Stories: Carole Monk

Granddaughter of Annie Hall and niece of Edna Hall.

I would like to give you a brief account of events of that night.
My Dad (Tom Cuthbert) took my Mum (Joyce) to the cinema that night. They never usually went to the cinema of a weekday but did on this night. If my Mum had not gone to the cinema, she would have been with her Mum and Sister.

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Annie Hall Edna Hall

It was the first time my Nan and Aunt ever went to the Bethnal Green tube. They would take shelter at home in Mansford Street. I believe that Annie, Edna, Olive and Elsie went to the tube together.

Whilst my Mum and Dad were in the cinema, the siren’s sounded. My Dad took my Mum home to her Dad (William) at Mansford Street. My Dad was an ARP messenger and went on his bike to report to HQ in Molem Street near Bishops Way (it was a school at the time). He was told to go and find out what had happened at Bethnal Green Tube.

He arrived to find the terrible tragedy that had occurred and reported back to HQ. He was totally unaware that amongst the victims were his cousin Olive Woolnough and his Aunt Elsie together with Annie and Edna Hall.

My Mum and her Dad (my Grandad) became concerned that Annie and Edna had not returned home and went to look for them, only to be told the horrifying news. My Grandad had to formally identify his wife and daughter at the morgue.

My Dad married my Mum in June 1945 and my Dad continued to serve in the Navy and served in the Far East until the war ended in Japan.

The events of that night never left my Mum. She, her Dad and her brothers had to use those fateful steps to use the tube. What must have gone through their minds when they descended those steps, God only knows.

There are many ironies attached to that fateful night.

  • My Mum had four brothers, Bill, Jim, Albert and Frank. They served in the army, air force and navy. There was always concern that one of them would not return from the war but the victims of the war were Annie and Edna, who both died needlessly.
  • If my Dad had not taken my Mum to the cinema, I would not be here and my two wonderful children would not be here.
  • Olive Woolnough had said she’d had a dream that she went down a tunnel and never came back.
  • Were it not for the rockets being let-off in Victoria Park, many lives would not have been ruined.

I know Remembrance Day is to remember personnel who have served in all wars and, rightly so, but it does upset me that no mention is ever made of the civilians who have been killed and injured.
It is important that the Bethnal Green Tube disaster is not forgotten and that future generations are able to read about it.

My Mum sadly died 11th January 1994. My Dad lives a couple of miles away from me. We both live near Colchester, Essex.


Carole Monk (formerly Cuthbert)