Stories: Alf Morris

Children used to line up outside the Tube entrance from about 4.30pm until 6.30pm when it opened. Then we would go down the escalators to the platform and put a blanket on the place where we were going to sleep that night.

On the day disaster struck the radio went off at about 8pm. My mother and father told my aunt, who was living with us in Old Ford Road, to go to the shelter. My aunt and I were walking along Old Ford Road when the searchlight came on, it went on to an aircraft and that is when anti-aircraft guns started firing. The rocket guns in Victoria Park also fired.

I was being carried down the staircase and the noise of the new rocket guns could be heard. Someone shouted "there is a bomb coming" and people started to push forward. I was about the third stair from the bottom but could not move as my legs were trapped. An air raid warden called Mrs. Chumley pulled me out of the crush by my hair and then put her arms under mine and pulled me out.

My aunt had to leave her coat and shoes in the crush to get out. She was bruised black and blue. We were then told to go to the bottom of the stairs and taken to the duty warden and told to say nothing.

People were falling so fast that they completely blocked the entrance and nobody was able to get up or down. The first inkling that something had happened came at about 9pm when fire officers and wardens walked though the tunnel and people began to ask what the trouble was. They didn't say anything as they did not want us to panic.

The following morning we heard that so many of our friends and relatives had been killed and people were crying at the school gates and around the Church and park looking for loved ones.Sadly, I remember a dozen or more funerals a week in Bethnal Green following that terrible night.

If the searchlight had not come on in Bethnal Green the people would have walked down to the shelter just like every other night. The worst aspect of the incident was that there were no bombs dropped that night.

I know that I owe it to the people who died to make sure this permanent memorial is erected. Something should have been put up years ago."