Have you noticed that the British are obsessed with marking anniversaries? You can be sure that if there is nothing newsworthy to report then the media will rake up some long forgotten event, the date of which just happens to coincide with this scarcity of hard news, to fill their columns with otherwise irrelevant information. Even birthdays are being marked with a greater emphasis. Time was, when after the age of twenty-one, birthdays passed by unnoticed except by favourite aunts who entered birth dates in a special little book often decorated with inspiring quotations from long dead authors. Today celebrating a birthday is not confined to those in the nursery. Septuagenarians and Octogenarians have now joined the ranks of the 30 years olds in marking the decades.

We, in Dulwich, seem to be going with this flow, after all we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of Dulwich Picture Gallery when almost certainly we will be back again in 2014 commemorating its opening. Nor is the Dulwich Society any less guilty. As the President recalls, the Society marked the occasion of its 40th anniversary because it fancied having a bit of a do!

Two significant anniversaries are approaching - HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 50th year of the Dulwich Society. Historically, a Royal Jubilee has been the occasion for villages and towns throughout the land to mark the event by providing some amenity which might benefit the community in the future. Seats and benches, statues and water fountains, recreations fields and clock towers, all bearing an inscription, will be found everywhere. In Dulwich we marked the Silver Jubilee by restoring the fountain in the Village, We do not seemed to have commemorated the Golden Jubilee. Should we mark the Diamond in 2012? I should be very interested to have members’ views on this topic.

There has been a suggestion that the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Dulwich Society in 2013 should be marked with a commemoration of those civilians who lived in the area and were killed as a result of enemy action in the Second World War. It is felt that the great loss of life in Dulwich, there were over 150 of the community killed in air raids, should be marked for the following reasons.
  1. Brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of those killed are still alive and would appreciate such a memorial to their loved ones.
  2. Apart from the mass grave and monument (opened in 1995) at Honor Oak cemetery for those civilians killed in the former Borough of Camberwell, which included Dulwich, no other memorial to them exists.
  3. This loss of civilian life should be recorded for future generations.

Discussions are at an early stage and there is much research to do. Preliminary investigation has shown that there were at least sixteen serious incidents in Dulwich between 1940-1945. Not all were in the area covered by the Dulwich Society; some were in adjoining roads but in close proximity to our perceived boundaries. The form such memorials would take has also yet to be determined, although an engraved plate on a short metal post, placed near the site of the incident appears the most likely.

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