Registered Charity

The FOBLC is recognised by HMRC as a charity, ref. XT38745, and is a member of the National Federation of Cemetery Friends

For all enquiries please contact our Chairman


AddThis Smart Layers

Welcome To Hell: The battle for Lone Pine


On the pathway heading away from the Ladywell Chapel just before the wall of remembrance (Heroes Corner) lies the family grave of Private Harold John Greenaway who was killed in action on Saturday 7th August during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign of 1915. Born in Catford in 1893, Harold worked as a storeman before enlisting in Victoria, Australia in August 1914 in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) serving in Egypt before falling in action during the iconic engagement with Turkish forces at the Battle for Lone Pine which occured on the Gallipoli peninsular between the 6th and 9th August. 

The battle for Lone Pine has gone down in Australian military history as one of the toughest and most brutal ever fought by Australians in any war. A contemporary account captures something of the sheer hellishness of the battle: 'Just after midnight , the Australians launched their attack. It was a slaughter- the Turks were prepared and waiting. Australian dead and wounded covered no-mans-land, while others completely blocked the tunnel openings. Another attack was organised, and just before 4am the men charged again, but the end result was never in doubt and a fresh pile of dead and wounded Australians soon lay scattered in front of the Turkish trenches.'
Welcome To Hell: The battle for Lone Pine
In four days of intense often hand to hand fighting with Australian and Turkish trenches only yards apart. Almost 2,800 Australians became casualties in this battle ( with Turkish losses close to double that number) Of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians for the Gallipoli campaign, seven were awarded for outstanding acts of bravery over those four days. It is perhaps fitting that each Anzac Day (25th April) is conducted in the Lone Pine Cemetery , which is the largest Australian cemetery on the peninsula

With the centenary of the battle of Lone Pine fast approaching perhaps visitors who light upon the Greenaway family headstone will stay their step and in a silent moment reflect on the sacrifice of one local family whose two sons now lie buried on foreign soil. Private Harold Greenaway lies buried in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery . His brother Charles Frederick (East Kent Regiment-The Buffs) whose name is also remembered on the headstone in Ladywell cemetery was killed the following year in 1916 at Beersheba also fighting against Turkish forces during the Sinai and Palestine campaign.

Harold John Greenaway headstone: courtesy of Billion Graves


Jeff Hart leads a walk on the 2014 FOBLC Open Day

Please join us for our 8th anniversary Open Day on Sunday 12th July, from 11am to 4:30pm.

There will be FREE guided walks of the Cemeteries visiting the graves of sportsmen, poets, war veterans and local figures as well as flora and bird life.

In addition there will be a photographic exhibition of monuments and wildlife in the Ladywell Chapel, refreshments and a plant stall.

We look forward to seeing you there!

2014 Open Day Expo in Ladywell Chapel

Getting there:
Ladywell Cemetery, Ladywell Road, SE13 7HY Ladywell station (short walk up hill), Bus P4 
Brockley Cemetery, Brockley Road, SE4 2QY Crofton Park station (short walk), Buses 122, 171, 172

Elizabeth Watkins, Waterloo veteran

With the 200th anniversary of Waterloo it is time to celebrate the incredible life of Elizabeth Watkins, the last survivor of the battle who died aged 94 and is buried in the Brockley & Ladywell cemeteries.

Elizabeth Watkins, Waterloo veteran and last survivor
Elizabeth Watkins, photo taken 1904, 89 after the Battle of Waterloo
Elizabeth was only 5 years old when she accompanied her mother to help care for the British wounded in the Waterloo campaign. She was one of many women and children on the battlefield, often related or married to soldiers, who acted as unpaid nurses, cooks, and stretcher-bearers.

You can read more about her on the Waterloo 200 website and in this account by John Luke for the FOBLC.

Elizabeth died in 1904, aged 95. Her tombstone describes her as a “Waterloo veteran”


The departure of the Lusitania on her last fateful voyage, New York, New York, May 1915. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images) Photo: Library of Congress

It was with a considerable frisson of excitement that I chanced, when looking at unrelated family headstones, upon the overgrown lettering at the foot of a family grave in Brockley cemetery (close to the former Catholic section) which identified two victims of the 1,198 (of 1,959 passengers and crew) who perished in one of the twentieth centuries greatest maritime disasters, the sinking of the Luxury Cunard Passenger Ship RMS Lusitania eastbound from New York to Liverpool off the coast of South East Ireland 11 miles from the Old Head of Kinsale on the afternoon of Friday 7 th May 1915. 

Launched in 1906 she was briefly the worlds largest and fastest passenger ship and was sunk by a torpedo(a controversial claim that a second torpedo was fired remains one of the many enduring conspiracy myths surrounding the sinking) when she crossed the path of the German submarine U-20 commanded by Kapitan-Leutnant Walther Schwieger,  at a point in the Great War when a U Boat exclusion zone was operational around Great Britain and Ireland meant that she was deemed to be a ' legitimate target'. 

The ship had sailed under Captain William Turner, in spite of advanced warnings in the American press from the German Embassy of the potentially deadly threat of U-Boat action and sank in the staggeringly fast time of just 18 minutes. Amongst the victims there were a 128 Americans including the tycoon Alfred Vanderbilt (whose body was never recovered). The international outrage that the loss of the Lusitania precipitated, resulted in a sequence of diplomatic and political events that would eventually lead to the USA entering the war on the allied side in 1917. At the hastily convened Inquest in Kinsale on May 10 th the Jury recorded a verdict of 'Wilful and Wholesale Murder'  for what was considered ' An appalling crime contrary to international law and the conventions of civilized nations'

Chastina Grant aged 43 was travelling aboard the Lusitania with her husband Montague, to visit his three sisters in Liverpool, whom they had not seen in years.  The Grants were British citizens living in Chicago, Illinois, United States. She and Montagu lived at 1412 Hyde Park Boulevard in Chicago. The Grants were in cabin D-39 for the last voyage of the Lusitania.

On the day of the Lusitania disaster, 7 May 1915, Chastina and Montague Grant were on the sun deck , when they saw James Brooks on the boat deck below and called out to him. Brooks climbed the companionway to join the Grants.  They made plans to play shuffleboard and were waiting for a fourth to join them when Brooks noticed a white streak approaching diagonally from the starboard side.  Brooks said flatly, “That’s a torpedo.”
A solid shock went through Lusitania and, in Brooks’ words, “instantly up through the decks went coal, debris of all kinds . . . in a cloud, up in the air and mushroomed up 150 feet above the Marconi wires.”  This was accompanied by “a volume of water thrown with violent force” that knocked the Grants and Brooks flat on the ground.
Chastina weakly called for her husband, “Oh Monty.”

Brooks got up and ran between the second and third funnels to find Montague and Chastina lying on the deck on the starboard side.  Then came “a slight second shock” that enveloped him in steam.  He felt that he was going to suffocate.  When the steam cleared, the Grants were gone.  Both Chastina and Montague Grant were lost in the Lusitania sinking. Chastina’s body was also recovered, identified as “age 36 years, 1st Class passenger,” interred in Common Grave, Queenstown (Cobh) Old Church cemetery.  Montague’s body was also recovered as of Thursday, 20 May 1915. Following a funeral service at St Paul's Deptford he was interred in Brockley cemetery.

The centenary of the sinking on May 7th will be marked by a number ofseparate events.

Appreciation extended to Mike Poirier for information on Montague and Chastina Grant - he is the co-author of 'Into the Danger zone : Sea crossings of the First World War'

Mike Guilfoyle

Spring Flowers Walk Saturday 18th April

Lesser Celandines in Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries
Lesser Celandines in Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries
Many thanks to the large crowd who joined us for the Spring Flowers walk around the cemeteries on Saturday 18 April at 2.00 pm, making it one of our most succesful events. Ably led by Tom Moulton and Pete Robinson this tour looked at some the flowers in bloom on the day and talk about their history and basic features. 

During the Open Day last July, the Friends held a nature walk around the cemeteries and discovered - to our surprise - that we had an amateur botanist in our midst. Pete Robinson  who lives in Brockley had been visiting the site almost every weekend to draw up a detailed list of all the flowers that he found.

By the end of 2014, Pete had compiled a comprehensive list of every plant that he had found growing in the Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries during the year, that you can access by clicking here. It includes 136 different flowers, 38 species of tree and 20 species of grass as well as small numbers of ferns, rushes and sedges. It is a remarkable piece of work and we are fortunate that Pete took such an interest. It also emphasises that the cemeteries' classification as a Site of Borough Importance Grade 1 for nature conservation is well-justified.

The flowers will have originated in a variety of ways. Some will be genuinely 'wild', ie. will have grown without any human assistance. A large part of the land on which the two cemeteries were founded in 1858 was known as the Great Meadow and there are several typical 'meadow species' on the list which suggests they may have grown continuously on the site over the intervening century and a half. Others will have grown from seeds blown by the wind or dropped by birds or even carried in the fur of small mammals. Others may be 'garden escapes', ie, have originated in nearby gardens. Some will have been planted over the years by the council. Others will have been planted on graves by families or friends of the deceased and then spread.

Whatever their origin, the flowers continue to grow, provide food for bees and other insects and contribute both to the biodiversity and visual delight of their environment.