going to sleep tonight she said lets go down the shelter. We did, on Sunday morning someone let us have a wash and then I took her down to my daughter Kath at Hemel Hempstead. I came back, found another place, an empty shop and got my salvage in to it. I was about Penge for several weeks seeing about various things, during which time I slept on the floor in my fathers house. I went down to Hemel for the week end and when I got back I found the Germans had blown my second place up. I then rented 2 garages and got my salvage in them and then went back to Hemel and stopped there. We lived with Kath until she took it into her head after 14 years to have another child. We had to get out, so my daughter May, took us in, and gave us a room, she already had someone living there, but she got rid of them for us to come. We were very happy with May, we now knew our son would come back to us some day. May did not mind me working in our room and how I did it. I don’t know, but I did. I only had a small table and a wood vice, but I made a 4 ft hall robe a 3 ft bureau and lots of other things, I could not have done it if I had not found a friend, Mr Austin, who did machine planeing for me and another who supplied me with oak. I had no pension until I was 72, we lived on our own money
Then came my second bad blow without any warning my daughter and son in law came in one Sunday morning and said she had bought a business and they were moving out at once, leaving us stranded. I was desperate we had nowhere to go, and what was worse no home for my son to come back too, then I did the only thing I could do. We were holding 200 pounds of my sons money in trust for him. I saw the solicitors and made an offer for the house, they accepted it, so I got a mortgage, paid 200 pound deposit and borrowed 550 pounds, the solicitors fees about 40 pounds. I paid out of my war damage compensation. I then got our broken up furniture from Penge, which cost me another 8 pounds and I set to work to repair it. It took me 8 months to do it so I now had a home for my son to come to. My son came home and soon after he married Joy **, they lived with us for a time, then moved to London near his business.
After they left my granddaughter Pat lived with us. then a young couple named Perkins, and after them we unfortunately got a pair of real wrong‘uns, who took me 6 months to evict.
During this time my daughter May decided to go to Australia. It was a sad day for me when she went. It is hard when one you love leaves you and you know you will never see them again. But she has been good she keeps in touch with me. Then came my worst blow, my wife developed heart trouble and could do nothing for 3 years. Then all of a sudden, without any warning she had an attack and died within 5 minutes. It was an awful shock to me and I have never got over it. I loved my wife more after 57 years than I did when I first knew her. Because I knew what a good woman she was. She was buried with her mother at Elmers End. After the funeral I was persuaded to get rid of my home and come to live with my son. I did so, but it did not work, and I am now an inmate of an old peoples home for the unwanted. This home is a good one, and the Matron is a good and kind woman, but life here is a miserable existence, bossed about by women and one of them a black. Always be kind to the blacks , they cant help their colour but they should never be given authority. they do not know how to use it.
I am 87 now and very fit, except I cannot walk well. I put my long life and fitness to the hard training as a youth. There was very little transport in those days and it was nothing to walk 7 or 8 miles, do a days work and then walk home again carrying a heavy kit. Also our food was pure, not adulterated as everything is now. As a lad I used to go every Saturday to Fleeters market and get a whole leg of beef, average weight 28-30 lbs at 2 1/2d a lb., my mother used it in all kinds of ways, and the bones made good soup.
There are a few Incidents in my life I would like to record.
I remember the 15 week frost, everything frozen, no outside work.
When I was a boy I belonged to the Juvenile Lodge of good Templars. At 12 I won the 4th prize for an essay on Temperance, open to all lodges in England. The prize was a book and a set of regalia.
I joined the Prince of Wales Lodge of the Buffaloes in 1919, a bit steep the entrance fee, but no further payment, and you are a Buff for life. I never took any interest in it because I regard all their ceremonies as childish, but they have two good things, one Poverty Corner for helping members and their ladies nights.
I have had four narrow escapes from death or serious injury . At Crayford the horse's bolted and I was thrown off the top of a Pantechnicon van and hit the road with my head and came up on my feet, no bad effects. Another time I was walking on a facia on a fairly high scaffold, it gave way and flung me on my back in the middle of the road. I got up, got someone to put the scaffold up again, went up and finished the job, no particular hurt. One Sunday in 1940 I was on duty, there had been a big air raid. The All Clear went at 4am. I sent the other men home and I carried on. I was standing looking at a factory when a German, that had been missed came over and dropped a bomb right through the building not 10 yards from me. The blast blew me a good way but again I was not hurt. Then came one that did hurt, on Nov 8th 1940, the Germans dropped a large bomb on my house, had that bomb dropped only a few yards nearer, my wife and I must have been killed. Fortunately we were in the air raid shelter which was below the surface, had it been on ground level, the blast would have killed us.
We had 3 daughters and a son, all have been a credit to us. Mother and I loved them all and were proud of them .
Now as to the times we lived in, you hear talk of the good old days, well they were not all good . They were good for those with an income of over 3 pounds a week, but there was an awful lot of poverty. I have seen queues stretching right down the street, waiting outside the Relieving Office to get tickets for bread, grocery, meat but no money. Most shops had cards in the windows saying 'Relief Tickets taken' , but in spite of this, life was more peaceful, and the people were much happier. Rents and living were cheap, you could get a seat for very little at a Music Hall and hear 1st Class Artists. We made our own amusements, now there are Pictures, Radio, Television etc, none of these can compare with the family gatherings and the musical evenings and a great thing you could walk the roads in safety, now you do so at the risk of your life.
There is not much more to write about except my sport which I will write about separate but when I go I hope it will be said, I did more good in this world than I did harm.

CRICKET

I first learned to play when I was 12. The Brockley Park, a man's club who allowed me to practise with them of an evening. Of course I did not play in a match. When we moved to Sydenham I was 14. I joined a youth C.C. and played for them until I went to Dartford. When I was 19 I had a trial at the Oval. I did all right, but I never took it further. I had not been long in Dartford before I received an invitation to play for Wilmington, a fine club, financed by Sir James Whitehead, once Lord Mayor of London. I played for them until I returned to London. I also played occasional games for Dartford Conservatives.
After we moved to Penge, one Whit Monday I was at Beckenham to watch the cricket. There was a team called Ilderton playing a local club. Ilderton were a man short someone told them about me. They asked me to play. I did, and made a big score. At the end of the match, the Captain asked me who I played for, I said "No one at present, I have just come from Dartford. "He said "Will you play for us," I said "Who are you?" He said "We are the staff of the Fine Art and General Insurance Co " I said "I am a bowler more than a bat" I agreed to play the next Saturday at Mitcham. They started with me, I never took a wicket and got a duck, I said "Its too bad to be true. I'll play for you next Saturday, I did and it was a very different tale. I played for them for some years, till they disbanded. every year I was top of their average's and took their prizes. The last year was the best. The President was Dodson. R.A. he said to me "You do not want to keep taking their small prizes. If you like to wait, I have a picture in the Manchester Art Exhibition and you can have it when it comes out. I did and after 2 months I got it. It was worth waiting for. (Pat Allum has picture. Amy.)
After they broke up I Played for the Penge & Beckenham Liberals. I was their Captain. I also played a good deal for Westerham . I played there until the 1914 war broke out. For the Liberals I once took six wickets in six balls, a record for Westerham against Sevenoaks, who had a number of County played . I did what I think was my best, Sevenoaks scored 210 for 4, I clean bowled the four. After the war I played for West Lewisham discharged soldiers up till I was 56. I had some happy times on the Cricket field

FOOTBALL

At 15 I joined a youths team called the Willberforce I played for them for years. When I was 19 the Vampires, who were one of the best amateur teams in the Country, wanted a left back. I was recommended and given a trial and I don't forget it. At half time I went into the dressing room, one of the principles said "Are you really a left back" I said "Well in the class of football I have been playing, The South London League, I could play anywhere, but my proper place is Left Half Back" He said "All right , you go there. We will put someone else at Back" When the game was over I dressed, packed my bag & left. not one person spoke to me or said goodnight. I walked away, and when I got to a seat, I cried and thought I have had my chance and failed. But I had not, two days after I got a letter saying you have been elected a member of the Vampires and can purchase your shirt and badge from George Lewin in Crooked Lane, City of London . I played for them until I went to Dartford.
I had not been in Dartford long before I was approved by an Official of the Dartford Professional Club, and was asked to sign on for them. I did, but I never played for them. Instead I played for the Dartford Amateurs, until I returned to London.
I never played again although asked to do so. I suppose I must have been fairly good, but I never liked Football as much as I liked Cricket.

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There are many other incidents in my life but I have only written essentials.
Now I have received another shock, my daughter in law, John's wife has died. I cannot realise it. It seems to me it cannot be true, a young woman of 40. I knew she had been ill but I never thought of anything fatal. Had I known what she was suffering from I would have been prepared. She was a good Wife and Mother. In spite of everything I was fond of her, it has hit me hard.

EPILOGUE
This is the last I shall write of the events of my life, but until my life’s end I shall regard with loathing the years 1963 and 1964, for they have brought me nothing but sorrow. My only son has died, he was all the world to me.
I have been accused of making him my idol. If I did, is that not more reason for me to say it is the worst blow of my life? He had been in hospital on and off since the death of his wife. On Whit Monday May 18th I received a letter from him saying he was better and would return to business in a fortnight. Two days after my son in law came to tell me he was dead, leaving two children no mother or father.
What a shock, but although it was a shock it was not quite a surprise, because for some time I had a bad feeling that something would happen to my son. Although no Bible puncher, I have always thought a lot about religion , because without religion of some kind there can be no law. No human being can say there is a God, and no one can prove there is not. It is the Clergy’s job to tell you all kinds of things but they know no more than anyone else. I have always believed there is something not given us to understand, so I have prayed night and day that my son should be restored to health, if only for the sake of his children. My prayers were not answered, what have I got for them all that I have worked and hoped for? Turned into a handful of dust.
My son and his wife were cremated at Elmers End, and their ashes are buried together in the Garden of Remembrance at Bromley Parish church.
I have 3 daughters, 3 Grand-daughters, 4 Grand-sons, 4 Great Grand-daughters and one Great Grand-son. I love them all and am proud of them.
In spite of my prayers not being answered, I still believe there is something not given to us to understand. There is so much in the world that we cannot account for. What gives life, a child, an animal, or bird is born with all its organs and faculties. A bird loses its feather, another grows in its place the same shape and colour. No human can understand it, so I still pray for my people.

This is my Swan Song, so I want to leave my thanks to all who have been good to me.

To my daughter Doris, my love and gratitude for all she has done for her brother and his children. My thanks to her husband Bill

To my daughter Kath and her husband Charlie, my love and thanks for all their kindness.

To my daughter May, who to my sorrow I will never see again, I give my undying love and thanks. and to my grandchildren who have all been kind to me; and now thanks to all other friends for their kindness.

Goodbye - But I cannot realise my son has gone.

Written in an old exercise book, all but the Epilogue is hand written.

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