Bombs dropped in the ward of: Harringay
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Harringay:
- 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 Harringay
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by Herts Libraries (BBC WW2 People's War)
Keith Ranger — Wartime Memories Part One
Q: Can you tell me about your childhood during the war?
A: When war broke out I was 3 years old — I can’t remember much about the declaration.
Q: What were your first memories — can you remember gas masks?
A: I remember gas masks — I don’t think I had a Mickey Mouse one — my wife had a Mickey Mouse one, unfortunately she hasn’t kept it — but I know I had a gas mask and would have to go to school with gas mask over my shoulder and as we walked to school we used to pick up pieces of shrapnel, they were pieces of bombs or bullets. they used to be lying all over the road and we used to prize these if you found a nice bright silvery one they were quite treasured at school.
Q: Where were you living?
A: I lived in London. I lived near Finsbury Park, I lived on the other side of Finsbury Park to the Arsenal ground — that’s on one side and I lived on the other side of the park. I didn’t support Arsenal actually I support Tottenham Hotspur because my father was a season ticket holder at Tottenham, he actually went to White Hart Lane school so my father supported Tottenham so I supported Tottenham - whereas most of my friends supported Arsenal naturally being so close to the Arsenal ground.
It might be interesting for young people to know that the Arsenal actually shared a ground with Tottenham during the war — the Arsenal ground was commissioned by the Army — so Arsenal didn’t have a ground in those days, they used to share the ground with Tottenham and used to go along to Tottenham every Saturday because there was always a game — one week it would be Tottenham and next week it would be Arsenal at the Tottenham ground. When you went to see the games you didn’t know quite who would be playing — sometimes it was someone called ‘A.N.Other’ because they weren’t quite sure who was going to be playing, and often you would get people like Corporal so and so and one of my favourites was Sgt. Ditchburn — Ted Ditchburn who used to play in goal at Tottenham, he was a Sgt. On the programme it cost a penny I think it used to be Sgt. Ditchburn playing goal for Tottenham.
Q: Did your dad work?
A: My father worked in Smithfield Market and therefore was a reserved occupation but he had to go into London, most nights he’d come home from work got a little sleep then go back into London into the City into Smithfield and do some fire watching which was looking out for enemy aircraft, he also had to fight the blaze and repair the damage which was incurred on London during the blitz, he was in fact quite lucky towards the end of the war there were things called V2 rockets, these came after the V1 rockets, I’ll explain more about those in a moment.
The V2 you didn’t know when they were going to come they were very quick and they were the forerunner really of space travel, a lot of these people that worked on the V2 rockets were taken by the British and Americans after the war and worked on space programmes, but these rockets came across and just plunged into a town without any thought as to who they were going to hit, they weren’t targeted in any particular place.
One fell on the market itself and smashed it to smithereens, many people were killed and badly injured in that raid but my father was very fortunate in that respect because although he was in the market at the time the blast went around him because he was behind a very big pillar which held up the market and from the market there used to be a little underground railway where they used to transport the mail and the blast when it hit also travelled underneath the ground which is why it caused so many casualties and so much damage, so my father was very lucky that night. I did have picture of the market after it got hit and my eldest son actually gave it away — he gave it to someone who was doing a history of Smithfield Market and my son thought it would be very interesting to him and I haven’t seen it since, I’m not sure where that photograph is now. But it’s a rather famous photograph of the whole market in fire and collapsed buildings. It might be interesting because my wife’s father he also was in that sort of thing at one time, he did fire watching also in London until he went into the Army and went over to India but they lived in the East End, my wife’s family all come from the East End, they got very badly bombed and their house was a few that was still standing and when my father-in-law had to go to work or to go fire watching or whatever he often had to tread across all the people that were asleep in the hallway of the house to get to the front door.
I lived in London, near Finsbury Park and also near Haringey Arena. You have probably heard of Haringey which is not receiving good press at the moment, but when I lived there there used to be an Arena and a Stadium unfortunately neither are there anymore but they used to have the big boxing competitions in the Arena, even the world championships were fought in the Arena and the Stadium was next to it and they used to have speedway and greyhound racing and so on. But during the War the Arena was taken over by American troops so there were lots of Yanks around and we used to scrounge chewing gum from them, “Have you got any gum chum?” and invariably they used to give us the chewing gum and they used to give us rides in the tanks around the area.
Also the other side of Finsbury Park near Highbury Stadium was the main line out of Kings Cross so these were two areas very strategically placed for the Germans to attack so we used to have quite a lot of bombing and attacks on us and when it got quite bad, Mum decided we should be evacuated but we were evacuated to Chalfont St Giles, unfortunately Mum didn’t like it very much as it was very lonely and we were on a farm and coming from an area of London she was very lonely and there was just her and I and the people that owned the farm and after three weeks only we decided to go back to London and take our chances really. We lasted longer than my wife. She was evacuated to Peterborough and lasted ten days and they couldn’t stand it either, so they went back to London.
So when we went back to London we went back to our own house and because the raids were so bad we got, I don’t know if we had to buy them in those days or we were given them by the Government, but we had a shelter called a Morrison shelter and this was like a cage, a reinforced cage which stayed in the bedroom really and I used to sleep most of the time in this cage thing but if it got really bad, if the bombing got bad, my Mum and Dad used to get in it as well, which left my Nan, who lived with us, upstairs. If it got really bad, we had to take other action, and the action we took was to go to next door, because next door had a shelter called an Anderson shelter and this shelter was actually built in the garden. It was a very small garden that we had and it was back to back houses so the gardens were very small but they had the Anderson built in the garden and they were very kind to us and we used to have to get into this Anderson shelter so there were quite a few of us in there. So to get there we had to climb over the garden wall because we had a brick wall that separated the garden houses as you did in those days, there was a 4ft brick wall. We had to climb over this wall and not only was there a wall but because we didn’t have much food in those days even though my Dad worked in Smithfield we were rationed, so what my father did was to build some chicken runs all round the garden, and as I say, it wasn’t a very big garden, so we built these chicken runs around the garden and we also had some rabbit hutches, we used to keep rabbits on the top, so we had to climb over the wall and the chicken run and rabbit hutches to get to next doors garden to get into their shelter and my Grandmother as well so there was not only next doors family, the mother and father and their son, who was in fact my bestman when I got married. There were those three and there was all of us that got into this Anderson shelter until the all clear went and then we clambered back over the wall again into our own house.
Q: So, how often did this occur, that you had to go next door?
A: Probably two or three times a week we had to climb over the wall. It depended on the seriousness of the raid really, as you know the siren went and you would know that the bombers would start dropping, so you got prepared for that so you instinctively new if it was going to be a bad one or it was going to be just a few sort of recognisance aircraft may be dropping a few flares or something, as I say we used to go in there and pull the door shut and take our chances really. But not only did we have chickens and rabbits and we also thought we should have a duck and that would be nice for a Sunday lunch or something so we bought this duck, I can’t remember where we got it from now, I think Porterbella market we got it from. So we got this bath and sunk it in the ground at the end of the garden and put Donald the Duck in the thing, so he lasted as we just couldn’t kill him as we just didn’t have the heart to kill him, we used to kill the rabbits and the chickens and eat them but we just didn’t have the heart to kill Donald and he died of old age quite a long while after the war had finished.
Q: Presumably the chickens gave you eggs as well?
A: Oh, the chickens gave us eggs as well and things that I can remember was Mum making up the food for them and all the stuff used to go in the big pot and she used to buy some stuff to mix with it and this feed the chickens and the rabbits and also Donald of course, he was quite plump when he passed away.
Contributed originally by Herts Libraries (BBC WW2 People's War)
Keith Ranger — Wartime Memories Part Two
Q: Can you remember how you felt when you were in the shelters, because you were quite young weren’t you?
A: Yeah, this is something I have firmly believe in that when you are young, if you see this sort of thing going on around you, you don’t really realise there is anything else in life. When I see people in Iraq or not so much Iraq but certainly in Ireland when the troubles were bad there. The young people, people thought wasn’t it terrible if they were throwing stones or something but if you were bought up in that environment you really don’t know anything else. You don’t know that there is a better life because that is the life you live with so you don’t know anything else. I was quite happy with my childhood I thought it was great.
Q: Can you remember any other changes in the house? So for instance, what happened if you showed a light?
A: We did get partially bombed. A bomb fell quite close to us, in fact it demolished some houses not faraway from us and the blast actually blew out our windows and took some slates of the roof. So I remember for sometime we had it just boarded up. It was quite interesting because next door to us that was even nearer to the bad blast was, they had their roof taken off. The roof was very badly damaged in that house as well and in 1984 I think it was, they finally got around to putting a new roof on, no sorry the new roof was put on prior to that. I think the new roof was put on in about 1980 or something. But unfortunately the roof that they repaired, they put on concrete tiles so they put these concrete tiles that you see on modern houses these days, but our house was quite an old one and we had the old fashioned slates on which weren’t quite as heavy as the concrete tiles and my mother and father were still living there in 1984 and I used to go back and see them because I lived in Berkhamsted then and the front of next doors house started to bow and I said to my mother and father that doesn’t look very safe and I was around there one day and there was an almighty crash and the concrete tiles proved to be too heavy for the roof and the whole roof just collapsed through, so it was just like being in the war again. Fortunately the woman that lived there was in the back of the house so she wasn’t hurt. I lost my grandfather in the first World War, but my Nan for many years lived on her own and I was the only one until after the war when my brother came along, I used to go and sleep with my Nan a lot of the time when the raids weren’t too bad and she used to sing me the old London songs and that is where I got the interest in musical hall. The favourite song I used to like was ‘Strolling along down the Mile End Road’. My Nan used to sing it every Saturday night and I have still have got that interest in the old time music hall. I belong to a group in Berkhamsted that does old time music halls for charity, we raised I think £4,000 about four, five months ago, so I love the old songs and I also like music and try to play the keyboard as well, so I think I have got that interest from those times as well.
My Mother used to do some War work as well along with my Nan as well. They used to make clothes for the troops. They were both good machinists and we had two singer machines in the house and they used to make clothes. One of the things they used to make a lot of were the khaki ties and the RAF ties and I don’t know if you know, but the ties are made inside out and when you make them you make them inside out and then you have a stick which you put in it and push one end and it goes in and it turns them the right way round and that was my job. Nan and Mum used to make these ties and I used to have this special stick and used to have to push these sticks through the ties to put them the right way round. So that was what they used to make mostly, they used to make shirts as well but mostly ties.
Q: Did they have to collect the material from someone?
A: That I can’t remember. I can’t remember where they got the material from it just suddenly appeared and I don’t know where they went but I know they used to make these ties and the shirts at home.
And the other thing that my Mum used to do, which I have got an interest in is Maps because after the D Day landings of course, Mum and I used to plot the advance of the British and American and Canadian troops and so on as they advanced through Europe. So we used to have this big map of Europe on the dining room table every morning and we used to listen to the news and we used to try and pick out the towns that the troops advanced into. I used to enjoy seeing the advance of the troops and Mum and I used to draw this line on this map of Europe to see where they advanced from and of course we also invaded Italy and we used to plot the advance of the troops along from the bottom of Italy. We used to plot the Russians coming in from the East of course, so we had three advances on Berlin, that’s were I got the interest in maps from, I have always had that interest and that stems from those days as well.
As I said to you, we had quite a lot of bombing around the area and there was one area that was particularly badly hit and a number of houses, perhaps 10 or 12 houses, were almost completely demolished and it was left like this for a long while. So at the end of the war we had lots of wood for a bonfire night so we had this big celebration after the war and there was plenty of wood because there was a lot wood on the houses like the staircases and the furniture and the window frames so we had an enormous big bonfire with a big guy on the top. So we set light to this bonfire and there was not restrictions in those days but the bonfire was so enormous that unfortunately that the heat was so intense it burnt the paint off of the house that had in fact survived the blast which were on the other side of the road, how they survived I don’t know but that is one of the peculiarities of bombing and all sorts of peculiar things happened. But the whole paint was burnt of the houses so we had to make a quick retreat but I remember people came out to through water on the bonfire but it took some time to douse the fire because it was so intense, the heat.
The other thing that I remember, in Finsbury Park itself, I don’t know if any of you know the park it is a venue now for a lot of concerts, pop concerts, it is a big venue but I can remember it because I used to go and kick a ball around and knock conkers off the trees that were there of course. But also during the war it had barrage balloons, these were balloons that were filled with light gas, you have probably seen pictures of them. They were suspended in the air, the idea was the planes would get caught up in the wire and they would get hit the barrage balloons but to my knowledge they didn’t work very well. But also they other thing they had in there was the anti aircraft guns. So not only did we have the noise of the aircraft’s but we also had the noise in the nights of the anti aircraft guns trying to shoot the aeroplanes down. But then of course the Germans stopped sending aircraft’s over then they started send the V1 rockets called doodlebugs and these things used to come over and they were quite slow but we knew they were coming because the noise of the engines you could hear them coming and they would stop and then Mum used to pray that it wouldn’t hit us and fortunately it didn’t. But of course it was a terrible time when the engine stopped and you just hopped that it wasn’t going to hit you. But when the V2’s came they were much quicker and you didn’t hear them coming and you didn’t know they were coming until you were hit and that was much worse. Perhaps it wasn’t worse were you didn’t have the suspense it was going to drop on you and it was worse when the engine stopped almost above you, it seemed as though it stopped almost above your house.
Q: Can you tell me how you used your ration book?
A: The ration books, well I didn’t do much shopping as I was too young but Mum used to take great care over the ration book because when you went into buy your whatever it was, your groceries because very often you were rationed as to how much you could have like margarine or bacon and you had points and those of you of have seen Dads Army and Corporal Jones in his butchers shop received the points on the customers and they had special customers that received just a little bit more. These ration books continued until after the war. You have probably heard people say that they never saw a banana, well I never saw a banana but I saw these imitation bananas used to hang up in these grocery shops and I never could understand what these things were because you never saw bananas and I have made up for it since because I quite like bananas.
Q: How did you think changed after the war? Because you were used to life during the War although to everyone else they would have been going back to times before the War.
A: I just think you though it was your lot you didn’t think that it was strange or anything. The end of the War was declared the War in Europe was declared over, the War in Japan was declared over and you just continued your life really, the only difference was that there was no one trying to kill you really.
Q: You didn’t have to carry gas masks?
A: No, you didn’t have to carry gas masks anymore. Wish I had kept them really know because they are quite valuable especially the mickey mouse ones.
Q: Do you remember the Morrison shelter leaving the house.
A: No not really, I think I can remember the Anderson shelter next door being taken away and I could also remember after the War the prefabricated houses being put up. Where I mentioned earlier on when we had the big bonfire and the houses were completely destroyed, that was eventually flattened and prefabricated houses were put on it. You can still see a prefabricated house in the Chiltern open air museum. These prefabricated houses were only supposed to last for a certain time, five or six years, but people were still living in them 20, 30 years after the War I think. In Lancashire, they are still living in them.
Images in Harringay
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