Deadliest day of Blitz in South Woodford

Today, 75 years ago, saw the heaviest casualties of the Blitz in South Woodford – a parachute mine in the Stanley Road area killed 17 people and injured dozens more.

George Lane, South Woodford, during the Blitz
George Lane, South Woodford, during the Blitz

The day, a Monday, dawned bright and sunny and revealed yet more destruction from the previous night’s raid as shopkeepers in George Lane cleared away shattered glass caused by a high explosive bomb.

Some 10 hours of sunshine lifted the temperature to above 18C, conditions brought thanks to high pressure building in from the west. But the fair weather was in complete contrast to what lay in store as night fell.

At 9.19pm two high explosive bombs fell on 62 and 74 Gordon Road, South Woodford, demolishing four houses. Over the next 15 minutes three similar missiles fell in Broad Walk, Cheyne Avenue and Chelmsford Road, leaving people trapped and bursting a water main.

However, a couple of minutes later, a parachute mine landed on Stanley and Chelmsford Roads, killing 17 and injuring dozens. Some 36 people needed hospital treatment. Further bombs damaged a nursing home in Grove Hill.

The air raid brought the highest number of fatalities in any single incident of the Blitz in Wanstead and Woodford. The extent of the damage to property was considered the first affair of real magnitude that the local Civil Defence services had faced.

Further widespread bombing occurred in the following days.

* The first paramine fell early on the morning of September 21st. A plane carried two mines, one under each wing, and released them simultaneously. Controlled by its parachute, 20 feet in diameter, the mine, containing an explosive charge of one tonne, drifted slowly down. If the first explosion was not followed quickly by another, it was fairly certain that not too far away was an unexploded mine. Discovery, as of all unexploded bombs, was the job of the warden who was working in the blackout.

** The area of damage cased by the blast effect of the paramine could extend 650 yards from the landing point


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