The bomb site

The 1958 house (see earlier post) is built in the former garden of a very large Victorian house, and appears to include some remains of a wartime air-raid shelter within its foundations. While most domestic air-raid shelters were a fairly modest affairs, often made of a few sections of heavy corrugated iron bolted together and partly buried, this shelter seems to have been a substantial brick and concrete structure. The story goes that the big house had been requisitioned during World War 2 (WW2), being quite close to a major airfield of the Royal Air Force and thus handy for billeting military personnel. The shelter was perhaps built for these billeted servicemen or servicewomen.

At least one bomb landed at the big house, I am told.

If I find out more I can update this post, but meanwhile the story prompted me to look at a newish website, where it is possible see a map of the bombs dropped on London during the most intensive period of WW2 bombing, namely the Blitz, which is generally considered to run from October 1940 to June 1941. Sure enough, this shows a bomb having landed somewhere in the road in question during this period (only approximate locations are shown), though one can’t be sure it’s one and the same incident because bombing occurred all through the six years of war, not just during the Blitz.

The website is part of an academic mapping project, which suddenly ‘went viral’  even before the mainstream media picked it up.

One reason for my interest in this subject is that my mother came from Bermondsey, in a flat overlooking Tower Bridge. She and her parents survieved the blitz and other later raids on the area, but were clearly affected by them. Grandad was a fire watcher and when not at work would have taken up his station on the roof of the flats watching out for fires starting at the surrounding warehouses and other buildings, and alerting the fire/civil defence teams accordingly. He was thus in a highly exposed and dangerous position during the height of multiple attacks on the docks and railways all along the Thames  I don’t think his bravery was ever recognised, as it wasn’t for many who served their communities in these various roles in wartime despite the high risk to their own safety. And what was his ultimate reward? An unmarked grave in Nunhead Cemetery, following a council funeral.

We are now attempting to buy the 1958 house.


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