Bombs dropped in the ward of: Stratford and New Town
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Stratford and New Town:
- 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:
Memories in Stratford and New Town
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by The Stratford upon Avon Society (BBC WW2 People's War)
The Stratford upon Avon Society and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
12a - Transcription of an interview that took place on the 18th February, 2005
Neville Usher Dr.Michael Coigley
Neville Usher: … you can tell, the tape recorder, it works but it’s noisy. And I am just transcribing one now were the problem is that the lady had got a canary with the loudest voice I have ever come across, it’s a job to hear.
Dr. Michael Coigley: Talking about birds, well I can tell you a lovely story about old Mrs. Tromans who was very old when she died in Alveston, and she had this budgerigar, and we went in to see her one evening and shut the door loudly, I didn’t hear what it said, but she said oh she said I am sorry, did you hear that, did you hear that? Oh I said no what? Oh she said the budgerigar, she said I got that she said when my dad died, after the war and it had been with him all the war in London, and if there’s ever a loud bang anywhere, it says “bugger old Hitler”, and if you slammed the door like we did, you could just hear this budgerigar saying “bugger old Hitler”.
Neville Usher: My grandparents had a friend who was the first female police officer in Birmingham, and one of my earliest memories is being taken to see this lady who lived in Yardley by the cemetery there and she had a parrot, and the parrot used to say “I’m Polly Miles, who the devil are you”?
Anyway, it’s Friday the 18th of February 2005, and we are at 6 The Fold, Payton Street, Stratford, it’s 11.15 and it’s very nice to be talking to Michael Coigley.
Could we just start very briefly with where you were born and how you came to Stratford and then move on to the war Mike?
Dr. Michael Coigley: Oh crikey. I was born in central London, the other side of the road from the Middlesex Hospital in a flat in a property which my father and grandfather later bought, and there’s a long story to that. And then we moved very quickly to Sidcup in Kent where my maternal grandfather was Borough Surveyor and Engineer, he had been head-hunted. He was a civil engineer of some repute really, he used to design …, he was very good at designing sewerage disposal systems. Well they got him in to oversee the first big East End slum overspill out of London to around Sidcup. And we had this lovely house which was an old medieval house with a Victorian extension on it, and he said better move because it is coming right behind you, so we moved out to Sevenoaks, I was born in London.
And then I was at Sevenoaks School, which is I think the first school to bring in the international baccalaureate, very progressive school and always very high up. The oldest …, one of the oldest grammar schools in the country, the only school mentioned by Shakespeare in one of his plays. Lord Sackville from Old House owned a lot of property round here of course, owned Halls Croft at one time, the Sackville’s, and in Henry VI part II, (shall I go on with this, because it’s very …?)
Neville Usher: Yes please, yes.
Dr. Michael Coigley: In Henry VI part II, when Jack Cave the Kentish rebel gets to Smithfield in London and is confronted by Lord Saye and Sele who now lives at
Broughton Court …, Broughton Castle near Banbury. Well Sele is a little place next to Sevenoaks in Kent and he took his …, it was a Norman title that he took the title Sele from Sele next to Sevenoaks and he and Sir William Sennard were the two founders of Sevenoaks School in 1432, and it’s the only school he has anything to do with, and Jack Cave before they behead him on stage says you are condemned for corrupting the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school, so that has been researched and well is obviously Sevenoaks School,it was found out,it is the only school.
Anyhow, I was taking a scholarship to Cambridge called The Tankred Scholarship, King Tankred of Sicily was the Norman King of Sicily in 1065/66, and of course they went both ways the Normans didn’t they, they went to Sicily and England, William came here, went both ways. And he’d been worried, this Norman Tankred was English by now in the sixteenth century that scientists were becoming too specialized at a young age, this scholarship had to take in history, classics, something else, in order to read a science, so I never used it because the war came, and I didn’t want to spend the next 18 months studying medicine.
And I remained a medical student during the war because I was actually a “Bevin Boy” (do you know the Bevin Boys?)
Neville Usher: Yes
Dr. Michael Coigley: And the only way I could get out of going down the mines was to remain a medical student which I did so I was at St. Thomas’s during most of the war; we were evacuated of course down to Surrey, and then we came back to very difficult things at St. Thomas’s. And I then met …, I met Sylvia my wife whilst I was there, I then went in the army after I had been qualified for two years and went out east, thinking we were going to have a nice time but spent two years trekking through the jungle after the ruddy bandits.
Neville Usher: Oh dear, in Burma, or …?
Dr. Michael Coigley: No, Malaya, Malaya, it was after the war you see, it was ’48, the Malaya emergency started in June ’48. And then I came back and did a few jobs and wondered what to do, and then Scot Trick who was a partner - do you remember Scot Trick, old Trick? Well Scot Trick who was a partner in the Bridge House practice, the senior partners being Harold Girling, Dudley Marks and Scot Trick, Offley Evans and etc. And he had a very bad coronary on New Year’s day 1954 and for some reason, I can never know why and he wasn’t quite sure, the secretary of the medical school from St. Thomas’s rang me and said (because Dudley Marks was a St. Thomas’s man), and he was a local surgeon, he was a senior surgeon, South Warwickshire, one of the old GP surgeons you know, and he had rung the medical school saying do you know anybody who wants a job quick? So he rang me and said there’s a job going up there if you’re interested, and I said well I don’t know really, I wanted to be a cardiologist at the time, and I was working in the hospital you see, senior registrar in the hospital in Chichester, and Sylvia’s mother was dying of alchziemers just outside Leominster where they lived, Herefordshire, and we were going backwards and forwards and so I rang ‘em up, going up the next weekend, and came for the interview on Saturday morning with Harold Girling and Dudley Marks, and Offley was there, and out of interest and that was that, and the following Sunday Harold Girling rang me up and said when can you start? Well I had sort of dismissed it from my mind really and we had to think very deeply about this because I had this job, I had to get a release etc. from it, but with my mother in law being so ill, deep in the country, and Sylvia going backwards and forward all the while, so we decided if I could get released I would take it, although I could go back to the hospital you know after a couple of years, anyhow I never went back to the hospital because I liked it so much here, and it’s been great, so that’s how I got to Stratford.
Neville Usher: And what about the Second World War, what did you …?
Dr. Michael Coigley: Well I was in dad’s army of course, and my father who was auctioneer, chartered surveyor, estate agent etc. in Kensington in London (his business of course went), so he took a job doing war damage survey work covering over all the East End bombs and everything, and he’d been in the trenches in the ‘14/18 war of course my dad, and “The Lion” kept getting bombed, and so they moved, everybody was being evacuated, they moved further into London, they moved into Chislehurst, and at that moment I had got a place in medical school, and I well remember the interview I had for medical school because I went up with my father and I saw a very famous chap Thompson, Big Bill Thompson who was then at medical school a famous chap, and we went to see Chu Chinn Chow at the Palace Theatre that night, and there was a hell of an air raid, we weren’t allowed out of the theatre (we got out about three o’clock/four o’clock in the morning at the end), and being entertained by the cast marvellously all night you know, and got home to find there was a telegram to say that I had got a place in the medical school.
And neighbours at Chislehurst, and the Home Guard headquarters was next door to us actually at Chislehurst, and I was in that, but then the medical school were evacuated to Surrey, and it was a military hospital that had been built at Guildford, outside Guildford, and they took that over ‘cos Thomas’s was bombed quite badly, and about the only hospital really …, but they were after the Houses of Parliament of course which is the other side of the river, right opposite, and so there I was and I qualified at the end of ’46, and took my degree in March ’47.
But during that time you know, Chislehurst was right on the …, whenever I was at home I had to get up every night to firewatch on the roof and that sort of thing ‘cos you had got incendiaries all round you, you know, and funnily enough yesterday I went to see the Orpen, William Orpen exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, it is a brilliant exhibition and I was just walking out and there was a chap and his teenage son, and he can’t have been more than, I should think he was forty, something like that, they were looking at the V1 and the V2, doodlebug, and the V2 and I heard him say …, I just stopped to have a look and he said to his son, of course that was the V1 and that was the V2 big rocket, and he turned to me and he said “am I right”? He had diagnosed me brilliantly! Am I right? And I said yes you are absolutely right, and I can tell you about the very first V2 which dropped on this country, it dropped at Petts Wood and my mum was just doing the washing up in their top flat in Chislehurst and she got the cutlery, the crockery, she got the crockery together on the sink, on the drainer, and she took some of it to put in the cupboard along the wall and as she did that there was a hell of a bang and the window over the sink came straight past her and pretty well hit the wall, and that was the first; and nobody knew what it was of course. We had had the V1s of course, the put, put puts!
Neville Usher: But they couldn’t pick it up with radar or shoot it down, it was so fast?
Dr. Michael Coigley: No, a rocket. But I tell you a story about the V1s, because they had this ram jet engine, they went “put, put, put” they came on, when it cut out you knew it had gone somewhere, and they used to sort of hear the wind whistle when they came down, and I came off Home Guard duty early one morning, and I thought oh I just popped in home, took my uniform off though it’s not worth doing anything, I’ll go to bed, and went down to the station, caught an early train, went into the students’ club at St. Thomas’s, saw a chap called Dempster there, arrived at the same time (a very good fly half he was by the way, died about two years ago), and we said let’s have a game of snooker. So we went into the billiard room and we were having a …, and we heard put, put, put, we heard this V1 approaching, we looked out of the window and it was coming actually straight for us in the club. We looked at each other, we got under the billiard table and shook hands and nothing happened, nothing happened, we hard it whistle past, an air current took it up and it went along York Road and it dropped on a siding of Waterloo Station and that caused some trouble because it hit a tanker which had some phosphorous substance in it, took the top off a bus, killed a lot of people, and we all rushed over to casualty, and police came in and somebody had discovered this phosphorous liquid stuff in this tanker, and it’s a devil if you don’t get it off the skin, and it’s undetected you can see it, so we got the books down, and it’s very simple, you make a solution of copper sulphate like you used for bathing, wash it over it goes black, and you can see it, otherwise it goes on boring if you don’t.
But there were so many experiences during the war. I was on duty the Sunday morning in casualty that the doodlebug fell on the Guards Chapel, that was carnage that was terrible, and we had all the casualties in from that and I can see a Guards Sergeant Major, and funnily enough I served with The Guards out in Malaya later, and being lead up the ramp to casualty with a guardsman in his arms, all of them just covered in blood and god knows what and his face shattered, he couldn’t see and yet he had another guardsman in his arms, he was 6’2” or so the Sergeant Major, and another guardsman you know, I thought you know these chaps are marvellous.
Contributed originally by msbellvue (BBC WW2 People's War)
I was 4 years old when the big day came, September 3rd. 1939.
It took a while before the war started to affect us. It must have been sometime in 1940 that I first remember being woken by my old mum bless her, I remember it was so dark and very cold and she would never, never wake us till the buggers where right overhead.
This was West Ham, deep in the East End of London, with a railway yard, 2 chemical factories and a pumping station at the back of us and right in the middle was No.6 Pond Road.
Before the balloon went up some men came and dug a big hole in our tiny back yard and I saw what is now known as an Anderson shelter, it had 2 long benches inside and this was where we were going to spend many a long night.
My dad had died when I was a baby so my mum, sister and myself found things pretty hard. My mum worked shift Work in one of the chemical factories called Berks.
My sister had been evacuated to Newbury in Berkshire, so when mum was doing her shifts I would be farmed out to different neighbors.
We lived next door to a bakery which was owned by 2 brothers and these 2 men used to be in our shelter and had made themselves at home before we were able to get there, my mother did not like the situation one bit.
My mates and I would scour the streets in the morning after a raid looking for spent cases and pieces of shrapnel, sometimes this was still warm and the shell cases were great for swapping with your mates.
As the war went on us kids became used to dog fights in the sky, planes leaving vapor trails and weaving in and out with there guns blazing it was very exciting to us.
Many, many bombs fell in and around West Ham, one of my sister’s friends was killed during a bombing raid and many of our local shops were also flattened. A school, which was used as a fire station received a direct hit and many firemen were killed.
One of the most amazing night I remember was of being hauled out of bed, taken to the shelter, we were in there all night, the noise was incredible, all we had at the entrance to the shelter was a piece of wood about a yard square and so while all this was going on I peeped out and the picture I saw has stayed with me as though it was yesterday. The sky was alight with color, searchlights were lighting the sky, fighter planes weaving about with there machine guns blazing, the planes were very low and all the time you could hear the loud bangs from the bombs, that picture will stay with me forever.
Next morning not a window was left in our house, our street was completely wrecked, there was slates missing from the roofs and none of the house had windows. There were police everywhere, I remember the street being roped off, my mum was inside collecting things together, then I don’t remember how we got there but we ended up in Mill Hill. We stayed with a lovely family and I remember being given a box of lead soldiers and this was one of the best gifts I was given as a child. I can’t remember how long we stayed with these people but when we got home our house was clean, windows, doors and roofs were as new.
As the days went by and the bombing got worse we had to go to these big underground shelters where there were rows of bunk beds, these were in rows and you were sleeping next to people you had never seen before. There were crowds of us every night walking to the shelters with our blankets, some even took mattresses with them.
You got hardly any sleep and you didn’t know if your house would be there when you got back in the morning. Mums and Dads still had to go to work the next day How they did it I will never know. Could the young people of today do it? I don’t think so, do you?
One day the YANKS came to Pond Road, now the only Americans we knew were in the films so obviously to us kids back home in America they had all been either cowboys or some sort of gangsters like James Cagney.
Where the houses had once stood they started to put up prefabs, they gave us chocolate and gum and we looked at these tanned men in with our mouths open we found them unbelievable. They gave us their time and would stand and talk to us in a way that we were not used to and to us we felt they were all like the film stars we saw at the cinema, they were all so nice and nothing seemed to much trouble for them.
Not far away from where I lived was Carpenters Road, which had lot of factories which had been bombed out and the rubbish had been cleared and a prisoner of war camp had been built there, in it the prisoners were all Italians, they all wore dark battledress and on the back was either a large yellow diamond or circle. We would often see them walking about, we never spoke to them, but we would stare at them till they were out of site.
Sometimes we would see these prisoners with English girls, now this did not mean a lot to us children, but they would be told off by some of the mum’s and the older men as they were the enemy.
One time my girl friend came to our house crying and said her sister’s boyfriend had been killed in the war. I remember everyone just being so quiet. After that whenever we saw her sister, whose name was Vera, she was always alone.
Where my sister was evacuated was quite a nice place, we went to see her once. The house she lived in was opposite a huge park, once a German plane shot at her and her friends as they played in the park luckily he missed and nobody was hurt. Another time a German plane crashed in the park and my sister said they took the pilot away.
As the months wore on more and more parts of West Ham disappeared, whole rows of houses would be there one day and gone the next. In a part of West Ham there was a part you could walk from Stratford to Becton dumps, this long walk was called the “Sewers Bank” it is quite hard to describe what it looked like because I have never seen anything like it since. If you can imagine a really high grass covered bank at leasts30ft. or more high and under this ran a huge sewer pipe about 6ft. in diameter, it carried sewage and went over bridges which were over roads and rivers and went on for miles and miles. One day there was a mighty explosion and a V2 rocket had hit the side of the bank, lots of houses went in the blast and the smell was unbelievable.
You often hear Londoners say, “the Germans bombed our chip shop” well in our case it was true. I was in a neighbors having some dinner, I will never forget, it was stew, when BANG, the ceiling came down in my dinner, dust and plaster everywhere. A crowd had started to gather at the top of Stevens Road where there was a very large pub called “The Lord Gough” this had disappeared along with the small cinema and sweet shop which were next door. Opposite was “Eileens” the fish and chip shop, the front had been blown in and Eileen was badly injured and her face was permanently scarred which was very sad as she was only young and quite pretty,
The Doodlebugs came next and they were scary because you heard them and saw them but when the engine cut out they glided in silence so where they landed was in Gods hands.
The East end spirit saw many people through and we had many street parties, how the mums put food on these party tables must have been quite a feat as it was hard enough in the best of times, but they did it. Out would be brought a piano from someone’s house and a good time was had by all.
When the bombing eased up and things got easier my sister came home, it was very strange, I think my mum stopped doing shift work then and we didn’t use the shelter so much.
The Americans finished building the prefabs and moved away, those prefabs were in use for many years after the war.
I suppose if I am honest we kids quite enjoyed a lot of the war as it was like an adventure, and we didn’t see it the way adults did, to see planes fighting in the sky was so exciting and collecting bits of shrapnel and shell casings was like toys to us as we didn’t have a lot in those days..
I have tried to remember the parts that someone may find interesting of a small boys war.
Images in Stratford and New Town
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