Druid Street Arch Bombing

Lest we forget
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Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby roymal » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:53 pm

Druid Street Arch.jpg
Druid Street Arch

If anyone can shed more light on the History of this, he would be grateful thanks.
Druid Street Plaque.jpg
Druid Street Plaque

Born in Bermondsey. Evacuated during the war to Frimley near Farmborough Surrey.
Currently living in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, Canada.

The attached plaque that I understand is mounted on the wall close to Abbey Street where I was born, commemorates the arch where my father mother, and sister were killed on October 25 1940.

Any more information would be much appreciated thanks.


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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby roymal » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:06 pm

Hello Bermondseyboy,

I realize that most of your Forum Members are much younger than me, but I do have an interesting story that is connected with Bermondsey.

As you can tell from my profile, my wife and I emigrated to Canada in 1957, and are now living in Dartmouth Nova Scotia.

One night about 25 years ago, on my way home on the ferry from work in Halifax, a woman sat next to me who had a distinctive cockney accent.
I started chatting with her and mentioned that I was born in Bermondsey,she said that was where she was born. Then I said that I lived on Abbey Street, blow me down if she didn't say that was where she lived.
I thought that is where the coincidence would end but no, just imagine my surprise when I said that our family lived in the slums of Monarch Buildings. That was also where she lived. I then said we lived in no. 2, and she used to lived directly above us in no. 4.

Well, I bumped into her again the following year in a store near us and she had just returned from a visit to her mother who was still alive and her mother said how she always remembered the Wilcox family, especially those little perishers who made so much noise on the landings.

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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby kiwi » Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:28 am

The air raid shelter that took a direct hit in 1940s disaster. Druid Street, Southwark, London,
Bermondsey suffered the largest number of bombs in London during the blitzes of the Second World War. This was because of the areas proximity to the Thames and main railway interchanges. Here at the Druid Street Arches was one of the many arches along the rail track which were used as shelter during air raids.

The area under the arch was used as a social club and billiards hall during the day. At night, it was transformed into a sanctuary from the bombing. The ominous sound of the sirens were the cue for local people to congregate as quickly as possible in a bid for safety.

On the night of 25 October 1940, hundreds of people were sheltering like this at Druids Arch during an air raid.

It received a direct hit. Many were killed instantly and many died later of their injuries. The final death toll was 87. Druids Arch marks the site of the worst disaster in Southwark. It is remembered today by those who survived the Second War World and by their families.

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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby Jenner » Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:03 pm

My mother and grandfather were in that arch, mum being a little girl (10) at the time. They lived in the Neckinger, as I did as a child in the 50s. My grandad was a railwayman and fire warden during the war, then later was an ack ack gunner in Southwark Park. God knows when he slept. Mum remembered it very clearly. She was blown under a billiard table (which saved her as I believe much of the arch collapsed) and was dug out later by her father among others. There's an interesting aspect to the story. I knew my grandad had been blown up in one of the arches during the war, but he only mentioned it in passing (to explain his deafness on one side) and he died back in the 70's. My mother said nothing about it until ten years ago when she revealed the story. They were made of different stuff to us post war kids - I don't think I could have sat on the story for 50 years!

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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby JoanneH » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:29 pm

Jenner, It is highly likely your family knew mine. They too were in the shelter that night and both my grandfather and great-grandfather were railwaymen, living on the Neckinger Estate. Unfortunately all the family sheltering there were killed - 5 in total. My gran and dad had been sent to a tiny village in Leicestershire as a precaution, as my dad was only a few months old. I know this is a long shot but I have never seen any pictures of those killed (not even my granddad), and wondered by any chance if your family have any recollections of the Dennis family. My gran died in the 80's and never even disclosed that there was a family member who was in hospital that night and therefore survived. She never really spoke of the events surrounding that night. I did manage to trace my dad's uncle to Glasgow but it always upset him to recall that time. My dad has also passed now away. Kind regards

London Remembers
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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby London Remembers » Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:51 am

Hi, We've been researching the names on the plaque at the site of this bomb and in particular the Wilcox family, so we are interested in this thread. Roymal - please write to us at Info@LondonRemembers.com so we can discuss this further. Thanks

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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby Bricketts » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:14 am


I have recently joined the Forum as many of my ancestors were born around Bermondsey and lived there for a number of years. Sadly several of them were killed whilst sheltering in the Druid Street arch when it was hit by a bomb. They were my great grandparents William and Hannah Ricketts as well as my great aunt Daisy Morgan and her two children George and Daisy Morgan. My great grandparents at the time lived at 40 Horney Lane, Spa Road whilst my great aunt lived at 46 Horney Lane with both her children.
I visited the site of the tragedy last Friday 27/09/19 and found it very sobering to think of what happened on that fateful night. If anybody has any knowledge of my ancestors I would be pleased to know about it.

Bill Ricketts

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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby kiwi » Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:45 am

Hi Bricketts (Bill),welcome to the site.
Sorry to hear your sad story regarding the Druid Street bombing. You may know or have this information but just in case.
Kiwi (Ray).

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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby SueItzinger » Thu Sep 17, 2020 6:35 pm

Dear All,
My name is Sue Itzinger. My cousin Gladys Victoria Itzinger and her grandmother, Emma Bridger died that night.
They lived at 142, Abbey Street. Gladys is buried in a common grave in Nunhead Cemetery. There are 25 other people in the same grave as Gladys. Common graves are not allowed headstones, so I am hoping after Covid that if enough families can be contacted we could all ask for or pay for a plaque to be put on the untended grave. It will be 80 years in October since the bomb fell on the shelter and killed so many people.

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Re: Druid Street Arch Bombing

Postby dealdickie » Fri May 14, 2021 6:09 pm

My father John Sales was a 17 year old on stretcher parties at the time, he was the first one back in there after the bomb. Needless to say the scene was beyond horrible. After that they took him off stretcher parties. When he was 18 he volunteered for the RAF ( rather than be conscripted into the army) he did his basic training in South Africa and did most of his active deployment out of Foggia in southern Italy as a bomb aimer / navigator on a pathfinder squadron. Gave a lot of payback to the Germans and their allies.

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