Post memories: “I remember when the bomb fell on Dagenham’s Temple Avenue”
PUBLISHED: 10:07 31 July 2013
When we reported two weeks ago about the remnants of a Second World War bomb being discovered in a street in Dagenham, little did we expect to hear from someone who remembered it falling some 70 years ago.
William McCreary has never moved from the house in Temple Avenue where, when he was six-years-old, it landed in the middle of the road one night.
He recalls: “My mum and dad and three sisters and I had gone down to the shelter in our garden because the air raid siren had gone off. When we came out I remember my dad shouting to the neighbour that a bomb had caught his house but it hadn’t, it had landed in the road.”
It was an incendiary bomb containing phosphorus, designed to start a huge fire and destroy whatever it landed on.
But this bomb failed to ignite and the only damage done was a massive crater in the middle of the road, right outside William’s house.
In the morning, William and his sisters got up and went off to school as usual.
For him, the incident passed as nothing particularly extraordinary in a time when most nights were spent in the air raid shelter.
He was born in 1937 in Stepney Green and within the first few years of his life his house had been bombed twice - first in Stepney and then in Canning Town.
In the early war years the McCreary children were evacuated off to Somerset, but they returned in 1942 to the house in Temple Avenue that his parents had moved into.
He explained: “It was when my dad came back from the Army. It was getting to the point when the Germans were giving up.”
But when the Germans started launching V2 rockets in 1944 - which arrived without warning and left huge trails of dead bodies in their path - that William and his sisters were evacuated once more, this time to their aunt’s in Newport, Wales.
They returned to the family home when the war ended. William’s father died soon afterwards, his sisters married and moved away and his mum also moved out, leaving William, who raised his own family there.
It was when walking back home two weeks ago that he was reminded of his first year living in Temple Avenue after he came across workmen digging up the road who had found an area of metal that smoke was coming off.
“They asked me if I knew what it was and I said, well you should get in touch with the council because something went in there during the war. The next thing I knew, we were being evacuated.”
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