Wartime in Mitcham, April 1941

Unexploded bombs and wartime casualties

Sue Peggram

Photo:Unexploded bomb in the back garden

Unexploded bomb in the back garden

Contributed by Joan Vertue

Photo:A patriotic success

A patriotic success

Contributed by Joan Vertue

My mother lived at 9 Woodstock Way off Grove Road.

The  unexploded bomb was the last one in a series of six that fell at 10.15pm on Wednesday 16 April - apparently they always came in sixes.Mum said that they heard the air-raid warning and then counted, one, two, three, four, five and then the sixth was when the soil came up over their windows and the house shook but they had no idea that the bomb had fallen in their back garden and not exploded. They thought it had fallen up the road and gone off and what they experienced was the explosion. They were moved out of their house at 4.00 am to a school shelter and then the next night,  18 April, to Eltandia Hall but their sleep was very disturbed and cold. Then the next day they were moved to Eagle House, the home for mentally challenged girls I believe.

The bomb disposal guys were there at least until 12 May which is the day the photographs were taken  The bomb was finally made safe although there was TNT in the garden, but the family had to wait for a survey which was finally granted on Friday 9 May. The problem was that as fast as they tried to get the detonator out by digging around the bomb, the further it went down into the clay soil. Locally they collected £4 for the bomb disposal team which doesn't sound much in today's terms but was probably more than a week's wages in those days. The previous five delayed action bombs fell on flats at Woodstock, Grove Road and Pollards Hill.

War Graves of the Home Guard

By James Clark

In London Road Cemetery in Mitcham, there is a cluster of war graves whose headstones bear the same date: 16 April 1941.

During an air raid on that date, a German landmine dropped onto the former site of the Creameries factory in Commonside East, Mitcham.

Fifteen members of “B” company 57th Surrey (Mitcham) Home Guard and Tower Creameries lost their lives: Frederick Percy Andrews, William Richard Aplin, Charles Albert Branch, James William Thomas Henson, William Jones, Joseph Stanley Kilbee, Charles James Labrum, Harold Francis Langbein, Aubrey Edgar Marriot, Frederick Albert Newstead, Frederick Thomas O’Brien, Walter Joseph Peacey, Richard John Sharman, George Stephen Taverner, and Arthur Frederick White.

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 09/02/2014.
Comments about this page

I lived at 71 Woodstock Way in Mitcham, and remember the war so well. We were machine gunned on the way to school one morning, some woman shoved us all to the ground, each side of the street had a row of large trees which only allowed a small area of sky so as I looked up all I could see was a huge dark plane filling the gap, and so low. It was terrifying. My dad was in the ARP having served in the first war and injured out. We had a shelter in the garden and my dad used to stand there and watch what was going on. One night he decided to stay in the shelter, and he had made a door for it out of solid iron, and that particular night a huge boulder hit the door with such a bang, my dad was lucky but the boulder came from up the road where his best friend died that very night. And the picture of the unexploded bomb was at the other end of our road. We were not as badly hit as other areas in Mitcham.

By Trish Cohen Was Pat Fisher
On 28/05/2014

My dad and his brother lived with his father (my grandfather) at 100 Glenister Park Avenue off of Streatham Vale. The wife and daughter of one of the people killed at The Creameries rented a room in their house. (One of the Home Guard chaps, I believe as dad believed he was in the army). The poor chap's remains were never discovered. I've never known his surname but it will be one of the 15 above. It would have been a straight trip on the 118 bus from grandad's place to the factory

By Martin Armstrong
On 17/12/2015

I was born at St Helier in 1954, and lived with my parents and grandparents Alfred and Alice Moorey at 3 Woodstock Way.They met and married in Weybridge where Alice worked at Bartropps in service before buying in Mitcham. They told  how  in the war they sheltered under the stairs and heard the massive thud of the bomb that didn’t explode three doors up. They never used the shelter out of fear. My pop Alfred worked at Smiths Meters till we all moved to Ewell in 1956. Happy memories of Woodstock Way . I now live in Melbourne Australia.

By John Moorey
On 20/02/2021

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