Remembering Your East End
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Health and Welfare Migration Childhood and Streets Women Work Second World War
Key Stages 1 & 2   Featured Responses  
Child arrives in countryside following evacuation from London, 1939.
 Child arrives in countryside  following evacuation from
 London, 1939

 London children prepare for evacuation, 1st September 1939
 London children prepare for  evacuation, 1st September 1939
 click image to enlarge

 The war broke out, and I was  evacuated. I had a little badge  with my name on it, and I had a  little gas mask. We all met  outside the school, and we all got  on this bus. We got on a train at  Liverpool Street and went to  Thetford in Norfolk. They dropped  us all off to different places, until  there was me left, and a little  boy. The little boy went to the  parson, and I went to the  gamekeeper. That was very nice  because that was the first time  I’ve ever tasted partridge or  pheasants.

 Agnes Harvey



 Bomb shelter, South Tenter Street, Stepney, 16th September 1940
 Bomb shelter, South Tenter  Street, Stepney
 16th September 1940
 click image to enlarge

 Bombs were dropping on  Stepney. One terrible night a  land mine dropped in Portland  Street, and took all the houses  down. Ours too. We didn’t have a  thing. We come out of the air raid  shelter and there was nothing,  nothing; only what we stood up  in. They insisted on me going  away up to the midlands to take  the four children.

 Caroline Wheeler


 Devastation following an air raid
 Devastation following an air raid
 click image to enlarge

 The night that it started, it looked  as though the whole of London  was burning. The sky was  absolutely red, and the smoke  was choking you. The silly thing  was that we were standing out in  the street, watching it. Fifteen  years old and you’re thinking it’s  an adventure.

 Lil Murrell










































cobblestones
FACT:   During the Second World War, 3.5 million mothers with babies and teachers with school children were evacuated from cities to places of safety in the countryside
Bethnal Green tube station was used as a shelter. The line was boarded over there. Women worked down there on war work. They were safe from the bombing. I think the warning went, and they opened up with rockets. They reckon people started running in the station, causing a panic. They reckon probably a woman with a child had a bundle of clothing, fell, and then the other people fell on top of her, and they all piled up until there was a hundred and seventy-three people that was killed. The next day the air raid warden asked us to look at the ones they couldn’t identify. There was a pile of bodies, and the police uncovered their faces in case you might recognise people. Out of fifty or sixty people there, there was nothing I could recognise.

Albert Garrett


The Bethnal Green Tube Disaster was terrible. I lost a cousin there with her two children.

Vera Caley


I saw the planes, German planes coming over, one afternoon, black in the sky; the fire falling in the river.

Lily Sheller


I used to go to a church school, St John’s church school on The Isle of Dogs. The priest said on the Sunday, “You can’t stay here another night; they’ve rained everything on us.” It was a ring of fire on the Isle of Dogs. They tried to set the whole line of docks on fire, because the big ships were in there. We climbed in a wood lorry to get off the island, because there was no vehicles, no buses, no cars, nothing. 

Rose Bennett
Bethnal green tube shelter showing arrangements for bunks and accommodation c.1940
Bethnal green tube shelter showing arrangements for bunks and accommodation c.1940
click image to enlarge



Heinkel 111 bombing Surrey Docks and the Isle of Dogs during the Blitz
Heinkel 111 bombing Surrey Docks and the Isle of Dogs during the Blitz
click image to enlarge
FACT:   Between 1939 and 1945 there were 30,000 civilian deaths in London as a result of enemy air raids
I was about seven when I was evacuated. I got off the train near Aylesbury, looked around and thought, this is not for me. I got a train back. I thought that if my parents are going to die, I want to die with them. So I came back, and I was here through all theBlitz.

Marion Davies


The house I was born in, they took it away as rubble. That was the start of the Blitz.

Walter Broom


Marion Davies, aged 10, in Lemon (now Leman) Street E1, 1942
Marion Davies, aged 10, in Lemon (now Leman) Street E1, 1942
click image to enlarge


South Hallsville School, Canning Town, where 400 civilians perished
South Hallsville School, Canning Town, where 400 civilians perished (many of them mothers and children who were waiting to be evacuated) following an air raid on 10th September 1940
click image to enlarge

Bullivan’s were wire rope manufacturers, on the Isle of Dogs. They had a communal shelter. There was a lady used to play the piano there, and people used to take their knitting, and the children would play. They used to have singsongs. My dad used to say that’s one of the first places they’re going to hit, because it was a factory.

I was wandering around Blackheath with a friend when the warning went. We could hear the guns going off in the distance, so we quickened our pace and were running through the Greenwich subway. By this time bombs were dropping, in the distance. We jumped on a number 56 bus and the bus driver said, “I’m not going any further, you can get off.” So we ran to our houses and I jumped headfirst into the air raid shelter. I don’t think I was ever so frightened in all my life. They dropped the bomb on Bullivan’s, which was at the top of our street and the air raid shelter shook. And it wasn’t ‘till the next morning that I found there were dozens of casualties.

My friend, I still see him twice a year, was in the army at the time, but his mum and dad were killed, and his youngest sister, a two year old baby that his mum and dad had adopted, and two aunts and an uncle. And his surviving sister got very badly injured. But she managed to survive and I see her about twice a year. But all the streets around there lost somebody, there was a very big casualty list, and those that weren’t killed on the spot, died in Poplar Hospital over the next two or three days, from their injuries.

I always remember one chap, standing at the top of the street, in a state of shock, because he’d recently been married, and his wife was in the shelter, and he lost his wife. I always remember him standing up the street.

George Thurgar
In Victoria Park during the war there were Italian and German prisoners in camps. They guarded their own camps, and we used to go up to the gate and talk to them. The Italians were allowed out. They used to walk about Bethnal Green in the uniforms they had, to show they were prisoners. They weren’t attacked. I don’t think the Germans were allowed out.

Albert Garrett
Hilda Kennedy returns to the (now rebuilt) Greyhound Pub in Stratford, 63 years after the tragic air raid
Hilda Kennedy returns to the (now rebuilt) Greyhound Pub in Stratford, 63 years after the tragic air raid
click image to enlarge

I was caught in an air raid near the Greyhound pub. Me and my mum went from Angel Lane along West Ham Lane to go to the pictures at the Kinema. Mum got the tickets, and then this man pushed us to the floor, “Get down, quick!”  And, god, crash! Outside, we were the first ones on the scene, and I’ve never seen anything like it. There wasn’t a sound, not one sound. There was loads of bodies lying all round the street. They was all dead. It was raining. I remember it as plain as plain. Me and my mum just stood and looked. I can remember a woman lying there, with a floral dress on. If we’d been in the street a few moments before, that would have been it. I’ll never forget that night. It was so silent.

Hilda Kennedy
There were shelters everywhere. If you were walking along, and an air raid warning went, the ARP men would tell you, “Get in the shelter, the warning’s gone, come on, in the shelter!”  Me and my brother were driving the horse and cart and the warning went. The ARP man stopped us, and said, “Get in the shelter.” I said, “What about the horse?” “Can’t help about the horse,” he said. So me and my brother had to get in the shelter, and leave the horse in the street. The all clear went, and out we come, and the horse was still standing there. I thought if any bombs dropped, poor thing! No, it never took any notice.

Hilda Kennedy


My war effort was to make drills. There was a song – “It’s the girl that makes the thing that makes the thingamajig that’s going to win the war.”

Irene Carter
Despite a heavy air raid in the surrounding area, this family survived in their Anderson shelter
Despite a heavy air raid in the surrounding area,
this family survived in their
Anderson shelter
click image to enlarge

Anderson Shelters were made of tin, and my father put soil on top and grew plants on it. It was the thought of going down there, those big spiders and nearly six inches of water down there. Mind you, your life could be at stake, so you had to do it. I used to sit and knit. When the bombs came down, my dad would say, “Oh, I bet that’s got so and so.”

Doris Nisbet
Teacher and school children take cover during an air raid
Teacher and school children take cover
during an air raid
click image to enlarge


When the sirens came, the teachers had special areas in the school that they thought was safe. You just stood there till the all clear went. It could be about half an hour or more.

Gloria Lacey

Mother and children with their remaining possessions having been bombed out
Mother and children with their remaining possessions having
been bombed out
click image to enlarge

My mother was very worried by the Blitz. My father wasn’t. He would sit up tailoring. We used to have blackout curtains, so the bombers couldn’t see light from below. Mother always seemed to feel very safe sitting across the doorway. That’s where you’d find her in a raid until it was compulsory to go to the shelter.

Marion Davies

FACT:  Between September 1940 and May 1941 during the Blitz 1,400,000 Londoners
were  bombed out of their homes 








 


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