Bombs dropped in the ward of: Brentford
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Brentford:
- 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 Brentford
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Contributed originally by Mike Hazell (BBC WW2 People's War)
I have worked overtime and rest days throughout Royal Ascot Week dozens of times over the years but I think the day I picked up Alf and Daisy is the freshest in my mind. It was a gorgeous day and my driver and I were on our normal service duty, 701 from Gravesend. I guessed the young couple who boarded us up the Old Kent Road were off to the races — best clothes and a paper carrier bag holding a warm cardigan, sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper and a lemonade bottle full of cold tea practically shouted “out for the day at Ascot” — and so it was. They sat about halfway up the coach, making a start on the sandwiches almost immediately after paying their fare. Alf had done the trip before and kept telling Daisy how quickly we should travel once we had left the London traffic behind and what a great day they were going to enjoy. Daisy was very quiet until we crossed the river at Lambeth Bridge and approached Victoria. Then, obviously in strange country, began to ply Alf with questions — “Where were we now?”, “How much farther was the race course?”, “What was the great big building over there?”. Although he had made the trip once before, I suspect that Alf had probably been more likely to be studying form in his newspaper than looking out the window at the passing scene but he rose to the occasion nobly and when he didn’t know the answer to a question he promptly made up one of his own. Thus I learnt that St. George’s Hospital at Hyde Park Corner was “some big toff’s house” and Hyde Park Corner itself became Marble Arch! Every time I passed up and down the coach collecting fares I overheard more of this highly amusing conversation and I must admit I began to see the route in quite a different light from that day on.
But the best was yet to come. Within about one and a half miles of our destination the coach had to slow down considerably as the Royal Carriage swung out of a lane in front of us. It was a beautiful sight — the horses groomed to perfection, the silver in the harness winking in the bright sunlight, the panels of the coach-work gleaming with a mirror-like polish and the groom and postillions at the back — very smart in their Royal Livery. Obviously they were going to pick up the Royal Family and take them to the course. Then, from behind me, came the unmistakable voice of Daisy with yet another question, “Why are we going so slow, Alf?” Not being able to see from his seat, Alf got up and walked to the front and I stood aside so that he could see the Royal Coach in all its glory. He took one look and then turned his head back to call out, “No wonder we’re going so blinking slow — we’re behind a HORSE AND CART!”
At least that episode was more amusing than yet another journey on the 701 route. My driver at the time was Tom, a young bachelor of about twenty-five who lived alone in a caravan at Wraysbury. We knew it would be a busy journey, leaving Staines at about 8 a.m. and due at Victoria about an hour later. The traffic was heavy through Houslow and Brentford and even heavier when we pulled up at traffic lights near Kew Bridge, alongside Brentford Market. The lights changed to green and the coach pulled away. Seconds later I became aware that strangled noises were coming from the driving cab alongside me. At first I thought Tom was trying to sing and turned to joke about the quality of his voice. To my horror I saw that he was half up from the driving seat, hands dropped from the wheel, saliva trickling from the corner of his mouth and eyes bolting from his head. Luckily, his foot had also slipped partly off the accelerator pedal but the engine was still running and the coach travelling at about ten miles per hour towards the oncoming traffic. Without consciously realising what I was doing, I leaned over, thrusting my right arm across Tom to reach the handbrake and struggling to pull the wheel towards the kerb with my left. To my relief, the coach responded, actually mounting the kerb and running some yards along it. Fate was kind that day as it was 4th October and my wedding anniversary and there were no cyclists riding on the nearside at that moment and no pedestrians standing on the kerbside.
Someone opened the door and the driver of a passing trolley bus who had witnessed the incident dashed in and turned off the engine while an inspector materialised to phone for an ambulance. The odd thing about the whole affair was that I remained as cool as a cucumber until after the ambulance had taken poor Tom off to hospital — even writing out an auxiliary waybill and getting the passengers on the next coach to continue their journey — but as soon as that was accomplished I almost collapsed and had to be half carried into a nearby teashop till I felt fit enough to travel again. I felt a real fool — shaking like a leaf and crying like a baby for almost twenty minutes. A team of mechanics arrived from Chiswick Works to examine the coach and, finding everything in order, take it back to Chiswick for a more detailed check-up. Until we knew what was wrong with Tom it was always possible that he had been affected by fumes or even suffered an electric shock of some kind.
The inspector put me on a bus back to Staines where I had to make a detailed report, both written and verbal, to the Chief Inspector and arrived to find that the news had gone before me and I was treated like some kind of heroine. True — I had averted what might have been a very serious accident, but since I had acted without even thinking about it and since I had been moved by nothing more heroic than a strong sense of self preservation I felt rather a fraud. Probably sensing this Ron Coles — a depot inspector at that time but now the Chief — told me the police would almost undoubtedly be along to arrest me soon on a charge of driving without a licence!
We later learned that Tom had suffered an epileptic fit and would no longer be allowed to drive for us. Apparently, when questioned by the doctors, he could remember waking up on the floor of his caravan on several occasions in the past and had believed that he had nothing more than a restless night. The attack on the coach was the first time that the affliction had manifested itself in waking hours. Thus make it possible to diagnose and treat him.
The following day, with a relief driver, I did the same duty and one of the passengers brought me a big box of chocolates. It was a very nice gesture on her part but there was another sequel to the story that still makes me laugh when I remember it. On completing the day’s work I was told that I was to go to London to meet one of the Board Managers who wished to thank me for my actions the day before. Instead of reporting for work I was to present myself at Western House, Oxford Circus at 10 a.m. and even provided with a special Green Line Pass for the occasion. When the news got around in the garage my mates began to speculate as to what form the gratitude would take — a life-saving medal, perhaps? It was almost certainly a sum of money — estimations going even as high as twenty pounds.
Although still feeling something of a fraud and very embarrassed over the whole affair I duly arrived at Western House and entered the office where I was greeted by a very distinguished gentleman whose name I never caught and do not know to this day. After congratulating me on my presence of mind and coolness of action he mentioned that his fellow members on the board agreed that I deserved some sort of reward for my bravery and enquired as to whether I had been a special Green Line Pass to travel from Staines. On being assured that this was the case he went on to say that I was being paid and would not have to work that day so the rest of the day was my own and I was free to use the Pass and go wherever I liked on the Green Lines for the rest of the day! Somehow I managed to keep a straight face while thanking him and leaving the office only to collapse into a fit of giggles on emerging into Oxford Circus. Passers-by must have thought I was crazy but the thought of rewarding a Green Line conductor with a free pass to travel round for a day was really rather comical. After spending eight hours every working day doing just that the last thing I wanted on my day off was a Green Line ride! Instead I returned, mostly by Underground, to Hounslow and then bus to Staines — it was quicker that way! Within an hour of leaving London I was handing in the special pass and telling my mates about the interview. I am certain that at least half of them believed I was making it all up but an official report came back to the Chief Inspector the following week to verify what I had said. I’m still laughing!
For some reason the incidents I remember on the 725 road are almost all linked to bad weather conditions; heavy fogs between Bromley and Crayford, deep snow between Dartford and Gravesend and a torrential downpour that flooded Crayford for a depth of four feet and held us up for several hours. As the coaches were heated we rarely wore overcoats and a sudden fog would mean the conductor leaning out of the open door to keep an eye on the kerb and guide the driver along the road. Not as bad as walking in front of the tram with a flare perhaps but a cold and miserable duty when you were twenty miles from home and shivering in a summer uniform, so I was somewhat less than delighted when I was approached by a lady passenger warmly clad in a fur coat and gloves who complained of the draught caused by the open door and couldn’t we go a bit faster as she didn’t want to be late at the Bridge Club! This thoughtless remark left me speechless — but not so my driver, however — he brought the coach to a halt, closed the door and climbed out of the driving seat, “Here you are, ducks,” he said, holding the door to the cab open, “There’s a nice heater in there to keep your feet warm — see if you can get us there any quicker!” Without another word the irate passenger meekly returned to her seat and we proceeded on our way.
We dreaded deep snow, especially between Dartford and Gravesend. There were several gravel pits some ten feet or so from the road with only a frail wire fence between the coach and a sheer drop of sixty feet or more. No matter how slowly and carefully the coach was driven there was always the danger of a heavy lorry skidding into us and sending us over the top. I suppose the sand and gravel lorry drivers were on piecework — they always seemed to be driving like maniacs on that road no matter what the weather was like. One of our coaches did bring the wire down once but, mercifully, came to a halt a bare eighteen inches from the edge.
In a heavy downpour one day, on a narrow winding country lane between Chislehurst and Sidcup, we were overtaken by a car. Spotting another car coming round the bend in the opposite direction, the lady driver cut in front of us very sharply and my driver had to brake very quickly in a vain attempt to avoid hitting her car, the front of the coach catching the tail light of the car as it swerved in front of us. Our relief, that the accident was nothing more than a broken taillight, was very short lived. Those old RF coaches were notorious for vicious back-wheel skids and this one was no exception — the back came round right in the path of the oncoming car, crushing the bonnet and offside wheel and smashing the windscreen. By some miracle, the driver was unhurt but absolutely furious — the car was only three days old and looked a total wreck. Climbing across the passenger seat, he charged down the road towards the lady driver, by now out of her car, waving her hands in the air and in tears on surveying the damage she had caused. She looked so pathetic and apologetic that the poor man stopped shouting and swearing and ended up putting an arm round her and supplying a large white handkerchief to dry her tears!
Of course, all accidents have to be fully reported on the appropriate form at the conclusion of the day’s work, in the crew’s own time, and all accidents are entered on the driver’s record should London Transport decide that their driver was in the wrong. Despite a letter of abject apology from the lady driver and another from the driver of the wrecked car stating that, in his opinion, the accident involving his own car was totally unavoidable; my driver was held to blame on two counts: 1) He was too close to the car in front and 2) He had been trained on the skid patch at Chiswick on how to control a skid and was, therefore, to blame for damaging the other car! In vain, he protested that all skid patch training was with a double deck bus on an enormous square half the size of a football pitch — whereas the accident involved an RF coach on a narrow country lane. His appeal was dismissed, he lost a day’s pay and the accident was entered on his record sheet.
I suppose the reason behind such harsh judgements is to keep the drivers alert to possible accident situations in future, though it frequently results in a driver giving notice and leaving the job. There is no doubt that London Transport employs some of the finest drivers in the world as a result of such high standards.
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