Bombing incidents

There was only one incident when a house in our area was hit. Early on Monday 18 January 1943 an anti-aircraft shell crashed through the roof of 18 Alexandra Road and exploded in the ground floor scullery wrecking "the lower rear portion of the house". The tenants of the downstairs flat, the Amersons, were slightly injured and spent Monday night in hospital, but the women who lived upstairs was detained with facial, wrist, arm and hip injuries. The unfortunate lady told an Acton Gazette reporter that she had stayed in the house's Morrison table shelter (in a room on the ground floor) during the first raid, and was making her way downstairs on the sounding of the second alarm when "there was a blue flash and something fell on my head". The front of the house was unharmed, and there is now no trace of the damage at the back.

However there were two much more serious incidents close by. On a Saturday night, 20 April 1941, a high explosive bomb "pulverised" numbers 70-74 Greenend Road, creating a "crater big enough to hold a bus", as the Acton Gazette stated in its headline. The incident reports said that a further two houses had been demolished, and a further five houses in Greenend Road and two in Hawkshead Road had been rendered uninhabitable. The Gazette's report follows the typical wartime pattern of trying to maintain morale, admitting there had been fatalities, including a whole family, but not giving numbers. Others had crawled out of the burning wreckage or had been dug out and taken to hospital. A section headed "The next morning" describes workmen making nearby roofs safe, and how "through the shattered windows, you could see housewives with their hair tied in scarves cleaning up the mess. ... Everybody had been up most of the night but they were still cheerfully at work. A Salvation Army mobile canteen was serving cups of tea." There was even an "And finally". Under the heading "rescued" the Gazette reported that "A parrot, a dog and a cat with kittens were rescued unhurt from the debris, and, at the bottom of it all, the wardens found two bicycles quite unharmed by the explosion."

flats.jpgThe worst incident took place on Monday 26 June 1944, when a flying bomb, a V1 or "doodlebug", one of the seven which fell on Acton, hit the corner of Southfield Road, where the road takes a right-angled bend. It hit at lunchtime and demolished a substantial number of houses, as well as damaging others in Saltcoats and Rugby Roads. Because it hit during the daytime there were fewer casualties than there might have been when people were sleeping, but there were certainly a number of fatalities. The Gazette's report mentions only a few poignant details; "one old man, as he sat in the ambulance looking down at the back of his hand covered with blood. A woman with her white hair down put up her arm in a torn sleeve to tidy it as she told a warden "I'll wait just a little, to make sure he's not here." And "the pavement round a tree stripped bare by the blast was covered with green leaves."

The site of the thirteen houses that were destroyed, twenty-six households, is now occupied by three small blocks of flats.