University of Oxford
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Experiences of the Taylor and Greenaway Family

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:54 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

I wasn't born until 5 years after the war. What I have brought today I have brought from my mother, father and grandmother. These are my conversations with them.

My father

His name was Desmond Taylor he was born in 1912 when he was about 17 or 18 he joined the army and that was in 1930 he served in India and China and then he joined the post office in 1937as a postman in Worthing. He was called up to the army on September the 1st 1939 and he was sent to Guilford barracks and then over to France. He was in France until June 1940 when the Germans broke through into France. He was unable to reach Dunkirk but managed to reach Saint Nazaire and was brought safely home to England. He spent a few weeks in Blackpool where he found great kindness from the local people. Then he went to North Africa and was later in the siege of Tobruk.

When the Germans were expelled from North Africa he then served in Italy he went right through the war without injury. After the war he returned to the post office he married Vera Greenaway in 1948. He was always ready to talk about his war experiences.

My mother Vera Greenaway
Born 1919. She lived with her mother in Cottenham Road, Worthing and she worked in Bentalls in South Street from 1934 to 1948. She experienced air raids on Worthing tip and run attacks and recalls machine gunning in South Street during air raids staff in Bentalls evacuated to the furnishing department which was a newer part to the building and safer. In there they would put on records and have dancing. She wanted to serve in the air force but sadly failed her medical this was a great disappointment, but she served as a fire watcher on the roofs in South Street. During the invasion threat in 1940 she said "it was scary but exciting"."She would readily talk about the war especially life at Bentalls. She had a very strong sense of humour. She went throughout the war without injury.

My grandmother Mrs Flora Greenaway#

And she was born in 1890 she lived with her daughter Vera in Cottenham Road Worthing at the outbreak of war. She took in two young boys evacuated from London's Old Kent Road. They stayed for about 9 months and visited her later in 1975. On September the 18th 1940 in a daylight (12 noon.) air raid she escaped death when a bomb fell five houses away. At Bentalls the van driver, on hearing of the locality of the raid took Vera home. She found her mother unharmed and had half the road in cooking dinner for them. A row of flats was demolished in the raid. Mrs Greenaway was out in another day light raid during February 1943. To protect herself from the blast she threw herself down on the pavement by the Lyndhurst Road shops. A bomb fell near Ladydell bridge in Angola Road then the raider flew across the town from east to west bombing and machine gunning. St Andrews School in Clifton Road and a nearby Catholic primary school playground were attacked. A teacher was injured and a 13 year old boy led younger children to the shelter. He was described as a"HERO OF THE HOUR". Apart from a narrow escape Mrs Greenaway went through the war unscathed. She would readily talk about the war she said"in 1940 we were in the frontline and had visions of being evacuated had an invasion taken place" CRASH SPECIALS were kept at West Worthing railway carriage shared and if needed they would have attempted to run a continuous service of evacuation trains.

Anecdotes from other family members

Derek Taylor Born 1921

MY father's youngest brother.

He was called up to the army and when in Italy he was buried alive but rescued. As a result he would never talk abut the war, never read war books, never watch war programmes on TV.

Reg Taylor

Born 1907

He was my father's oldest brother. He was a professional soldier and talked about nothing but army stories and the war. In 1979 his wife said 'He fights the battle of Dunkirk everyday.'

Cyril Dunt Born 1890

He was my grandmother's brother in law. He worked as chief clerk on the GWR at Bristol. Too old to serve in WW2. He used to boast that Bristol had had much bigger air raids than Worthing. This used to infuriate my mother. She would say, 'What we had was quite bad enough.'


Item list and details


Person the story/items relate to

Desmond Taylor and Vera Greenaway (and family)

Person who shared the story/items

Graham Desmond Taylor

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor


Type of submission

Shared at Lancing Prep Worthing, West Sussex on 16 September 2023.

Record ID

93758 | LAN005