The Cost of war

At the outbreak of the Second World War there were plans to evacuate children from Edmonton to safer areas but it wasn’t considered necessary for the children of Enfield and Southgate as these areas were deemed to be ‘safe’. Later in the war it was agreed that children to the east of the Southbury Loop railway line would be eligible for evacuation.

Although much of the present day Borough of Enfield was considered a reasonably safe area there was considerable bomb damage. Even ‘minor bombing’ as described by the ARP Log Book could result in broken windows and injuries from flying glass.

According to the commonwealth War graves Commission there were 389 people killed in the borough. The breakdown for the three areas is:

Edmonton: 162 fatalities, 432 seriously injured, 609 slightly injured

Enfield: 109 fatalities, 271 seriously injured, 419 slightly injured

Southgate 118 fatalities, 267 seriously injured. The number slightly injured isn’t known
As well as the deaths and injuries there was extensive damage to property. This was compounded by the shortage of supplies with which to carry out repairs. Many bomb sites remained untouched for years after the war ended. The ‘Bombie’ in Grove Road New Southgate was one such site that was only redeveloped in 2014 being turned into to a park.

In total 433 houses were destroyed in Edmonton, 347 in Enfield and 256 in Southgate.

EPSON scanner imageThe image on the right shows the aftermath of bombing during the Second World War somewhere in the present day Borough of Enfield. Unfortunately there is nothing on the photos to say exactly where.  It shows men climbing over the wreckage, There doesn’t seem to be any equipment other than their bare hands. Does anyone know where this is? Any ideas would be appreciated.

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Bomb Damage during Second World War

Since we acquired new scanners staff and volunteers at Enfield Local Studies Archive have been digitising old negatives. Some of them we had  already taken prints from but others haven’t been seen since they were taken. Thanks to advances in technology the quality of the images we are creating is much higher than previously.  The most recent photos scanned from the old negatives show the terrible devastation of the bombing during the Second World War. Even those incidents described as ‘minor bombing’ in the ARP log books such as the one in Connop Road on 21st Match 1944 caused a huge crater and destroyed houses as well as causing injury to residents.

On 14th April 1944 bombs fell on Aldermans Hill and Broomfield Avenue. 40 houses and 25 shops with flats above were damaged. 3 people were killed and 1 seriously injured.

The Mapleton Road bomb was a V2 (described in the ARP reports as a ‘long range rocket’. It caused extensive damage to electricity and phone cables. People were trapped in the wreckage of their houses. Search dogs had to be deployed.

The last V2 to fall in the area landed on the sewage farm in Montague Road, Edmonton. One person was killed. Eleven days later the war in Europe was over.

Air Raid Shelters

During the First World War local authorities were unprepared for air raids on civilian targets. Enfield Urban District Council did not provide air raid shelters instead advising people to stay in their homes. Southgate set aside parts of Bowes Road and Winchmore Hill schools as shelters. Edmonton allowed people to shelter in the Town Hall and later in the railway arches on Bridge Road. Some people constructed their own shelters in their back gardens.

With the advent of the Second World War local authorities were much more aware of the danger to the civilian population from air raids.  Preparations began at the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938. Trenches were dug for people caught in the open to shelter in.

LIBRARY GREEN 1939
Digging trenches on the Library Green Enfield 1939
Oakwood School shelters
Oakwood School shelters

People used many existing structures as shelters: the Underground, caves, basements and railway arches. Companies were legally required to provide shelters for their staff. In January 1939 a programme of shelter building began. The open trenches dug at the time of the Munich Crisis were lined and covered over with concrete or steel. The standard varied greatly. Some were dirty, smelly and prone to flooding. One of the better ones was beneath the car park of the Regal cinema in Edmonton.

Surface shelter Forty Hall
Surface shelter Forty Hall

For private shelters there were two main types. The Anderson shelter was like a miniature Nissen hut made of corrugated steel and sunk three feet in to the ground in the back garden and covered in earth. Two and a quarter million Anderson shelters were provided by the government before the blitz. They were free to people earning less than £350 a year. They were prone to flooding and cramped but could withstand anything but a direct hit. By October 1939 Enfield had delivered 4719 Anderson Shelters to local residents.

Anderson shelter
Anderson shelter

For those who didn’t have a garden there was the Morrison shelter. This was a steel framed box which could be used as a table during the day. Although this provided protection from falling rubble and flying glass during the Blitz it was no use against the V1s and V2s later in the war.

Instructions for assembling the Morrison shelter
Instructions for assembling the Morrison shelter

At the outbreak of War it was assumed that a gas attack was almost inevitable. Local authorities had to make provision for dealing with mass casualties. The plan below was intended for a church in Southgate. The centre of the plan shows provision for 66 bodies and there is a designated bay for dealing with contaminated bodies. Fortunately the expected gas attack never happened and although there were deaths not in the numbers anticipated.

Plan
Click on plan to see details

Wartime Weddings

Clothes and food rationing had a big impact on weddings during the Second World War. Wedding dresses were passed round from bride to bride. Many brides made do with wearing their best outfits. If a bride were very lucky or had the right contacts she might be able to acquire some parachute silk to make her dress.

Edna & Michael Thomson 27th August 1940
Edna & Michael Thomson 27th August 1940

Food rationing meant that coupons had to be saved up for months to get enough fruit to make a cake and icing was almost unattainable. Cardboard covers made to look like icing would cover a single layer of fruit cake. Petrol rationing made it difficult for relatives to travel.

Wedding of C.R. Wiseman 21st November 1940 at St. Andrews Church. His father, Ambrose Wiseman is on the left. He became Chairman of the board of directors for the Enfield Gazette after Sir H Bowles passed away.
Wedding of C.R. Wiseman 21st November 1940 at St. Andrews Church. His father, Ambrose Wiseman is on the left. He became Chairman of the board of directors for the Enfield Gazette after Sir H Bowles passed away.
Charlie & peg Ball 1942. She is wearing his suit cut down to make a skirt
Charlie & Peg Ball 1942. She is wearing his suit cut down to make a skirt
Leslie & Ethel Crook 20th September 1939
Leslie & Ethel Crook 20th September 1939

Wedding poster aEnfield Museum is presenting a new exhibition to celebrate the myriad variety of weddings that have taken place in the Borough over the years (including war time ones). It opens on Thursday 2nd April at the Dugdale Centre:

Rationing in the Second World War

Queue in Palmers Green
Queue in Palmers Green

gaz shopping ww2

Rationing was introduced in 1940 and continued until 1954 on some items. Petrol, food and clothing were all rationed. The aim was to try and make the UK more self-sufficient. People were urged to ‘Dig for Victory’ and ‘Make Do and Mend’ to reduce the dependence on imports.

Food rationing started in January 1940 for butter, bacon and sugar. From 1942 this was extended to tea, cooking fat, jam, honey, marmalade, cheese, ham, milk, meat sweets and chocolate. Many foods that weren’t rationed were very scarce. This led to long queues whenever a rumour went round that scarce items were in stock somewhere

Clothes went on ration in 1941 and became more stringent in 1942. The basic ration would have allowed a man to buy an overcoat every seven years, a pair of trousers and a jacket every two years. This became more of a problem as the war went on especially for families with growing children.

Petrol rationing was introduced three weeks after the declaration of war. Each car was allowed between 4 – 6 gallons of standard petrol a month depending on whether they needed their car for work. Motoring for pleasure was frowned upon. Petrol rationing didn’t end until 1950.

Fish Queue, Church Street, Enfield
Fish Queue, Church Street, Enfield
Enfield Town
Enfield Town

Bombing and censorship

The start of the V1 bombing campaign was severe blow to morale. At first the government censored any reference  to the ‘flying bombs’. On16th June Herbert Morrison announced that London was under attach by pilotless planes. The scale of the destruction was hushed up in order to maintain morale and prevent the Germans from knowing how effective the campaign was. There were strict rules about reporting bombing incidents. There was to be no mention of the name of the road until  three months after the incident. Photos of bombed streets had to show an intact building. All identifying signs had to be removed.

Queen Anne's Place showing censor's marks 1944
Queen Anne’s Place showing censor’s marks 1944

Chesterfield Road School was hit by V2 in June 1944. Below is the ARP report:

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.25             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Damage ‘Fly’ Ordnance Road/Chesterfield Road.

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.40             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Damage to school/Chesterfield Road.

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.58             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Further details: – Part of school collapsed (some trapped).

Remarks:        Extensive damage at Bradley Road/Preston Road. Casualties: 3 serious.

 One of the fatalities was a teacher from the school. The Log Book from the school was found in the rubble after the air raid.

Chesterfield Road School
Chesterfield Road School

Chestefield Road School Log Book found in the rubble after the air raid

Carpenter Gardens was another place to be hit by a V2. ARP report:

Date: 7.7.44                            Message Time: 01.09,01.39,02.17Incident Time: 01.05, 01.09,                                           Particulars:     Report ‘Fly’ Highfield Road.

 Big incident. Fire Highfield Road/Carpenter Gardens. 765131. Details to                          follow.

 Many casualties-Some trapped. Mutual assistance in operation. School  damaged and food shops. Rescue 50 reports. Gas main on fire. Rescue operations still proceeding. Homeless accommodated in rest centre.

Remarks:        Killed: 8; Seriously Injured: 10; Slightly injured: 14; Missing: Unknown.

The report makes grim reading.

Wakefield Road, Southgate. Trying to repair the damage caused by a V2
Wakefield Road, Southgate. Trying to repair the damage caused by a V2

V1 & V2 Rockets

Between June 1944 and March 1945 a total of 35 flying bombs fell in the three districts of the present day London Borough of Enfield: seven in Edmonton, twenty two in Enfield and six in Southgate. The first V1 recorded for the area was  on16th June 1944. It crashed near Ferney Hill farm in Hadley Road causing only slight damage to crops and farm buildings. The first V1 to cause serious damage fell in Baker Street. Twelve people were seriously  injured and four others slightly hurt. About four hundred houses were affected by the blast. At first any mention of flying bombs was censored to avoid panic. The government also wanted to prevent the Germans knowing how much damage they were causing. September saw the appearance of Long Range Rockets (V2s) launched from sites in Europe.There was no warning of its approach. Nine fell in Edmonton, eight in Enfield and four in Southgate. The first V2 was a mystery. It is recorded in the ARP reports as ‘missile, type unknown’. Parts were found in Warwick Road and York Road, Southgate. The last V2 to fall in this area was on 27th March 1945. It fell on the sewage farm in Montague Road. It killed one person.

Dunlop Rubber Company 3rd March 1945
Dunlop Rubber Company 3rd March 1945
Cuckoo Hall Lane 10th January 1945
Cuckoo Hall Lane 10th January 1945

flyer

We are looking for people to share their wartime memories. if you have a story to tell please get in touch. Details are on the flyer right.