Lilian Greta Peyto EM

b. 17/02/1903 Shottermill, Surrey.  d. 01/10/1968 Greenwich, London.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 17/06/1925 Plumstead, London.

Lilian Greta was born on 17th February 1903 in Farnham, Surrey, the second youngest of seven children of William Edward and Lilian Mary Canning. Her father came from Hampshire, and her mother came from Kent. On the 1911 Census, her father’s occupation was listed as a gilman. Lilian was just 16 when she married Albert H Peyto in Gravesend, Kent in 1919. Liliam had two children with Albert, Marjory Rebecca (born in December 1919) and Roy (born 1923). Following her bravery at the factory in Plumstead, she was awarded the Edward Medal (one of only two women to date to be awarded it). She eventually decided to leave her job and become a housewife. By the time of the outbreak of World War II, Lilian was living with her husband and son Roy, at 71 Erith Road, Bexley, Kent. Lilian died on 1st October 1968 in Greenwich, aged 65. She was cremated at Eltham Crematorium and her ashes were interred.



Mrs. Lilian Peyto is employed at the Factory of Messrs. Holdsworth Bros., at White Hart Road, Plumstead, where flock is manufactured. The flock is delivered from rag grinding machines and falls to the floor in heaps and is then packed by women into large sacks. On the 17th June, 1925, a woman named Rose Wade was working at one of these machines, which was placed in a corner, and the woman was between the machine and the wall of the Factory. The flock which was being delivered from the machine suddenly caught fire and the fire spread immediately to the heap of flock which was being placed in the bag by Rose Wade. The woman’s clothes, which were covered with small particles of flock, caught fire and there was fire all round the machine. Rose Wade tried to run out from behind the machine but stumbled and fell. Mrs. Peyto, who was working on the other side of the machine, rushed to her assistance, caught hold of her and tried to drag her clear. A heavy sack of waste material which was suspended behind the machine and which had itself caught fire fell down on the girl and forced Mrs. Peyto to leave go. She again, however, went to Rose Wade’s assistance and this time was able to drag her out of the flames a good distance. All the other women working in the neighbourhood appear to have been too horror stricken to render help and left the dangerous area as quickly as possible. After Mrs. Peyto had dragged the burning woman away from the fire, a foreman came up and covered her with sacks, but Rose Wade died as a result of her injury.

Mrs. Peyto’s attempt at rescue was attended with grave risks, as Rose Wade was surrounded with flames and the clothing of Mrs. Peyto herself might easily have caught fire. Her second and successful attempt to get the woman clear after the burning bag of material had fallen on her showed special courage.