My father’s memories of a very close call with a V2
I have just been going through my father’s memories of his near miss at Bawns in Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow on 19 February 1945. I was born well after the war in ’56, but this story has always stuck in my mind. Here it is in his own words, as presented in the life history I got him to write in the mid 1990’s:
When the V2s started we had our share of them in Walthamstow, on 19 February at 2.17 one fell on Bawns. There were 40 people killed and many injured, among them the Managing Director, Mr Green senior, a gentleman highly regarded by everybody, the Chairman and several of the staff. Arthur Hewlett was badly injured and his 14 year old son who had just started work was killed. I was lucky as I was the other side of the firm and escaped without a scratch. The damage was so great it was a job to know where to start, we dare not climb on the wreckage because of so many underneath. Within minutes the heavy rescue units arrived and took charge, those of us who could walk were checked to see if we were alright and then sent home.
After a few days we were sent for to go back to work, the heavy rescue had cleared most of the heaviest masonry away and demolition contractors were taking it away. We had only about a quarter of the staff in owing to so many injured but we got together and started clearing up and then some of the rest who had been slightly injured started coming back.
Dad told us more detail when recounting the story, and I’m sure he would not mind me sharing the commentary I made when writing my life story for my own children:
German unmanned flying bombs (known as the V-1 or doodlebug), and late in the war the supersonic ballistic V2 missile added to the death and destruction. My parents say the latter terrified people as they were used to hearing incoming threats, but being supersonic there was no warning at all with the V2. Dad witnessed this first hand, as he alluded to in his life story, when one fell on the factory in which he was working. He omits the detail in his written account, but I remember him saying he was waiting to talk to someone (his boss if I remember rightly), who was busy with someone else at the time, so he nipped over to the loo in the meantime. He was just sitting comfortably when, with no sensation of noise or blast, the toilet door vanished, and he had a front row seat to hell. He said the area in which he had been waiting, and his boss, were no more.
Thanks for your work on this site, it helps keep the memories alive for those of us whose loved ones went through hell before our own time.