Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bombs in Charlton

A bomb from WW2 was found the other day in Charlton, it was apparently just behind Matalan. You can read about it here.

Also this week another bomb was found in St Pauls Cray (map, it was just sitting in a copse of trees.

That got me thinking about what it would have been like here during the war. I've done some shallow research on it in the past and it is quite interesting, and it explains the nasty state of Charlton Station too.

As best as I can understand the land between Woolwich Road and the river used to be mainly industrial, as such it was a target for bombing by the Germans. Location wise this area also would have suffered because it was near the docks, night bombing was never very accurate and the river would be followed for navigation.

Later still when the V1 flying bombs, Doodlebugs, started coming over the SE of London suffered again. There was a very cunning plan to use German spies who were actually working for us to decrease the accuracy of the things. The spies would radio Germany with reports on where the bombs were coming down and they'd exaggerate saying that they flew over London and hit to the NW of the city. So the Germans reduced the flying time of the bombs, which made them come down early, to the SE of the city. Hello Charlton...

In particular the station was hit by one of those things. Well I believe that it was one of those things, some claim that it was a V2 that did it but most reports have it as a V1. Apparently it blew the station apart damaging the shop that was next to it. It seems that it wasn't until the 1960's that the current monstrosity was built, I wonder what they did in the years in between...

There's a run of newer houses to the south of the station. When I first found out about the bomb hit I wondered if they were replacements for older houses that were damaged in the strike. I don't think that's the case though. Charlton Station used to have goods facilities, a set of sidings to the north of the station. They were taken away in the 60s, leaving the hole for the news homes.

However as you do go walking around the area you will occasionally see a run of older houses and then suddenly in the middle something much newer, I often wonder if that is the real sign of bomb damage from the war.

There's plenty of information out there on the net, some photos too, if you're interested. Here's some places to start:

http://www.virtualtours.co.uk/charlton/tour.html
Some old photos of Charlton, it includes one of the damaged station and another of the Siemens cable factory that was another local bomb victim during the war (a V2 I think).

http://www.kentrail.co.uk/Charlton.htm
More information about Charlton Station than you can shake a stick at. However it does get it's V1s and V2s confused giving a much higher speed to the V1 than it was capable of. The V1 was the noisy slow one that flew like a plane.

3 comments:

Inspector Sands said...

If it wasn't for those pesky Nazis, Harold Gibbons Court on Victoria Way wouldn't exist now - that was a V1 hit as well.

There's a very good reference book, cunning called "History of Charlton" (I think), in the council's history centre at the Royal Arsenal that's got a wealth of stuff like that in.

Anonymous said...

Dear Charlton Average

No 33 Floyd Road was hit by a bomb early in the war. Fortunately the tenants, their daughter, son in law, baby grand-daughter and the dog were safely in the bomb shelter and were dug out of the ruins.

No 33 was on the bend in the lower part of the road.

There was another bombsite halfway down. All the houses that side of the road were demolished and replaced a few years ago. I don't know why they were knocked down and the rest of the road 'spared'

Neither of these bombs were V1 or V2, they were too early in the war.

Charlton Average said...

Thanks for that anonymous, that's really interesting to know. Where did you find all of that out? I'd love to know more.

Inspector Sands, thanks for the book, I'll have to hunt that one done.