Flashback: A Second World War love story, racial tension and a friend delivering a baby

60-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

60-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library

A look back at the biggest local stories from this day 20, 40 and 60 years ago.


Alone and friendless, an Italian woman living in Romford was trying to trace an English soldier who gave his food rations to her starving grandparents during the Second World War.

Genina Graziano was just 18 when she met the soldier in the ruined, smoke-filled district of Vomero, Naples.

Fleeing Germans had taken all the food they could lay their hands on.

The starving inhabitants were waiting for British Army supplies.

When they arrived, Lance Corporal Len Chinnery gave his rations to Genina’s grandparents.

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After that first day, he returned many times to see the family.

Two years later, before he sailed for England at the end of the war, he asked Genina to marry him but she said no and married another Englishman instead.

But after moving to Grenfell Avenue, Hornchurch, and getting a divorce, she wanted to once again find Mr Chinnery.


Asian immigrants banded together in a bid to keep racial tension out of Havering.

The Asian Welfare Society planned to keep things cool by peaceful co-operation with the rest of the community.

The organisation was welcomed by Havering Community Relations and local police.

It hoped to recruit all the borough’s 800 or so Asian families, uniting the immigrant community and setting up welfare services.

The society wanted to explore links and have joint activities with other community organisations such as tenants’ associations and youth clubs.

Chairman Balder Goyal said: “Our organisation is for Asians only but our activities will be open to everybody who wants to come and join in peacefully.

“We wish to integrate and live harmoniously.”


Deborah Paterson was just buddy marvellous to have as a pal.

She not only delivered her friend Tracey Wilson’s baby in an emergency, but she carried out urgent first aid on the newborn child.

With the help of a London Ambulance Service call taker, she helped to deliver the baby girl and then massaged her back to health after she was born blue.

Tracey’s daughter Grace, four, also helped by mopping her mum’s forehead with a flannel.

She returned to their home in Dominion Drive, Collier Row, that week with her new baby girl who weighed 7lbs 8oz.

Tracey said: “Both Deborah and Grace were brilliant – I would not have liked it to have done it alone.

“When it was all over, me and Deborah both cried.”