Bombs dropped in the ward of: Dalston

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Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Dalston:

High Explosive Bomb

Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:

Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:

No bombs were registered in this area

Memories in Dalston

Read people's stories relating to this area:

Contributed originally by BBC LONDON CSV ACTION DESK (BBC WW2 People's War)

"I'm a cockney born in Kingsbury Road near the Ball's Pond Road in the East End in 1937, so I was like 4, 5 and 6 when all this happened. I went to a Catholic School and during the Blitz when the air-raid sirens went, we'd get under the table and our teacher would say 'now you've got to pray' so we all prayed until the all-clear went.

One morning at 3, my mum's sister cam in and said 'there's a big bomb dropped near the old lady's house - that's what we called my gran - but she said she's all right. We rushed down the road and saw that a bomb had dropped on a school. I'll never forget, there wasn't a window left in none of the houses around. We went into a schoolhouse, the door was wide open, and there was blind man upstairs which they got our early; the whole ceiling had come down on him. We went into the kitchen and there was only about three bits of plaster left. The plaster round the rose on the ceiling was about the only bit left. I asked the blind man if he was okay and he said 'yeah' so I made him a cup of tea. We was lucky because if that bomb had dropped at three o'clock in the afternoon it would have killed all the kids.

I'll never forget this, the front door swung open and a fireman stood there. He said 'Everyone all right?' and one of the women said, well, I can't say what she said, but to the effect of 'that xxxxx Hitler can't kill me!'

We lived off the Ridley Road at the time and during one of the air raids one night, everyone went down the shelters and my dad said to me "Want to watch the airplanes?' My mum said 'That's not a good idea', anyway, he put me on his shoulders and we stood in the doorway and watched the dog-fights overhead. And I tell you, when them German planes got caught in the headlights, they had a hell of a job to get out. Anyway, the morning after these raids, all us kids'd go out collecting shrapnel from the shells, I had a great big box of the stuff.

Was I scared? Only when I was in bed at night and the air-raid warning went. When you're asleep and you suddenly woke, you didn’t' know what was happening so it was pretty frightening. At that age, you didn't know what air raids were all about. Some of the time I slept in the cupboard under the stairs and it felt a bit safer there.

One day, I went round to the corner to my aunt's house and she was sitting by the window when there was an air-raid warning. Inside the window where she was sitting was a table with a statue on it. They told her to come in away from the window. I'll never forget this, there was a bomb blast, the window come in and the statue toppled off the table and onto the floor. If she hadn't have moved, she'd have been covered with flying glass.

My dad didn't go in the army, because he was wanted on the railways. He took me down the dog racing one day at Hackney Wick. This flying bomb - a doodle-bug it was - suddenly appeared over us. You could see every detail of it. We all ran. It went right across the track and dropped in a field somewhere.

One day a landmine dropped near us in Kingsbury Road and didn't go off. A fellow came down from the Bomb Disposal unit, to try to disconnect it and he got killed. Opposite us there was a block of flats and they named it after him - Ketteridge Court.

I was evacuated for a little time, to Kettering, but I don't remember much about it, only that I didn't like it. I'd have to ask my mum about it. She's 100 but still remembers everything.

Me and my family are Pearly Kings and Queens and we do a lot of charity work, entertaining with music and the old cockney songs and that (Phone 020 8556 5971). We are now the biggest 'Pearly' family, made up mostly of the Hitchins (my mum's family name) in Hoxton, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Clapton, Shoredich, Hommerton, Dalston, City of London, Westminster, Victoria, Islington and Stoke Newington. "

Copyright BBC WW2 People's War

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Contributed originally by dottie5 (BBC WW2 People's War)


Soon after this, Mum came to Northampton and finding me impervious to all her warnings of dangers to come if I returned to London, she took me home. When I returned home the war had started but, as yet, there had been no bombing, only preparatory air raid warnings to help people to get accustomed to the procedure of taking cover as soon as sirens were heard. Similarly, to know that it was safe to come out when the All Clear Siren was sounded. Nevertheless the predictions were that air raids could be expected soon.


There was an interval when there was no schooling during which an Anderson shelter arrived and was set up in the garden.

It was topped with a quantity of earth, after which sandbags were placed over the earth and on either side of the entrance. Wooden steps led down into the shelter.

My Dad was already growing potatoes, runner beans, cabbages and lettuces in the garden, but as he was running out of space he decided to grow some rhubarb on top of the shelter. Soon we had sticks of rhubarb growing in the earth between the sandbags. Mum and Dad began putting a few items into the "dug-out" as it was called. We started sleeping in it before the raids began, to get the feel of it.

The first night was horrendous. As I walked down the steps into what was going to be my sleeping quarters for the next few years, the smell of dank earth hit my nostrils. A worm appeared out of the "wall". There was no light, no warmth and no facilities. I was given blankets and a deck chair to sleep in, but sleep was impossible. Things improved when narrow wooden bunks were installed. Oil lamps gave us some light and a portable wireless became invaluable, not only for entertainment but also to drown the noise of falling bombs, when they came.


In the Summer of 1940 the bombing began. It went on, day and night, for weeks on end.

We stayed in our comfortable kitchen for as long as we could in the evenings, but as soon as the sirens sounded we had to get down into the dug-out. It was my job to whip up the dried milk and water for the tea we would take with us in a thermos flask.

People looked out for each other. After a night's bombardment the talk in the streets would be about the previous night's bombing. Through the grapevine people learned which places had been hit the night before. If they knew someone living in one of these places they would go there to see how things were and to do what they could to help.

By this time many evacuees like me had returned to London and schools had re-opened. One of the jobs I had to do after school was to get the cat's meat. That meant an inevitable queue before I could get to the counter. Even cat's meat was in short supply during the war. Quite often I came away empty-handed and our cat had to take pot-luck like us human beings. It was possible to buy horse-flesh fit for human consumption, or so it was said.

I was an avid reader and it was my habit to go to the public library off Forest Road after getting the cat's meat. The Chief Librarian knew me well and used to save books for me. He'd even broken the rules and allowed me to use the adult section of the library, providing he could endorse my choice of reading.

One day I came home from school and found our street cordoned off. This was common practice if there had been an 'Incident". Naturally, I was shocked. I had to prove that I lived in the street before I was allowed to enter.

What had happened was that a bomb had dropped on the library, which was at the end of the street. My lovely librarian had been killed as also had the young Curate from nearby Holy Trinity Church who happened to be walking by at the time. Only the day before I'd made my usual trip to the library. As I entered the librarian came towards me, carrying a book. "Saved this for you Crofts" he said, handing me the book. It was "The Wizard Of Oz".

When I got home I found the kitchen in a complete mess. Mum always had a coal fire stoked up in the kitchen, even if we were all out. It kept the place warm until either she came back from shopping or Dad popped in for his mid-day meal. A strong metal fire screen was always left in front of the fire and any loose coals could drop into a pan underneath.

Mum hadn't got back from shopping when the bomb landed on the library but luckily Dad was at home. The explosion blew the whole fireplace out and into the room, leaving a gaping hole. If Dad hadn't acted quickly by smothering the smouldering mess with sandbags the whole house would have gone up in flames.

That night the bombing continued fiercely. Everyone had been issued with ear plugs but they were uncomfortable and didn't drown out the noise of explosions anyway. It wasn't only noise from bombs that we had to contend with. The boom of our anti-aircraft guns were almost as noisy as the bombs.

The next morning my boyfriend called Stanley, came round to see me. I thought he'd heard about yesterday's bomb on the library and had come to see if I was alright. That was partly the purpose of his visit but he had something far worse on his mind. His father had been killed. He'd done what so many people did when hearing the whistle, (more like a scream really, of a falling bomb. He'd dived under the kitchen table. The explosion had lifted the table high into the air and it had then crashed down on him, killing him outright. Stanley and his mother were in their dug out and were unscathed.


One thing I learned from the blitz was that dreadful experiences, if repeated continually over time, can become an accepted part of everyday life. Accepted, but not acceptable.

I went to school every day and Mum and Dad followed their usual routine. Somewhere in my eleventh year I took my 11+ examination and got a place at a “Central” school which had a status between elementary school and grammer school. It could have been worse.

Dad was a Metropolitan Water Board Inspector during the day. In his spare time he was a member of the Home Guard and an air Raid warden. Bill had got work in a Bank but unfortunately all its employees were moved to Stoke-on-Trent soon after he started work. This meant that it was just Mum and I in the dug-out at night. Off duty though, Dad could be with us all night. On these nights we each wore a "tin" hat one from each of his occupations. That was only when the bombing was heavy. If there was a lull in the bombing we slept as best we could. Even if the bombing was heavy we managed to get a laugh out of it as three bent heads wearing tin hats collided in the small space of the dug-out with a mighty clonk.

Dad's duties as an A.R.P. Warden covered our local streets so if there was a lull in activities he could pop in to see us during the night. The Blackout was in force and I sometimes heard his voice shouting: "Put that light Out" to someone who hadn't masked their windows sufficiently. The streets at night were very dark. Bus lights were dimmed and of course there were no lights from shops. Places like Police Stations and hospitals

had a dim blue light but you couldn't go out into the street without a torch. With typical youthful inability to regard Mum's warnings not to run, I did just that, slap into a lamp post. But only once.

Looking back, I think that our parents, lives must have been hell. Especially mothers. Not only did they have to spend much of their time patiently queuing for food for their families, they then had to go home to their kitchens to use all their ingenuity and skill to eke out the small and sometimes strange foods that were all that were available. Dried egg spam, whalemeat and dried potatoes being some of them. Even bread was in short supply and
people were encouraged to eat more potatoes and less bread. There was even a war-time loaf, not as tasty as all-white bread but, we were told, more nutritious. Quite likely, we wouldn't complain about that today.

Added to all that my Mum had to put up with me, a stroppy juvenile adolescent, needing to prove myself, dependent and yet wanting my independence, and most of all, wanting to get some enjoyment out of life.

I went to dances in the Blackout. I could get a bus there but had to walk home.


Came the night when I was walking home with Stanley, and the sirens went. Soon an air raid was in progress. Now, it seems incredible but at that time it was normal, we passed a small qreen where young couples were sitting chatting and cuddling. I don't know whether they stayed in the green or went home because at that moment a V2 slunk into hearing and then its engine cut out. Stanley flung me to the ground and threw his body on top of me for protection. Some people have sniggered when I've told them about that incident, but they were wrong. I remember him as a very gallant young man. Fortunately for us it came down to earth some distance away. Mum was waiting for me at the "street door when I got home. She was distraught. I didn't have an inkling of how she must have felt, waiting for me that night. She must have gone through hell. I got my come -uppance a few nights later.

Dad was on ARP duty and Mum and I were in the dug-out. Taking the opportunity of a lull in the bombing, (en emy plan es came over in waves), I enticed Mum into letting me go upstairs to my bedroom, to the comfort of a real bed. I was luxuriating in the pleasure of being able to stretch my limbs in a warm, comfortable bed when a V2 droned into hearing and from the sound of it, it was right over our house. Then the engine cut out. This time, alone, I had my first taste of sheer terror. No use diving under the bedclothes and certainly not the bed after what happened to Stanley's father. Stupidly, I found myself sitting bolt upright in bed, every muscle in my body taut, willing with all my might that it would come to earth somewhere el se. Obviously, it did. After the explosion I heard Mum calling from the garden to get back down to her. When I got downstairs she was crying. I promised to stay in the dug out -in future.

Dad came in looking grim. He said he'd taken an elderly neighbour to a place of safety. - Her house had been blasted. He'd carried her on his back which was some feat considering that he was a slightly-built man and not much over 5 ft. tall. Another night Dad came into the dug-out very upset, having just come from a policeman writhing in agony in the middle of the road with a lump of shrapnel in his stomach.


Pubs, cinemas, theatres and restaurants stayed Open during the war. There was even a chain of -"British Restaurants", set up by the Government to provide nutritious, cheap meals to the populace. I desperately wanted to see the film of "Jane Eyre". I'd read the book and so had Stanley. We went to the Odeon in Kingsland High street but we hadn't been in there very long before an Air Raid Warning was flashed up on the screen. Some of the audience got up and left but a larger number stayed, including Stanley and I. People were so used to air raids that they tended to weigh up their chances and stay put, in the hope that the situation wouldn't hot up.

We could hear the sound of bombs, seemingly, not too' close, but then we heard the boom-boom of our anti-aircraft guns and people started to 1eave. So did we. Outside massive searchlights swept the skies for the sight of enemy aircraft. Stanley said we should run for it and I realised why when bits of shrapnel started ‘pinging, against’ the walls and all around us. This was my first experience of shrapnel. I had no idea it could be so dangerous. Stanley said that shrapnel didn't only get scattered from exploding bombs but could fly off our guns too, and it terrified me. Fortunately, neither of us lived far from the cinema so it didn't take long to get home. Poor Mum wasn’t the only one to sigh with relief when I got there.

The bombing was very heavy that night. There wasn't much chance of sleep so Mum and I sat on our bunks with our tin hats on. Mum also held a thick towel round her head to deafen the sound of bombs exploding.


It was well into the night when we heard Dad running up the garden, shouting to us to get out and not stop for anything. An unexploded land mine had landed at the back of our garden. The night was nearly over when Mum and I climbed out of the dug-out and started the walk to the Rest Centre. As we turned in to Dalston Lane we saw the sky, glowing red from all the fires caused by the night's bombing raid. There were no more bombs that night. The raiders had shot their bolt and gone home. Dad was with us as we walked. Two policemen were walking behind us and I heard one say to the other: "they're alright". I suppose we did look a composed little trio. I had a blanket round my shoulders that Mum had grabbed as we left the dug-out and I was looking forward to a cosy reception at the Rest Centre. It was a school that had been converted into a reception area for people like us who'd been bombed out of their homes. True, we hadn't actually been bombed out but we wouldn't be able to return home until the land mine had been removed.

That Rest Centre will stay in my mind as one of the worst experiences of my life. We entered into a school hall packed with people, either sitting or lying on the uncarpeted floor. I don't remember having any refreshments offered to us. There was nothing to do but try to squeeze into any space we could find and then try to sleep. Next day we had it confirmed that nobody would be allowed into Woodland Street until the land mine had been removed. Fortunately, an aunt living nearby at 18 Burder Road, a street next to our former home: Canterbury Road Offered to put us up until we could go back to our own home. So we were temporarily back in Islington again.

My last recollection of this whole period is of rushing into my Aunt Em's garden during an air raid. The siren had only just sounded when we heard a loud thud from the garden. Foolhardy as ever I reached the garden first, in time to grab a sandbag and throw it on to what was an incendiary bomb. The next day, out of curiosity, someone picked up its shell. Inscribed on it was the number 18. "This one was meant for us" he said. Everyone laughed. If they could get a laugh out of a situation during the war, they did.

Copyright BBC WW2 People's War

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Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Dalston:

High Explosive Bomb

Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:

Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:

No bombs were registered in this area

Images in Dalston

See historic images relating to this area:

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