Discussion in 'War Cemeteries & War Memorial Research' started by CL1, Feb 25, 2010.
This last plaque can be found at the junction of Kings road and Park road in Kingston Upon Thames.
Mum worked at the Gram as it was called then making munitions was all she ever told me . Fortunately for her (and me born
in 1954) she lived in Cromwell Rd which was within walking distance . On that fateful day she went home for lunch and that probably saved her life. She lost many of her friends. Apparently they were in the canteen when the siren sounded!
Thanks for newly drawing this thread to my RSS attention by your contribution, John, and what a pity to find this it so undermined by by those merely wanting to competitively tout even worse hits as somehow more deserving of our attention. I also regret to observe your received munitions story doesn't ring true for 3 off-topic circumstantial reasons.
But, getting back to the HMV tragedy, at least 2 of my relatives also happened to work there - my mum's dad as a 10"-disk-press operator for instance - but it was my more distant kinsman who's freakishly-lucky escape may be worth 'recording' here though I should perhaps add that his story was by no means unique given a similar tale having already been told to Auntie's 'WW2 People's War' project back in 2005. The URL my attached copy quotes, of that as its source, is now sadly dead - Ron G may know its fate, having long-since promoted his own memoirs hosted up there, but maybe archive.org have a copy if anyone wants to go digging for it there ?
Anywho, Mr Chesterton's dad was luckily delayed by his tobacco addiction but I seem to recall my relative's daughter telling me that he was similarly delayed by needing to answer an unspecified 'call of nature'. His allocated shelter was B - the one that was ultimately hit - but, as that was already full-to-overflowing by the time he arrived, he simply went over to the under-occupied other shelter A instead. It sounds scarily like the RMS Titanic's infamous lifeboat shortage but the shelter allocation system was clearly not up to snuff for being so poorly balanced - maybe caught out by an unexpected shift combination? But it's an ill wind as they say ...
Another tidbit I heard was that, when hit, shelter B's massively-heavy roof slab had literally become airborne and its supporting walls so extensively broken meanwhile that, when it inevitably crashed back down to earth, it did so like a beetle-crushing boot or fly-swatter !
And, finally for yet another take on this, I've attached a relevant local rag article from 2004.
Not too sure by what you mean by the " I also regret to observe by your perceived munitions story blah blah !"Can you go into more detail as maybe I have the wrong end of the stick here. Perhaps I should have introduced myself to the group. My mother and Grandfather both worked at the "Gram" for many years during and after the war. My mother moving to Hayes to escape the frontline activity in Ramsgate where she witnessed the Dunkirk evacuation. My father who's first job was at Fairey's aviation in the drawing office later joined the Fleet Air Arm and although engaged to be married to my mother was sent off to Australia on the HMS implaccable and didn't return until 1946 . Mum suffered for most of her adult life with a bad back and this it was concluded was due to the many hours of work pressing one foot down on a machine at the Gram which she always told us was making munitions which perhaps I read as 'making bullets' I wish she was still alive to ask her but she passed in 2011 at the age of 88. I have a great photo of her on VE day with all her mates at the Gram. Another small photo shows her in Princes Park ave just off Judge Heath Lane standing outside a demolished house which she said was taken out with a bomb. I cant seem to find any referance to this and would love to find out more. I wonder if it was a V1 which she said she witnessed many times or perhaps just a bomb as both houses on either side are unharmed. Maybe some one can shed some light on this incident?
Sorry, John, no harm meant as I did say "received" (as in told) rather than "perceived" (as in possibly misunderstood).
As it happens, the aforementioned daughter rang me today and I took the opportunity to ask her what her dad actually did at EMI. He, too, turned out to have been a press operator and one of her jobs, as a girl, was to count how many disks he'd pressed each day - low-tech piece work system or what? I then queried munitions work and she also thought he'd done some of that too but I'm still skeptical through only knowing of such volatile work being done elsewhere around Hayes during WW1 (ref. First World War munitions factories in Hayes Middlesex backed up by Ms Kelter's WW2 account now transcribed from my bookshelf and attached). Besides, EMI's site wasn't considered sufficiently remote for munitions safety in WW1 and would have been even less safe nearly 3 decades later after the 1930s building boom. I'm not always right but I do have other relatives who definitely engaged in and were injured by munitions work at the RNCF - facial disfigurement and phalangial loss.
Kelter's book, BTW, cites yet another account of the incident - in which the teller saved his skin by running away !
A couple more links and a downsized photo to finish:
* BBC - WW2 People's War - Doodlebugs in Hayes 1944 (now OK)
* 2002-02-03 - German bombing of Hayes in the war (middx.net)
I suppose it could be possible they were making bullets and casings but without any explosive powder or charge as I agree it does seem unlikely given its location. However I am sure mum said they were making bullets and my older sister confirmed this.
This article on the number of bombs dropped on Hayed seems incorrect. I posted a picture on Facebook (Hayes and Harlington past and present) of my mother standing outside a bombed house in Princes Park lane . The response was astounding ! Over 70 replies and many from people still alive who remember the incident. That night apparently there were 7 bombs dropped known as the Princes Park bombing . The first took out a house in Princes Park circle and killed 3 people . The house my mother was outside was no 23 Princes Park Lane and was badly damaged and had to be demolished . It was later rebuilt . Fortunately the house was empty at the time as one person recalled " we had just moved to Hayes and were offered no 23 or a house in Cromwell rd.both of which were vacant. We chose Cromwell rd" How lucky they were that they made that choice!
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