Page 1 of 1

Shelter Deaths

Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:26 pm
by Theotherone
I lived in Bethnal Green for a few years and I knew about the tube stataion disaster there. I now live in Stoke Newington and I was just reading about the Coronation Avenue "incident" were such a large loss of civilian lives common whilst heading for/taking shelter?

Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:36 pm
by Flesh&Blood
During the Blitz a lot of people just stopped going to shelters, mainly those without children etc, the attitude because very fatalistic in a way, with a great deal of black humour. It has been published somewhere about a public house that used to stay open regardless of the raid status, and one such evening , as per usual, it was packed when it was the subject of a direct hit from what is believed to have been a 1000 kg high explosive bomb, no full bodies were recovered, but it was suggested that there was at least a couple of hundred people packed in there.

Bristol had an unusual raid later in the war, where a german plane had been seen circling the city and great altitude, it was pointless sending a fighter because of the time it would take to reach the same altitude the raider would have been back over the channel. However this plane released a single high explosive bomb that hit a main street, in one of the Churches near by has the tramline section that was ripped up and hurled through the air hundreds of feet is still embedded in the green outside the front doors. Loss of life was high in that instance, for only one bomb as no raid warning had been issued.

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:39 am
by Lord Byron
Flesh&Blood wrote:
Bristol had an unusual raid later in the war, where a german plane had been seen circling the city and great altitude, it was pointless sending a fighter because of the time it would take to reach the same altitude the raider would have been back over the channel. However this plane released a single high explosive bomb that hit a main street, in one of the Churches near by has the tramline section that was ripped up and hurled through the air hundreds of feet is still embedded in the green outside the front doors. Loss of life was high in that instance, for only one bomb as no raid warning had been issued.


That would be St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, which I visited only a week ago - I'm not certain the high loss of life is correct, but the tram line story certainly is pretty much correct, and the piece of line can still be seen embedded where it was hurled by the force of the explosion today...

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics ... _Redcliffe

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:23 pm
by Flesh&Blood
'Bristol continued to be hit by small raids during 1942. In August of that year a lone German plane dropped a 500lb bomb on Redcliffe, in the city. The resulting explosion damaged numerous cars. The fuel from the cars spread to nearby buses and the buses caught fire. Forty five people were killed.'

I would call 45 people killed by a single random bomb to be 'high', if 'you' don't, you obviously have little comprehension of what 45 dead people layed out in a row look like.

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:20 pm
by Sasha
Doesn't even take a particularly large bomb...the Kennington one was only reckoned to be a 25kg one. the shelter was just a bad design.

http://www.vauxhallandkennington.org.uk ... ragedy.pdf

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:11 pm
by Theotherone
Around 400 at Keetons Road school http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stor ... 3127.shtml These are horrific and all seem to share an element of poor planning/design...

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:30 pm
by Miss Costello
I'm currently doing a piece on shelter deaths in Hull, there were two large losses of life in street 'surface' shelters.

Some then and now photos.

http://www.wwiireenacting.co.uk/forum/v ... elter+hull

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:27 pm
by Nutcracker
There was an incident at a shelter on Lordship Lane Recreation ground in Tottenham in 1940 when a bomb hit a ventalation shaft, killing at least 42.

http://www.tottenham-today.co.uk/tn/New ... ten%20dead

Like the Bethnal Green tube crush, this was never reported in the press.

Josh

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:37 pm
by Lord Byron
Flesh&Blood wrote:'Bristol continued to be hit by small raids during 1942. In August of that year a lone German plane dropped a 500lb bomb on Redcliffe, in the city. The resulting explosion damaged numerous cars. The fuel from the cars spread to nearby buses and the buses caught fire. Forty five people were killed.'

I would call 45 people killed by a single random bomb to be 'high', if 'you' don't, you obviously have little comprehension of what 45 dead people layed out in a row look like.


Since the bomb that caused the rail to be thrown into position occured Good Friday, April 1941, and the incident you're describing occurred in August the following year, showing it to be a seperate incident, I stand by what I said earlier.

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:42 pm
by Theotherone
Nutcracker wrote:Like the Bethnal Green tube crush, this was never reported in the press.

Josh


According to Wikipedia the BG crush was reported on, as was the enquiry, but the location wasn't given.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethnal_Green_tube_station

I'm begining to wonder what they class as "killed by a wartime bomb" since there are a darn sight more than 68 listed here

http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Middlesex ... ngton.html

Perhaps since many were drowned by the fractured water main or gassed by the fractured gas main they don't count?

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:12 pm
by Theotherone

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:40 am
by Miss Costello
The first mass graves were used in London and Hull and the authorities realised that it had a terrible effect on morale and scrapped plans where possible for further mass graves.

Al Bowlly, one of the most popular singers of the era is buried in a mass grave in London....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Bowlly

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:53 am
by m300572
As well as the big casualty incidents, there were also casualties in family Anderson shelters - just from the scatter of bombs being dropped over residential areas - some were bound to hit shelters (or land near enough to cause casualties from the concussion) One of my aunt's neighbours (she was east of London in the Blitz) lost her husband and two of three children this way.

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:12 am
by Flesh&Blood
Lord Byron wrote:
Flesh&Blood wrote:'Bristol continued to be hit by small raids during 1942. In August of that year a lone German plane dropped a 500lb bomb on Redcliffe, in the city. The resulting explosion damaged numerous cars. The fuel from the cars spread to nearby buses and the buses caught fire. Forty five people were killed.'

I would call 45 people killed by a single random bomb to be 'high', if 'you' don't, you obviously have little comprehension of what 45 dead people layed out in a row look like.


Since the bomb that caused the rail to be thrown into position occured Good Friday, April 1941, and the incident you're describing occurred in August the following year, showing it to be a seperate incident, I stand by what I said earlier.


And I stand that 45 casualties was a serious loss for one bomb which was the initial reason for this comment, high rates of civillain losses, if you are correct then the figures of the good friday raid for that area was 149 dead, and 351 injured, so you would be saying that this is a small loss of life too?

Back to the original poster, Anderson shelters were not a very effective means of protection, but in the harsh reality of the time, it was a lot more time consuming to try and extricate injured,trapped or dead civillians from the ruins of a bomb damaged house. Britain was not prepared for the huge impact of a long and random bombing camaign, and provision had to be made quickly to be seen to be doing something.
The switch from miliraty targets to high populous civilian targets, or targets of industry and logistics for wartime production adjacant to towns/cities came at a very bad juncture for the Government, the propoganda potential for 'we can take it' could only stretch so far, hence the rushed design and hurried construction of, what is best described as, sub standard improvisation.

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:14 pm
by Lord Byron
Flesh&Blood wrote:
And I stand that 45 casualties was a serious loss for one bomb which was the initial reason for this comment, high rates of civillain losses, if you are correct then the figures of the good friday raid for that area was 149 dead, and 351 injured, so you would be saying that this is a small loss of life too?



45 dead for one bomb is high, but it still remains that that event is completely unconnected to the Good Friday bombing in 1941 which I have been referring to.

Considering Bristol was either the 6th or 4th (depending on whether you believe the British or German figures) most heavily bombed city during the war, including 6 major raids between 1941 and 1942 alone (the high point of the Blitz) and many lesser raids up to 1944, with over 3000 houses completely destroyed and a further 90,000 properties damaged, yet only suffered a total attributable loss of life in the region of 1250, 149 lives lost in one of the major raids is remarkably low, and attests to the effectiveness of the warnings and defences put in place at the time.

Re: Shelter Deaths

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:56 pm
by Calendula
Theotherone wrote:I lived in Bethnal Green for a few years and I knew about the tube stataion disaster there.


There's quite a lot of background info here if you are interested in that one:
http://www.stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org/gpage5.html

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:14 pm
by Theotherone
Actually, it's the sheer scale of the deaths in single places of shelter that shocked me - and the fact that they seem to be, for the most part, stumbled upon rather than knowns.

The 173 deaths in the Bethnal Green tube staircase.

The 154 (some sources say 170+) sheltering in the cellar beneath shops in Stoke Newington

The almost 400 (?) in Keetons Road School

The 100 + in Dame Alice Owens School

There must be loads more and yet we never hear of most of them.

I've often visited the memorial to the civilian dead in Abney Park (Stoke Newington cemetary) It's scruffy and unkempt and it always made me feel sad because I always thought a whole street had "gone" that night. But now I feel a bit angry, because these were people sheltering in an un strengthened basement. It's hard to describe.

Re: Shelter Deaths

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:17 pm
by Theotherone
Calendula wrote:
Theotherone wrote:I lived in Bethnal Green for a few years and I knew about the tube stataion disaster there.


There's quite a lot of background info here if you are interested in that one:
http://www.stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org/gpage5.html


Many thanks

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:33 pm
by Nutcracker
As an aside, after the disaster at Bethnal Green, all staircases on the underground network have breaks as opposed to long staircases.

During the war there were only three other major losses of life on the tube, at Balham (1940, 68 dead), Bank (1941, 56 dead) and Bounds Green (1940, between 17 and 19 dead). But overall only 152 civilians were killed by the enemy (as opposed to the crush at Bethanl Green) whilst sheltering on the tube. Along with this a total of 181 London Passenger Transport Board staff were killed whilst on duty.

I highly recommend Christian Wolmar's "The Subterranean Railway" ISBN 978-1-84354-023-6, for its overview of the underground during the Second World War.

Josh

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:49 pm
by Miss Costello
I would disagree with the comments regarding the inefficiency of Anderson shelters. They were, by and large very successful at protecting the residents from the effects of masonry collapse and indeed, with a correctly fitted curtain, blast.

We dug an original to the original spec. at the War and peace show in 2007 and people who had a sit in it were amazed at how soundproof and solid it actually was.

K

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 8:14 pm
by m300572
And what was the first thing you did when coming out of the shelter after a raid? (according the my aunt).














Check to make sure the house was still there!!

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 10:26 pm
by Miss Costello
Then having made sure there were no gas leaks? Brew up!!!
:lol:

Posted: Tue May 05, 2009 10:00 am
by Flesh&Blood
Miss Costello wrote:I would disagree with the comments regarding the inefficiency of Anderson shelters. They were, by and large very successful at protecting the residents from the effects of masonry collapse and indeed, with a correctly fitted curtain, blast.

We dug an original to the original spec. at the War and peace show in 2007 and people who had a sit in it were amazed at how soundproof and solid it actually was.

K


Exactly what I said, a lot easier to house people away from their house,even if it was in the garden, than trying to pull out residents who had tried to take shelter 'under the stairs/kitchen table', and as the level of an aderson shelter is below ground the effects of splinter or shrapnell is lessened than an obove ground shelter. Any type of blast curtain is effective, even an old blanket loosely draped is better than nothing.

As to a very near miss, or a hit, and anderson shelter is not very effective at protection.

Posted: Tue May 05, 2009 8:12 pm
by Miss Costello
But then, nor were the surface shelters....Really interesting shelter escape nr me in the grounds of a house destined for demolition. Am trying to get in before it is pulled down. Basically, the cellar was their shelter and then there is an escape hatch from there to the edge of the garden. Fascinating!
K

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:20 am
by The Methley Archer
Have wandered into a new world!!

A friend of mine further down the street has a 'bomb shelter' under the back garden. Its like a cellar, only under the garden, and accessed directly from the house. Its only about 6' x 6' and 4' high. Its now the kids play room.

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:54 pm
by Miss Costello
Lucky b....... :lol:

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:29 pm
by Fiona Bailey/Moll
I think people at the time were well aware of the risks but how well 'officially' reported these incidents were, I don't know.

My mum was a child in London during the blitz and she still refuses point blank to go on the tube, or in lifts, or basically anywhere without an 'escape route' of some sort. She can't stand feeling trapped inside anywhere (she won't fly, not because of any fear of flying, but because you can't get off the plane whenever you want!).

So we shouldn't downplay the risks and fears and overdo the stiff-upper-lip jokey attitiude that seems to be a major part of WWII stuff - people were terrified and quite rightly. It wasn't all communal sing-songs and swing music and handsome uniforms on the home front.

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:44 pm
by Theotherone
Strangely enough I was sat on a bus a few weeks ago and an old lady sat next to me mentioned the Coronation Street bomb to her companion as we passed the site. She remembered the incident well, and another similar incident, not far away, where everyone somehow survived. She was one of the people involved in that one.