Joan Sharp

Photo:Joan Sharp attending an open day at the University of Greenwich in 2010.

Joan Sharp attending an open day at the University of Greenwich in 2010.

Recollections of life as a teenage girl in wartime London.

Remaining at home

A young teenage girl during the war, Joan lived in Deptford at the outbreak of war and remained in London for the duration. Although she had the option of being evacuated, Joan decided to remain with her family. 

As her school had been evacuated, Joan did not attend school during the early parts of the war. When the school eventually re-opened, Joan began to attend classes regularly for half a day. If teachers were absent, the older children had the responsibility of teaching the younger pupils. Joan does not believe that the education she received during the war was adequate.

Air raids

Although Joan’s family home was not damaged during the Blitz, she can remember a neighbour’s house being bombed. The area suffered heavy bombardements during the Blitz. Joan clearly remember the distinct smell of burnt sugar that stayed in the air for days after a sugar factory was bombed across the river.

During air raids, Joan used a public shelter in the reinforced cellar of a former pub. Unfortunately she caught tuberculosis from a girl who she shared a bunk bed with. Joan’s illness was only discovered after she was admitted to hospital with appendicitis.     

Working for the Sea Cadets

Employed as a typist and telephone operator in the office of the Sea Cadets, she wore a navy blue uniform and was often mistaken for a WREN. For this reason she was often assumed to be older than she was and often attended dances.

Joan recalls the cruelty of war. A colleague whose husband had been injured in service and was due to return home. It was a Saturday and Joan’s colleague had to work. She was allowed to leave early and went to Woolworths in New Cross Road and was killed when a V2 rocket landed on the store. She died the same day her husband was due to arrive home.

Voluntary work

Not only did Joan work in an office during the war but she also helped in the family allotment, volunteered at Lewisham Hospital and also assisted in arranging pantomimes. Joan also assisted in knitting dolls for the annual Children's Christmas party, organised by the Mayor of Deptford.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 18/04/2012.
Comments about this page

i was only a baby born in 1942 i am only learning about the war these past few years .i have learned about new cross woolworths being bombed .

By brenda beavis
On 11/06/2012