Like many other deep line tube stations Bethnal Green was used as an air raid shelter by many East enders. Although the Blitz had subsided by 1943 (and the V-1 and V-2 attacks were a year into the future) the station was the site of an incident that saw the death of over 170 civilians. At 8:17 pm on 3 March 1943 an air-raid warning sounded, causing an orderly flow of people down into the station’s booking office. Ten minutes later an anti-aircraft battery at Victoria Park a few hundred yards away launched a salvo new anti aircraft rockets. The weapon was secret, and the unfamiliar explosion caused a panic. As the crowd surged forward towards the shelter, a woman, possibly carrying a baby, tripped on the stairs, causing many others to fall. Within a few seconds 300 people were crushed into the tiny stairwell. 173 people were dead at the scene, with one more dying in hospital later; 62 of the dead were children. It is believed that this was the greatest loss of civilian life through any single incident in Britain during WWII
It was not until 50 years after the disaster that a discreet commemorative plaque was erected at the site; survivors want a more permanent memorial. Andrew Rosindell has tabled a Commons motion to support the campaign. The motion has been backed by nine other MPs. Last year George Galloway introduced a similar early day motion which attracted the support of 37 MPs.
Both readers of the Poor Mouth will probably realise I have little time for either Gorgon George or Poltroon Rosindell but credit where credit is due.I wish his EDM had received more support.