Remembering a police hero 100 years after the Silvertown explosion

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 January 2017

Pc Edward Greenoff died trying to help the people of Silvertown after a fire started in the Brunner Mond explosives factory.

Pc Edward Greenoff died trying to help the people of Silvertown after a fire started in the Brunner Mond explosives factory.


In total 73 people lost their lives in the Silvertown explosion, including members of the emergency services.

One man who sacrificed his life to save others was Pc George Greenoff.

Before the explosion at 6.52pm, Pc Greenoff was keeping people back from the fire.

At the moment he was warning people about the likelihood of an explosion, the threat became a terrible reality.

He was knocked down by the blast and died as a result of his injuries.

According to the Stratford Gazette, which reported on the disaster and subsequent inquests, “several people owed their lives to his timely warning”.

At his funeral, “a large contingent” of men and officers from Pc Greenoff’s division followed his coffin with its band following behind.

“At the burial ground an impressive scene was witnessed, the procession forming a huge square around the grave,” the newspaper reported.

Tributes to the brave officer came from his colleagues and superiors, including a letter from King George V.

Written by his private secretary, the letter read: “I am commanded to ask you to convey to his widow and family His Majesty’s sincere sympathy, and assure you of the King’s admiration that the best traditions of the police have been so nobly maintained in this act of courage and devotion to duty.”

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