Bombs dropped in the ward of: Regent's Park
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Regent's Park:
- 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 Regent's Park
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by Bob Staten (BBC WW2 People's War)
When my son asked me if I should like to take part in this exercise, I said flippantly that my war could be summed up in two words, drink and promiscuity! However, it seemed to be a worthwhile project as so much of war does happen off-stage. I shall do my best to stick to the facts. Unfortunately, I have no records except a few old photographs.
During the 20’s and 30’s my friends and I mostly played at ‘War’ and it was always against the Germans. This is understandable because the First World War was fresh in people’s minds. Every house had its photographs, mementoes and stories of lost husbands, sons and relatives. The impressive one-minute’s silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is still with me. Walking with my father at Marble Arch and seeing the traffic halt and everyone standing by their vehicles with heads bowed was awe-inspiring to a young boy, and the silence so complete, on Remembrance Day.
I lived at 10, Capland House, Frampton Street, St. Marylebone, and my two friends ‘Pussy’ Hanlon and ‘Bimbo’ Jenner lived at flats 9 and 6. We often sat on the staircase and discussed which of the services we would join when war came. We assumed, quite naturally, that it would be against the Germans. In 1937, I joined the Royal Fusilier Cadets at Pond Street Drill Hall, Hampstead and learned how to drill and to use a rifle. We had .303 Lea Enfields and our own rifle range. There were trips to Shorncliffe Barracks, parades at the Fusilier memorial in Holborn and once, we took part in the inter-cadet shooting competition at Bisley. Because I liked the look of the red bandsmen’s uniform, I transferred to the band and became a bugle boy. In the summer of ’37, we went to Belgium as guests of the army. Every evening we ‘beat the retreat’ on the promenade in Ostend, which was appreciated by the holidaymakers. In the barracks, we also discovered that ‘Verboten Ingang’ means ‘Forbidden Entry’! When we visited the Menin gate, I played the ‘last Post’. This was a moving experience, especially after visiting the battlefields and extensive war-grave cemeteries with their endless crosses. The older men related their experiences to us, which made it all very real. We little thought that Belgium was soon to be overrun by the Germans once again.
I was sixteen when the war broke out, working as a motorcycle messenger boy, hoping to become a GPO telephone engineer. When it was formed, I left the cadets and joined the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), which eventually became the Home Guard. We wore our own civilian clothes with LDV armbands. One of our tasks was to guard the Telephone Exchange in Maida Vale. We had a variety of weapons and two or three rifles with little ammunition. I remember being on duty from midnight to 0200 hours when I was supposed to wake up the next man. He looked so old and frail that I was too shy to wake him up. The sergeant was not pleased to find me standing there in the early hours of the morning. We fully expected German parachutists to descend upon us in a variety of cunning disguises. They would not fool us because we would be able to see their jackboots! I think we were quite disappointed when nothing happened!
At home, we were busy filing sandbags to protect the fronts of our flats, sticking tape on the windows and making blackout curtains. We were issued with gas masks, which we practised putting on very quickly and sometimes walked around in them to get used to it. My two older brothers, Arthur and Bill joined the LDV and RAF respectively, Arthur to become a sergeant in the Home Guard and Bill a wireless operator/ air gunner. As I had to wait until I was 17 ½ before I could volunteer for the RAF Volunteer Reserve, I transferred to the Air Training Corps.Our Commanding Officer was an old Royal Artillery gunner who gave us lectures on spotting artillery positions from a tethered balloon that he remembered from the First World War. We had instruction in air-navigation, signalling and meteorology and spent a great deal of time over smartness and drill. One day we were visited by Claude Graham-White, the famous air pioneer, who lived locally. I was asked to welcome him by playing the ‘General salute’ on my bugle. He gave a most interesting talk about his air bombing experiments at Hendon before the First World War. He told us that he had marked out the shape of a full sized battleship in chalk on the ground, flown over it and dropped bags of flour. This was to show how aeroplanes would change the shape of war in the future. He was rather bitter because he said that the ‘brass-hats’ did not fully understand the significance of what he was so graphically demonstrating to them. Whilst in the ATC, I visited RAF Manston during the ‘phoney war’, when everyone seemed to be waiting for something to happen. They had a squadron of Hurricanes, a squadron of Blenheim Mk 1s, being used as fighters with four Browning machine guns fixed under the fuselage, and a squadron of Wellingtons, which were being used as magnetic-mine detectors. These looked extremely odd with large circular white electro-magnets completely encircling the underside of the aircraft. My ATC squadron was also engaged in helping a balloon barrage unit whose headquarters were in Winfield House, Regent’s Park. This was a grand palatial mansion which had belonged to Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress. The two sections with which I was involved were at Primrose Hill and Lord’s Cricket Ground. We mostly did guard duty but in rough weather and high winds, we sometimes manned the mooring ropes.
During the ‘phoney war’, air-raid shelters were being completed and were in place before the first air raids. These, once they started, became part of our lives and were so regular we knew when to expect them. We made our own fun, took out thermos flasks, sandwiches and blankets ready for a long stay down in the shelter. We had an old wind-up gramophone and a few records. The most popular were ‘In the Mood’ and ‘Begin the Beguine’. Quite often, we had a singsong with ‘Roll Out The barrel’, ‘Run Rabbit Run’, and many of the First World War favourites like ‘Pack up Your Troubles’. The older men seemed to relive the comradeship that they had known when they were in the trenches. My dad was always ready for the sirens with his shopping bag of food and drink and a pocketful of half-pennies to play his favourite game of ‘Ha’penny Brag’. In fact, he got quite impatient for the air raid to begin so that he could get settled in the shelter with his mates. ‘They’re late tonight son!’ was his regular critical comment of the enemy’s laxity.
We had two bombs on Frampton Street, one on a communal shelter next to the ‘Duke of Clarence’ and another on a block of flats next to ‘The Phoenix’. Many neighbours were killed. I particularly remember the ‘Clarence’ bomb. We heard it coming like an express train louder and louder seemingly meant for us, then a great flash and explosion, shaking and reverberations, then silence as if everyone was catching their breath. Then loud cries and screams. We were very shaken and shocked but blinded by choking smoke and dust and could taste dirt in our mouths. We had two stirrup pumps and put out some subsidiary fires in the street nearby. There were so many people helping or staggering about that the older men told us to keep out of the way. Another bomb fell, in daylight, at the junction of Luton Street and Penfold Street leaving a large crater. A local woman was injured and had to have her leg amputated below the knee. On another night, Mr Overhead, a friend of the family, was killed in his house in Orchardson Street near the fish and chip shop. During a very bad raid, we heard that Mann Egerton’s garage was ablaze so some of us went and pushed or drove out as many cars as we could and parked them in and around Church Street.
I volunteered for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve just before my 18th birthday (January 1941) at a recruiting centre off Euston Rd. Later, I had to go for various physical and aptitude tests. These took place at Euston House. Eventually, I received a letter confirming my acceptance for aircrew training enclosing a small silver RAF badge, which I wore proudly in my lapel. I continued with my ATC training and was made up to sergeant. It seemed ages but one day a letter arrived telling me to report to No 1 Air Crew Receiving Centre (ACRC) at Lord’s Cricket Ground on 3rd September 1941. This was just around the corner from my home and was nicked named ‘Arsey-Tarsey’! My dad’s advice as I left the house was ‘take care of your boots!’ This was because on his first day in the Royal West Kent regiment (The Buffs), someone had stolen his boots and he had never forgotten it.
When I arrived at the ground, I sat in the Mound Stand, which was marked alphabetically, and listened, with the other recruits to my first roll call. From Lord’s we marched to large blocks of luxury flats in Prince Albert Rd overlooking Regent’s park Canal. One of our first tasks was to take our oaths of loyalty to the King and to be given our official numbers, which we were told to memorise. On the second day, we marched to a large garage in Park Rd where we were kitted out. When we got back to our billets, we had great fun trying on our uniforms especially the long woollen underwear in which we sparred with each other like old time boxers. We were very proud when we walked out for the first time in our ‘best blue’ wearing the white flashes on our caps, which denoted that we were aircrew trainees. Whilst at Regent’s Park we used the Zoo restaurant for meals. As we queued up the monkeys greeted us with loud screeches and whoops, which we of course imitated to get them even more excited. Our time was mostly spent in drilling and learning about RAF regulations and expectations. We did some signalling with an Aldis Lamp and were introduced to Morse Code, which I fortunately had learned in the ATC. Aircraft recognition was given in Rudolph Steiner House in Park St. Some of us who needed it were given a crash course in mathematics, with particular attention to trigonometry. After 4 - 5 weeks, we were posted to Initial Training Wing (ITW) Torquay.When we arrived, my particular group were billeted in ‘Rosetor’ Hotel. Thus began a very vigorous and demanding programme of activities. Up very early jogging along the front, lots of physical training, marching, rifle drill until we were extremely fit and smart. We were given lessons in air navigation at Tor Abbey, signalling by buzzer and lamp, airmanship, aircraft recognition, gas drill, King’s regulations, administration and more mathematics. One day, we had to march in full kit with rifles about 10 miles inland to a small hamlet. We were told that this would be our line of defence if there were an invasion. When we had finished the course we ceased to be ACII’s (AC Plonks) and became Leading Aircraftsmen (LAC’s ) which entitled us to wear the propeller insignia on our sleeves.
From Torquay, we were posted to RAF Booker, near High Wycombe to be assessed as to our suitability for pilot training. The aircraft were Tiger Moths with open cockpits. We were taken up for air experience initially, but it wasn’t long before we were being thrown about the sky in a whole series of aerobatics to see if we could cope. After two or three weeks, we were posted to Heaton Park, Manchester prior to going overseas.
At Heaton Park we were billeted in private houses and had to report to the park for roll call every morning. We had one or two ‘pep-talks’ in the local cinema. One of these, I remember was by Godfrey Winn, the writer and broadcaster. After a couple of weeks, we were divided into groups destined to be trained in the USA, Canada or South Africa, which were all part of the Empire Training Scheme. We were not told of our destinations except for having to mark a code word on our kit bags. After embarkation leave, my group entrained for Greenock, Scotland where we boarded an American ship — ‘The George F. Elliott’. We were shown to our sleeping quarters, which were well below the water line, where we were packed suffocatingly into an area filled with five-tier bunks. I had a top bunk and could quite easily touch the men on either side and at my head and feet. I also had a hot pipe just above me on which I frequently burnt myself. Soon after embarking, we left the River Clyde and joined a straggle of ships. The Royal Navy gently shepherded us into some semblance of order and although they seemed to fuss and hoot around, gave us a great deal of confidence. This was greatly needed because the night before we had a religious service when we sung the hymn ‘For Those in Peril on the Sea' and we knew that this referred to us and our journey.
End of Part One
Images in Regent's Park
See historic images relating to this area:
Sorry, no images available.