Across the street things were worse as a whole row of shops with flats above collapsed and some fires started. Fortunately most of these were unoccupied but at 8 Tottenham Court Road the staff of an amusement arcade were caught in the collapsing building and seven people died. Next door at the Blue Posts Public House, a further four people died. Behind these properties in Hanway Street another person was fatally injured.
On the other side of the junction with Hanway Street two Cypriots were killed, probably at the Lyons Corner House and with two more people killed in the street, the total was 28 people killed or fatally injured.
Picture One (for which I acknowledge the copyright of Getty Images and hope they approve of the use I have put the photos to) show the view looking north up Tottenham Court Road the following morning:
The crater is clearly visible in the foreground; firemen are playing a hose on the ruins to the right in case a fair re-starts. Various wardens and civil defence personnel are to be seen but the rescue effort seems to be over. The building facade on the extreme right of the picture is the YMCA and the road junction just beyond it is Bedford Avenue. The destruction to the (mainly empty) buildings on the west side of the street (to the left) is evident.
For Picture Two the photographer would have walked past the crater about fifty paces and turned around to look back:
We are looking at the west side of the street, the same buildings as on the left side of Picture One; the water jet from the firemen's hose can be seen coming from the left side of this Picture. Again, the civil defence personnel present are seen standing in small groups and the rescue effort is obviously over. Just above the water jet from the hose, on the left side of this picture, you can see some buildings in the distance; this is the site of the modern Centrepoint tower block. Just in front of the buildings you may be able to make out a crowd of onlookers, possibly including people who worked in the shops now destroyed,
In terms of the places I mentioned at the start of this article, the rubble where the firemen are training their hose is Number 8, and the Blue Posts pub is the building mainly still standing just besides the rubble.
For Picture Three the photographer would have walked back past the crater, past the position from which Picture One was taken and about twenty yards further towards the crowd of onlookers we saw in the distance in Picture Two. At the junction with Great Russell Street they would have turned and focused on the Blue Posts Public House across Tottenham Court Road:
The rubble to the right was the amusement arcade; a wrecked vehicle is in the middle of the street. To the left of the building was the junction with Hanway Street and the building visible in the background is where one person was fatally injured (Hanway Works).
Picture Four widens the angle because the photographer has walked across the junction with Great Russell Street (over the photographer's right shoulder):
The left side of the Blue Posts is more clearly visible, as is the smoking rubble to the right (numbers 8-12 Tottenham Court Road) showing why the firemen were still dampening down in the earlier pictures. The corner of the YMCA building is just visible in the top right.
Picture Five widens the view still further because the photographer appears to be standing in the main road now:
This seems to have been taken later in the morning than Pictures Three and Four because the firemen have done their work and no more smoke is coming from the rubble. The wrecked vehicle is revealed to have had at six wheels and hence a truck seems likely. For the first time there is a sense of urgency in the picture as a group of men seem to be hurrying past the wreckage. The building on the extreme left of the shop is the Lyons Corner House.
Picture Six shows the equivalent view in the 1960s:
The extent of the wartime bomb damage is evident with all the pre-1940s buildings have been knocked down as far as the advert for Texaco. On the corner of Hanway Street (now No Entry) the Blue Posts is back in business and the magic shop has replaced the amusement arcade. The temporary walkway in the bottom right hand corner may suggest this was at the time when the old YMCA was being knocked down and the St Giles Hotel we see today was being built.
Picture Seven brings the story up to 2015:
Boots the Chemist now occupies the site of the Blue Posts and amusement arcade; only the buildings further up Hanway Street seem to be pre-1939.
Picture Eight shows an aerial view from 1947 (I acknowledge the copyright of Britain From Above and hope they approve of my use of their photo):
In the middle of the picture on a corner is a white tower: this is the YMCA building and Pictures Four, Five and Six above were taken from directly below the tower as we look at it. Just to the left of the tower, across Tottenham Court Road, we can see the gap where numbers 6-12 would have stood.
Picture Nine shows the YMCA tower again, but this time from the (south) west looking (north) east, and in a pre-1939 view:
The buildings destroyed are visible across the road from the YMCA, closer to the camera. Great Russell Street is just to the right of the tower; following the YMCA block to the left you come to the junction with Bedford Avenue, last see to the right of Picture One.
Picture Ten is the best modern equivalent I can produce, looking north with Centrepoint on the right:
The modern Boots the Chemist (and neighbouring shops) is the brown and cream building at the top of the picture on the left, and across the road are the four linked concrete arms of the building that replaced the YMCA.
To finish, Picture Eleven takes us back to 1940 and a view from the crater:
Michael Osborn was staying at the YMCA: "Late one night, when we were trying to get to sleep on mattresses in the gym in the basement, one of the larger bombs exploded just outside, in Tottenham Court Road. Most of the inside of our building was wrecked, an enormous lump of concrete landing on the bed I would have been sleeping in. I had already decided to join the Royal Navy, and remember feeling intuitively that the way the building rocked must be what it would be like to be in a torpedoed ship; and so it prove two years later, when I was serving in a warship in the Mediterranean, escorting a convoy to Malta."
Pearl Sutton worked in the amusement arcade with her husband: "I was buried forty feet I am told. It apparently was on the [newspaper] placards next morning. Everyone was killed. The manager, his son and several staff including my husband who I had only been married to for seven months. So I was engaged, married and a widow at 21. I understand it was a wall that saved me. I was in a sort of alcove. I remember being asked what religion I was while still being buried – having been thrown on my stomach, I was just able to talk and move my fingers slightly. I was telling someone I felt they were walking over me – however I was asked if I knew what direction I was. I can remember being dug out and there was great difficulty getting my feet out, consequently I’ve had bother ever since and I now wear a leg iron."
This account appeared in the book "Hospitals Under Fire":
“A Tuesday in the Autumn of 1940.
Red. (Raid on.)
Call out to YMCA Great Russell Street junction of Tottenham Court Road. Wilkins. One light party. With Mr Taber. Mr Taber back and requested two more parties. Woodward, three light. E. Haynes five light with Mr Holman. Getting out casualties, with many volunteers from YMCA. Wilkins also working on Blue Post Public House.
Midnight. All parties back. St Pancras RP taking over Blue Post job.
Thus the log-book of the Holborn Rescue Party from eight o’clock to midnight that evening. And this is what Wilkins has to say about it:
“There were eight of us in my lorry. The gas-main was alight in the middle of the road and Jerry was up above. The YMCA building was badly battered and the Blue Post public-house was down and burning.
Stretcher-bearers were busy with the first-aid party on the ground floor of the YMCA, where there was not much to be shifted, but a lot of dead and wounded owing to bomb blast in the road outside. They took me to the top of the building, where there was a man in bed. He was covered up with big slabs of breeze and a muck of dust and debris all over him with a chance of bringing more down if they tried to get him out.
I could hear him calling out ‘Over here ... over here.’ I man-handled that job. The man came out all right and they soon had him on a stretcher.
Working my way down from that floor I ran into a man that was laying in a pool of blood the size of a dining-table. Seeing they had first-aided him – with a tourniquet to stop the bleeding – we take a door and put him across it, and out he goes. The next is a man with two legs broken. We clear him and, an upturned table being handy, he is soon away.
Having finished at the YMCA – I counted more bombs come down while we were on the job – I was called to the Blue Post public-house. There wasn’t much of the place left, and that was burning. Behind it was a club room connected by a cubby-hole through which meals were passed. They knew there was someone still in it. The wardens had got three out by Hanway Street. Then the top floors came down and shut it off. What we had to do was find the cubby-hole and see if we could get through that way.
M’Culloch, a tough old Scot, was with me, sixty-five years if a day, a very big man and a fine worker. Pity was, when we cleared the cubby-hole, it was 2 ft. 6 by 2 only. All I could do to get through. Mac couldn’t follow me.
Seeing the pub was well alight, and only a partitioned wall between it and the club-room, I asked them to clear a way out while I went in to do what I could.
I soon found the woman alive. She was calling out, as loud and as cheerful as could be, from under a pile of rubbish. The job looked bad. The worst were two big piers laying off at an angle and in no way supported at the top, both likely to come down as we cleared the woman. I began straight away to clear her head with my hands, then Freeman got through to help me, and the pair of us worked at both ends.
The more we worked, the better she behaved, calling out all the time and giving me instructions. ‘Come on, Wilkie,’ she’d say, ‘there’s a bit more there.’ You see, she got my name quite quick. At first I was lying on my chest, pushing my arm in and feeling round to find out what was keeping the big stuff off her. Feeling my hand she said: ‘Take some of the dust out of my eyes, Wilkie.’ So I put my hand over her face to make her more comfortable, brushing and lifting buts away.
Pretty soon I knew she was lying all huddled up against the skirting-board and protected by a great flat stone which had come from I don’t know where. It was making an angle against the wall. Another smaller slab was over her head, leaning on the first and the wall. Over all was three to four feet of debris. All in, it was the trickiest job I ever had. The fire was burning hard on the other side of the partition. I was afraid it might come through, but more afraid I was working too fast for safety.
It certainly wasn’t appetizing. We were getting drenched by the hoses, because they were trying to keep the fire off us, and smoke was pouring through all the time.
First we worked at the woman’s head, and so on down towards her feet. She was a slight little thing, so small-made that as she lay there she was more like a child than a married woman. We cleared her head and body first, then managed to release one leg, which came out with no shoe or stocking on. The other was so trapped I couldn’t pull it out.
I said to her, ‘Try and turn yourself over a bit and see what you can do.’ Then, to our great relief, she pulled her own leg free. Again it came right out of her stocking and shoe. And so, quite barefooted, with only one light dress on her, she was at last on her feet, all smiling and still talking, and saying what an escape she’d had. We offered to carry her over the broken stuff, but she would walk. And she did actually walk over all that rubble and glass, which we found bad enough with our army boots on.
They out her on a stretcher seeing she was barefoot, and thinking she might go to pieces at any time. That was the last I saw of her. It was also the last job I did at the Blue Post, though we wre called out to another before the night watch ended. Then I went home, and I’ll tell you a funny thing – though I was all right when I left the post, I could hardly knock at my own door. Talk about going to pieces! I’ll never blame anybody for that. When I got inside there was I, trying to tell the Missus all about it, and crying like a child.”
THE PEOPLE WHO DIED
NICHOLLS, NELLIE FLORENCE, age 42, OF 12A HANWAY STREET. WIFE OF J. NICHOLLS. DIED AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE HOSPITAL.
Nellie Nicholls died at University College Hospital, at the north end of Tottenham Court Road, two days later.
Nellie’s husband, John, was a motor-fitter. In the National Probate Calendar, Nellie’s estate was valued at £470 and her home address given as 12a Hanway Works, Hanway Place.
Thanks to a 1947 advert we can tell the Hanway Works backed on to the Blue Post Public House (http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/images/a/a1/Im194709WW-CMC.jpg
While the CWGC record does not link her to the incident on 24th September I have inferred this based on the close proximity of her home address to a scene of extensive bomb-damage and the lack of alternative bomb incidents in the immediate area.
Tottenham Court Road 6, Blue Posts PH
BAKER, JOHN ALFRED, age 25, OF 77 ARLINGTON ROAD. SON OF DAVID AND AMELIA BAKER, OF 13 CORPORATION BUILDINGS, FARRINGDON ROAD, E.C.1. DIED AT 6 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
Arlington Road is in Camden Town, parallel to the High Street. Number 77 still stands.
COGAN, DORIS MAY, age 24, OF 40 LINDROP STREET, FULHAM. DAUGHTER OF GEORGE PLUMLEY, OF 2 RAVENSWOOD AVENUE, BROMLEY, KENT; WIFE OF CHARLES RICHARD COGAN. DIED AT 6 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
Married Fulham q2 1938. Lindrop Road is just south of Chelsea Harbour, number 40 still stands.
Likely daughter of George Older (sic) Plumley and Kezia Elizabeth Johnson (married September 11th, 1910, at St Mary Magdalene in Bermondsey) – Kezia’s father (Doris’s grandfather) was a publican, giving a possible link to the Blue Posts pub. Kezia died in 1920 aged 34. George (Doris’s father) was a labourer, then a carter.
Doris’s husband, Charles (1915-1977) – may have re-married in 1949 to Bertha Skinner.
HAYES, THOMAS, age 61, OF 117 NEWINGTON BUTTS, LAMBETH. HUSBAND OF ELIZABETH HAYES. DIED AT 6 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
His home address has long been demolished.
TRITTON, WILLIAM, age 49, HUSBAND OF ALICE TRITTON, OF 26 SUTTON LANE, CHISWICK, MIDDLESEX. DIED AT 6 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
Born 1st August 1891 in Chiswick, son of a cart driver. As a child known as Willie (1901 Census). In 1911 Census occupation given as “Engineer worker”. Married Alice Gould in 1915.
One child, William Ernest Tritton (1916-1974), an iron and metal sheet worker in 1942.
Alice (William’s wife) died on 3rd March 1942, estate valued at £260.
Suttons Lane North still exists, uncertain if this is the same as Suttons Lane in CWGC.
Tottenham Court Road 8
BOLAND, RONALD RICHARD, age 14, SON OF ALFRED AND CONSTANCE BOLAND, OF 95 ALBERT STREET. DIED AT 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
Albert Street is in Camden, close to the home of John Alfred Baker who died at the Blue Posts PH next door
From Ronald’s birth record, we know his mother’s maiden name was Hutchi(n)son. Constance Mary Hutchison (b. 3rd July 1904, d. 1973) married Thomas Alfred David Boland (b. 31st March 1897, d. 1961) in 1924. Thomas had been in the Navy from 1914-1923
Alfred Henry Arthur born 1924
Ronald Richard born 1926
Constance Dorothea born 1928
Alan born 1935
Ronald’s older brother, Alfred, died in the battle of Arnhem in 1944, aged 20. He was serving with 7 Platoon, S Company, 1st Parachute Battalion. In Oosterbeek on the western edge of Arnhem he was shot by a sniper and buried in the garden of a house on Utrechtsweg; his body was later re-interred in the CWGC Cemetery:
From 1949 Constance (Ronald’s mother) is listed as living alone.
MOSS, ARTHUR, age 33, OF 52 BROADWICK STREET. DIED AT 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
52 Broadwick Street still standing.
SEILER, JOSEPH SAUL SOLLY, age 38, OF 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD. SON OF MARCUS AND BERTHA SEILER, OF 100 OSBALDESTON ROAD, STAMFORD HILL; HUSBAND OF HELEN SEILER. DIED AT 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
SEILER, HENRY, age 17, OF 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD. SON OF HELEN SEILER, AND OF JOSEPH SAUL SOLLY SEILER. DIED AT 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
Helen Seiler, wife and mother, lived to 1982 (born 1900).
SMITH, THOMAS GEORGE, age 18, OF 63 MYDDLETON STREET, ROSEBERY AVENUE, FINSBURY. SON OF MR. AND MRS. A. E. SMITH. DIED AT 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
SUTTON, EDWARD ERNEST, age 26, OF 144 HARRINGTON ROAD. SON OF MRS. C. SUTTON, OF 4 ST. JOHN'S STREET, MARGATE, KENT; HUSBAND OF PEARL SUTTON. DIED AT 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
Married Pearl L Hamilton in q1 1940 in Lambeth
WOODHOUSE, ROBERT JOHN, age 46, OF 10 ABERDEEN PLACE, ST. MARYLEBONE. SON OF AMY WOODHOUSE. DIED AT 8 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
Great Russell Street YMCA
ADLESTONE, CYRIL, age 21, F.A.P. MEMBER; OF Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET. SON OF DAVID AND SARAH ADLESTONE, OF 20 NEWTON PARK VIEW, LEEDS. DIED AT Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET.
EDWARDS, HENRY CHARLES LEWIS, age 36, OF Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET. SON OF ALICE EDWARDS, OF WHITE HOUSE, BOURNE END BUCKINGHAMSHIRE. DIED AT Y.M.C.A., SOUTH TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
FISHER, JOHN BERNARD, age 17, HOME GUARD; OF Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET. SON OF HERBERT J. AND EMMA C. FISHER, OF BRANDON ROAD, WATTON, NORFOLK. DIED AT Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET.
KEOGH, AGUSTIN WILLIAM, age 49, HUSBAND OF ETHEL KEOGH, OF 26 SEKFORDE STREET, CLERKENWELL. DIED AT Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET.
RICHARDSON, MARCUS WILLIAM, age 30, OF 42 ERPINGHAM ROAD, PUTNEY. DIED AT Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET.
STEWART, PERCY HAMILTON, age 57, OF 44 BAYHAM STREET, W.1. SON OF THOMAS AND SARAH STEWART, OF MARSLAND ROAD, BROOKLANDS, CHESHIRE. DIED AT Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET.
TEMPLE, DAVID EDWARD, age 18, HOME GUARD. SON OF ALFRED AND DOROTHY ROSS TEMPLE, OF 76 TYRONE ROAD, THORPE BAY, ESSEX. INJURED 24 SEPTEMBER 1940, AT Y.M.C.A. HEADQUARTERS, TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD; DIED AT MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL.
Born September 1922. Entered company service 6 May 1940 at Southend as a clerk in the Accident Department. Was a member of the Home Guard. Evacuated to Aldwych from Southend on 01 July 1940. Stayed in the London Central YMCA at Tottenham Court Road London then moved to basement shelter at Aldwych with Mr W J Robinson, Mr F C Schilling and Mr J Ellis Pilgrim. Decided on 24 September 1940 to sleep at the YMCA was injured in air raid hit on the building and died in Middlesex Hospital.
WILLS, NORMAN LEONARD, age 20, OF Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET, HOLBORN. SON OF ALFRED CHRISTOPHER LEONARD AND ALICE EMILY ISABELLA WILLS, OF 16 EAST PARK PARADE, NORTHAMPTON. INJURED 24 SEPTEMBER 1940, AT Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET; DIED AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE HOSPITAL.
WILSON, COLIN CAMPBELL, age 5, OF 4 VASSALL ROAD, STOCKWELL. SON OF COLIN CAMPBELL WILSON AND ISABELLA WILSON, OF 6 BUTTERMERE STREET, GRANGETOWN, SUNDERLAND, CO. DURHAM. DIED AT Y.M.C.A., GREAT RUSSELL STREET.
Tottenham Court Road Fun fair
NORMAN, CECIL ARMSTRONG, age 41, HEAD FIREMAN, LONDON UNIVERSITY FIRE SERVICE; OF 92 REEDWORTH STREET, KENNINGTON. SON OF HELLEN ELIZABETH NORMAN, OF 34 GOLDEN MILLER LANE, POLEGATE, SUSSEX, AND OF THE LATE JOHN BEECROFT NORMAN. DIED AT FUN FAIR, TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
SIMPSON, EDWIN CHARLES, age 50, OF 26 MORNINGTON CRESCENT. SON OF ALEXANDER FORD SIMPSON. DIED AT FUN FAIR, TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
SPINER, IVY WINIFRED, age 26, OF 110 THEOBALD ROAD, HOLBORN. WIFE OF A.C.2 M. SPINER, R.A.F. DIED AT FUN FAIR, TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
Miss Ivy Winifred Baker killed on 24th September 1940 when an enemy bomb struck an amusement arcade at 8 Tottenham Court Road, London where she was working. She was aged 26. Her brother Walter had been killed three months earlier when his submarine Grampus was depth-charged in the Mediterranean. (See also Mrs I. W. Spinner [sic] and Stoker W. E. Baker, RN)
Interred at Margate Cemetery
Tottenham Court Road
IRVING, GEORGE HENRY, age 39, OF 6 FELLBRIGG ROAD, CAMBERWELL. SON OF THE LATE ARTHUR AND ELIZABETH IRVING, OF 41 THURLOW STREET, ST. PANCRAS. INJURED AT TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD; DIED SAME DAY ON WAY TO CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL.
Tottenham Court Road Lyons Corner House
STYLIANOU, ANDRONIKOS, age 28, OF VIZAKIA, NICOSIA DISTRICT, CYPRUS. DIED AT LYONS CORNER HOUSE, TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD.
The Lyons Corner House was at the junction of TCR and Hanway Street, with an entrance on Oxford Street
and this suggests the link between the two Cypriots.
HUSSEIN, SEFFER, age 32, CYPRIOT NATIONAL; OF 8 STEPHEN STREET. INJURED AT OXFORD STREET; DIED SAME DAY AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE HOSPITAL.
Oxford Street 6
McELLIGOTT, JOAN, age 19, OF 6 OXFORD STREET, ST. MARYLEBONE. DAUGHTER OF TIMOTHY MCELLIGOTT, OF CLAHANE, TRALEE, CO. KERRY, IRISH REPUBLIC. INJURED AT 6 OXFORD STREET, DIED SAME DAY ON WAY TO CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL.