Search

Calming cup of tea after bomb attack in Barking

PUBLISHED: 12:56 10 March 2009 | UPDATED: 09:10 11 August 2010

A CHILD of the Blitz who twice cheated death has recalled the horrific carnage, destruction and hardship she witnessed during World War Two. Winifred Mint, 77, of Goresbrook Road, Dagenham, spoke vividly of the two occasions when luck was on her side. Ami

A CHILD of the Blitz who twice cheated death has recalled the horrific carnage, destruction and hardship she witnessed during World War Two.

Winifred Mint, 77, of Goresbrook Road, Dagenham, spoke vividly of the two occasions when luck was on her side.

Amid the many bombs that rained down on the capital during Hitler's Blitz in 1940 and 1941, one deadly missile landed on a building in London Road that nine-year-old Winifred was passing on a trolley bus with her mother, Una Barrett.

She said: "We went flying. A building behind Woolworths in Barking went flat to the ground.

"There was screaming and we climbed all over the bus."

The sticky mesh that had been attached to the bus window to stop splinters and shards of glass from flying around probably saved her and her mother's life.

Mrs Mint continued: "The Top Deck Fish and Chip shop in Station Parade used to be a café called Pesky's.

"The Air Raid Precaution men took us there for a cup of tea to calm us down.

"There was blood and brick work everywhere. We were in shock.

"We were lucky to be alive. It was a horrible experience."

She does not remember the exact date of either of the two incidents that nearly cost her and her mother's life.

The second time they escaped death came, when one night Winifred's mother decided not to go to the shelter.

That night a bomb landed in their neighbours' bed in the flat above their maisonette, at the end of a banjo at Campsey Gardens.

Mrs Mint said: "All the curtains blew. My mum and I were on the floor.

"Luckily the couple upstairs were not there."

A neighbour bashed the window open and helped them out.

The bomb was later detonated.

When the war had just begun in 1939, and she was evacuated to Maidenhead for a few weeks in what was a precautionary measure.

She was to return home and continue going to Monteagle School, Barking, while her mother worked in factories to support herself and her daughter.

Her husband, Arthur Barrett, had died of pneumonia at the now demolished Oldchurch Hospital in Romford, just a few weeks before Winifred was born in her parents' home in Tilney Road, Dagenham, in January 1932.

Years later, at the age of 11, Winifred was evacuated to Wales for a longer period, while her mother stayed in Dagenham to work at a tin foil factory called Victor Falls near Lodge Avenue in Barking.

After the was in 1946, she started studying tailoring in the East End of London.

Unfortunately, she fell ill and could not continue travelling into London every day.

She worked as a spot welder and in a match factory instead, before marrying husband Alan in 1955.

She had five children - a boy and four girls.

The former Lollipop lady, who worked at Cambell Junior School, lost her mother fourteen years ago.

Her husband died two years ago, but she regards herself lucky for having a large family, with nine grandchildren and a two-month-old great grandchild.

She said: "I have a good family and I still go to the Top Deck Fish and Chip shop with my daughters."

Maybe it is the calming cup of tea she drank there 69 years ago that keeps her wanting to go back.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Barking and Dagenham Post. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Barking and Dagenham Post