Bombs dropped in the ward of: De Beauvoir
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in De Beauvoir:
- 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 De Beauvoir
Read people's stories relating to this area:
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.'
Contributed originally by dottie5 (BBC WW2 People's War)
RETURN TO LONDON.
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.
THE BOMBING: A DIRECT HIT ON THE LIBRARY.
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.
A TASTE OF SHEER TERROR.
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.
'WE HEARD THE ‘BOOM BOOM’ OF OUR ANTI-AiRCRAFT GUNS
AND PEDPLE STARTED TO LEAVE. "
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.
"STOP FOR NOTHING." AN UNEXPLODED LAND MINE.
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.
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