World War Two

Ronald Leedham: Greyness

Ronald Leedham was born in 1929 in India. His family moved back to England in 1931after Ronald contracted Polio. Ronald spent some years in Hospital as a young child after contracting Diptheria. When he was six he returned home to Catford for a short while to live with his father, eventually ending up living in ‘homes for crippled children’ run by the Shaftesbury Society, until he was sixteen.

Here Ronald describes a trip to London during the war.

  • Ronald Leedham
  • Ronald Leedham


Every so often we had to have new splints made, new callipers and boots and all that sort of thing, and we had to go up to The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, the RNOH, to have all of that supervision done and – oh dear oh dear. But we went up on the train and one of the housemasters went with us and, well that was an eye opener too because you – whether or not you’ve been on the railway through London, through South London, I don’t know, but it’s all at a very high level. It’s about the houses, so you were looking down on the houses, ‘cause it’s very flat. You were looking down on the houses all the way once you got into London from Sevenoaks.

And I can remember this greyness of everything, bearing in mind I’d been surrounded by greenery all the time and this greyness. And I can remember all the roofs with holes in from the shrapnel coming down from the ack-ack, where it was patched up in different coloured tiles. And then when you went into London there were all these sandbags everywhere and there was noise and people walking around and just doing whatever they wanted to do. The children and so on would be walking along the street, I’d never seen a child walk along the street before.

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