Bombs dropped in the ward of: Hackney Central
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Hackney Central:
- High Explosive Bomb
- Parachute Mine
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 Hackney Central
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by Researcher 249331 (BBC WW2 People's War)
In September 1940 the bombing raids really started. The warning would start wailing very loudly, the nearest siren being on top of Stoke Newington Police station, which was almost opposite where we lived. The bombers started coming over every night, the first few nights we sat on the stairs with blankets wrapped around us, shivering from cold - or was it fear? All of us were very quiet listening to the pulsating sound of the bombers overhead.
After a few nights of discomfort we started going into the basement of our next door neighbour. We couldn't use our cellar, as it was full of bundles of firewood that were in stock to be sold in the winter - they were sold for tuppence a bundle, in my father's greengrocery shop. The Vogue cinema was at the other end of of the block of buildings where our shop was situated. It was the sort of cinema that when the film was over you waded through monkey nut shells, on your way out to the exit.
The Blitz comes close to home
One night a bomb dropped onto a bus outside the Vogue. It made a large crater, and fractured a water main. After a while, water seeped into the cellar we were in. As we were hearing a lot of noise from the anti-aircraft guns, and from the dropping bombs, it was decided to go over the road to a proper shelter under the Coronation Buildings, where there was a very large air raid shelter.
We came out and saw the sky criss-crossed with searchlights. Whilst we were running across the road, a bomb landed with an enormous bang on the West Hackney Church. The blast blew out the windows of The Star Furnishing Company windows. The huge glass windows just disintegrated, and fell to the ground like a beautiful waterfall, with all the noise and dust. We rushed into the shelter, but amazingly we were all untouched.
During the day I used to watch the occasional dogfight overhead, and like most boys of my age (I was 11) at the time, my hobby was to go around looking for bits of shrapnel. One morning, coming home from the shelter over the road, I found an incendiary bomb on the pavement outside our shop. I stupidly picked it up, and was examining it when a policeman appeared and said 'I'll have that' - and ran across the road to the station with it.
Coronation Avenue buildings consists of a terrace of about 15 shops with five storeys of flats above. The shelter was beneath three of the shops.The back exit was in the yard between Coronation Avenue and another block of buildings, called Imperial Avenue. We went over the road to the shelter whenever there was a raid, and when the 'all clear' sounded in the morning, we would go back over the road, half asleep and very cold, and try to go back to sleep in a very cold bed.
The shelter consisted of three rooms. The front entrance was in the first room, the rear entrance was in the third room, which had bunk beds along one wall.The rooms were jam packed with people, sitting on narrow slatted benches. I would sit on a bench and fall asleep, and wake every now and then, and would find myself snuggled up to my mother and sister. My father had the use of one of the bunk beds, because the men were given priority, as they had to go to work.
On 13 October 1940, the shelter received a direct hit. We had settled down as usual, when there was a dull thud, a sound of falling masonry, and total darkness.
Somebody lit a torch - the entrance to the next room was completely full of rubble, as if it had been stacked by hand. Very little rubble had come into our room. Suddenly i felt my feet getting very cold, and I realised that water was covering my shoes. We were at the end of the room farthest from the exit. I noticed my father trying to wake the man in the bunk above him, but without success - a reinforcing steel beam in the ceiling had fallen down and was lying on him.
The water was rising, and I started to make my way to the far end, where the emergency exit was situated. Everybody seemed very calm - with no shouting or screaming. By the time I got to the far end, the water was almost up to my waist, and there was a small crowd clamberinig up a steel ladder in a very orderly manner. Being a little more athletic than some of them, and very scared, I clambered up the back of the ladder to the top, swung over, and came out into the open.
It was very cold and dark, and I was shivering. The air was thick with brick dust, which got into my mouth, the water was quelching in my shoes. I still dream of, and recall, the smell of that night, and the water creeping up my body. My parents and my sister came out, and we couldn't believe the sight of the collapsed building. My brother had been out with a friend - so was not hurt, and we were all OK.
My mother, sister and I went over to number 6, and my father and brother stayed to see if they could help in any way. Some bricks had smashed the shutters in front of the shop, and had to be replaced with panel shutters, which had to be removed morning and evening. The windows were blown out, and were replaced temporarily with a type of plastic coated gauze.
The next morning, we were told that only one person had survived in the other two rooms, and about 170 people had been killed. (In recent years I have been to Abney Park cemetery, where there is a memorial stone, with names of a lot of the victims who must have died in our shelter.)
There was a huge gap in our building, on about the third floor. There was part of a floor sticking out, with a bed on it. Someone said the person in it was OK, but this story might just have been hearsay.
A lot of the women used to bring photographs of their families to show each other during the long periods of waiting in the shelter. That evening my mother had brought a handbag full of photos to show some women, and fortunately she had not gone into the other room to show them. The photos were never recovered. My sister said she was alright, until she went up into our parents room the next morning, and saw soldiers arriving outside, with shovels - then she started crying (she was 15 years old).
A few days later, I saw men wearing gauze masks bringing out bodies, and placing them in furniture vans. Having seen bodies since, this is the only thing that comes back in my dreams - the furniture vans and the water.
Having nowhere to go for shelter, my parents decided that we would go to the Tube station to sleep. We would close the shop early, and with bundles of blankets go to Oxford Circus station, via Liverpool Street, and sleep for the night on the platform. When the trains started to run the next morning, we would get up feeling very dry and grubby having slept fully clothed all night. We had to wait patiently until the platform cleared, and then back we went to Liverpool Street, and the 649 trolley bus home.
One night we heard a lot of noise above, and the next morning I went up to have a look, and saw a lot of Oxford Street burning. On the way home by trolley bus - amazingly they were still running - we went through Shoreditch, and saw fires still burning. But the motto everwhere was business as usual.
Looking for shrapnel when I got home, I saw an Anderson shelter in Glading Terrace that had received a direct hit - it was just a twisted lump of metal. The bombing was very heavy and some areas were roped off because of unexploded bombs. But it was a pleasant surprise when the King and Queen visited Stoke Newington - that was when I first had my photo taken with the Queen.
Photo with Queen Elizabeth
A water main near us had been had been hit, and my sister and I were trying to find a bowser lorry to get some water, when somebody told me that the King and Queen were in Dynevor Road, nearby. So I ran there, and managed to sqeeze through to the front of the crowd. The Queen made some comment about me to the woman behind me. Some time later my sister saw the photograph taken at the time, and contacted the newspaper and got some copies.
Eventually my parents arranged for my sister and me to be evacuated, and my brother (who was 19 years old) was posted to North Africa. He went from Alemein right through to Italy, and came home and went to the continent - finishing his war in Germany.
Contributed originally by Angela & Dianna (BBC WW2 People's War)
This story was written by Angela's mother, Dobbie Dobinson:
It was 1936. I was just 16 and looking for a bit of excitement, so I was quite interested when I was invited to a Blackshirt meeting. I was told it could get a bit unruly, but the boys were really dishy.
The meeting was in south east London and was bursting at the seams with young people, male, female, black, white - they were all there. I couldn't believe that politics were uppermost in their minds, and I'm sure it wasn't in mine.
I was completely bowled over by the appearance of the members - girls and boys alike. The immaculate black silk shirt and tie. The slim trousers tucked into long black shiny boots. Topping it all was the wide leather belt with the large shiny buckle with the Blackshirt emblem. I learned later that it wasn't just decorative, but had a slightly more sinister use. Under the buckle were several sharp spikes, which could be released when the belt was removed and became rigidly upright. It formed an extremely effective weapon when whirled around among would-be attackers.
I decided to become a member, with all arrangements for my uniform to be delivered ASAP. My parents, needless to say, were very disapproving, and that's putting it mildly, but they had always encouraged us to learn by our own mistakes - and they both reckoned this was a big one!
So far, I had only attended local meetings, but once I had my uniform I was keen to go further afield and hear the better speakers. Sir Oswald Mosley, our leader, was due to speak in the East End of London, always reckoned to be a very lively venue. The great man arrived to address what was a really huge audience. There were Brownshirts, Greenshirts, Communists and a very high proportion of the Jewish community.
To me he looked rather like a doll that had been very carefully dressed. Nothing was out of place. His hair was perfect for the then popular Brylcreem and his little moustache looked as though it had been crayoned on his upper lip. His boots shone like glass and when he gave the salute and clicked his heels I expected them to crack!
He began his speech, but it didn't last long. There was a lot of catcalling and he seemed to have difficulty in holding the interest of the crowd or controlling it. But his deputy arrived to save the day, introduced as William Joyce.
I recognised him at once, although it was quite some time since I'd seen him. His sister Joan had been in my class at Dulwich Hamlet School and I eventually met all his family and it was a very lovely one. Joan had a twin called James, then came Quentin, then Frank and last came William. They were all very happy and confident people and I much enjoyed their company.
As soon as William started speaking the atmosphere changed completely, and I was to learn from future meetings that he had the ability to manipulate a crowd like no-one I had ever heard before.
From then on I never missed one of his meetings, but of course they could be pretty rowdy and this was when I saw the belts put to good use. The opposition was not to be outdone, however, and whirled long pieces of thick string with a raw potato attached to the end with several razor blades stuck in at different angles. Both weapons were not to be argued with for long, but if you were unwise enough to stand your ground an ambulance was quickly required.
It was at one such meeting when things became really out of hand and the police, who always attended our meetings, moved in in force. They had evidently decided that enough was enough and rounded up a number of youngsters, including me. We were bundled into a large police van, the door of which was covered with a metal frame. It felt like being in a cage and the atmosphere became very subdued.
The younger ones, including me, were made to give the usual details and were asked where our parents could be contacted. They were told to come and pick us up. Most parents arrived in a very short time and it was made clear there would be a whole lot of trouble when they reached home. My father decided otherwise - he obviously felt it might give me food for thought if he left me until the next morning.
Actually, although I didn't get any sleep, I learned a great deal about a policeman's lot during the small hours and it was not a happy one. They dealt with drunks, street people and some very abusive people, and my vocabulary increased considerably! A very nice sergeant gave me cups of strong tea with lots of sugar and two arrowroot biscuits. I think he knew I wasn't a real criminal, just a rather stupid brainwashed youngster, and with hindsight I have to agree with him.
I left the Blackshirts when I met the boy who was eventually to become my husband. By then it was 1938 and preparations were going on for war, like sandbags, shelters and gas masks. My boyfriend, who had joined the Territorials, was called up and was whisked off to the Cornwall coast on a London bus, and there given a rifle but no ammunition!
War finally came and sitting alone one evening I turned on my little battery radio and was astounded to hear a voice I knew only too well saying 'Germany calling! Germany calling!' The voice still held an audience even though the messages raised the blood pressure of any red-blooded Englishman. These messages continued every evening and eventually William Joyce came to be known as Lord Haw Haw. He had left this country and joined forces in Germany with our enemies and therefore became a traitor. The war ended and William was brought home, to be tried and sentenced to death by hanging.
I clearly remember the morning the sentence was carried out. I got up early and left the family sleeping; I sat quietly by the window until the clock struck the hour and I knew it was all over and William was no more. But he had stuck to his beliefs till the end and I think, in his case at least, he really believed in the Blackshirt cause, misguided as it was. But as he was often heard to say: 'You can't win 'em all.'
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