Date of release: Thursday, February 26, 2015

London Girl Guide, 1914The First World War comes alive in an afternoon of talks given by the University of Greenwich. From the war letters of a Plumstead man to the girl guides who learned Morse Code, they take us from the local to global.

The public are invited to this free event at the Avery Hill campus in Eltham when, as well as talks and refreshments, they can see an exhibition about the men whose names are engraved on the borough's WW1 war memorials.

Local and family historian Lynne Dixon, from the university's Faculty of Education & Health, says: "We are still learning what life was like for people in this part of London during the Great War. Letters and memorabilia are a rich source of information about the past and when a whole collection of letters come our way, they can bring alive an aspect of history through the writing of ordinary people."

Lynne will be talking about Frank Keeffe of Plumstead, the ordnance worker who called his fiancé 'Mickey Blue Eyes' in letters he wrote from 1915 to the end of the war. He worked at Le Havre Base Depot, part of the Army Service Corp providing weapons, food and transport to Britain's forces. Lynne says: "Frank worried about his fiancé, for instance when German zeppelins dropped bombs on Woolwich or when she had to ride her bicycle over Blackheath during blackouts."

Dr Mary Clare Martin's talk describes how the Girl Guide movement spread across the world and how girls were told an understanding of signalling and the Morse Code would be useful in wartime. She says: "Guiding gave girls in many countries a public profile through rallies and entertainments. While some wartime activities, such as sewing for the forces, were 'coded feminine', they also played games such as 'flag raiding', or mock bombing, as well as participating in ambulance work and nursing."

There will be four talks:
* Carolyn Ayres of the Greenwich Heritage Centre on WW1in the borough generally, and "the human stories behind some of the names inscribed in stone and bronze on war memorials in Charlton, Eltham and Woolwich Arsenal".
* 'The letters of Frank Keeffe': talk by Lynne Dixon, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education and co-author (with Alison Hales) of Bringing History Alive through Local People and Places: A Guide for Primary Teachers (Routledge 2013).
* 'Arthur North': talk by William Robley, librarian and archivist, about the son of Colonel North, builder of the Mansion at Avery Hill. He was one of those named on a war memorial and commemorated in the exhibition.
* 'The First World War and the Girl Guides in Britain and overseas: Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies, 1908-1920': talk by Dr Mary Clare Martin, Principal Lecturer, Department of Education and Community Studies.

When: Wednesday 4 March from 4.30 to 6pm

Where: Room 140, Avery Hill Mansion Site, Bexley Road, Eltham,
London SE9 2PQ

RSVP: Please e-mail playandrecreation@gre.ac.uk to let the catering team know how many people are coming.

Story by Public Relations