51 killed in direct hit on Bank Station

Bomb crater in the middle of the City of London

The enormous crater created when a bomb fell on Bank underground station on the 11th January 1941.

The City of London, the commercial centre at the heart of London continued to be a target, long after the notable raid of 29th December had devastated so much of it. Bank station lies under the intersection of roads in the heart of the City of London, close to the Bank of England. When it was hit by a bomb at a minute to 8pm on the 11th January it was initially thought that 35 people had died, mainly those in the booking hall immediately under the impact of the bomb. As the rescue and recovery work continued it became apparent that the blast had travelled down the escalators and stairs, killing people in its path as well as people on the platforms deep underground. The final death toll was believed to be 51. The damage was so extensive that it was necessary for the Army to build a temporary ‘Bailey bridge’ across the crater.

Mr T Sergeant gave evidence to the subsequent enquiry

I actually escaped obliteration myself by about one minute, since, in company with a Hungarian doctor whom I had met in the’ train on the way up from Sevenoaks, I had just got into the Bank station and down on the Central Line platform before the bomb fell into the booking hall. What happened there I only know of second-hand. We were amongst those caught on the Central Line platform. The explosion was pretty fierce, the lights went out and the air was so thick with dust that torches were of little use. Most of those sleeping at the bottom of the escalator seemed to have been killed outright as well as one or two on the platform.

Just outside a few yards from where we were standing a large number were hurt by falling debris and tiles, or so it appeared in the dark. The main trouble was that in the darkness no one knew what to do, and here is my first comment – that some emergency lighting is required in the stations which cannot be classed as deep.

There appeared to be no first-aid post at all on the Central Line, unless it was wiped out and no-one to take charge. A P.C. did good work in finding the exit to the Northern line and showing some of the people where it was. A porter tried for a long time to get a message through to another station.

The doctor and I organised a few people as best we could to collect the casualties and prevent them being trampled on in the dark. I got hold of some soldiers to help carry some I of them down to the Northern Line lift entrance where the doctor started to work on them.

NB: I have updated this entry following further research, some sources give the number killed at 111 but this may be a reference to all casualties killed or seriously injured.

Sometime after writing this post I was sent the following image by Scott Rinehart:

From a dryawing made from a window in the National Provincial Bank, January 13-18 1941. Signed "RG Mathews, 1948".

From a dryawing made from a window in the National Provincial Bank, January 13-18 1941. Signed “RG Mathews, 1948”.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith Mayes February 18, 2015 at 12:11 pm

I found a copy of the photograph shown, in my late aunt’s possessions. It would have been printed at the time of the incident, when my uncle was a fireman in London. I always wondered exactly what had happened – now I know.

Scott Rinehart March 3, 2014 at 9:18 pm

I own a work by War Artist Richard George Mathews (1870-1955) which depicts the cleanup efforts following the Bank Underground bombing. It was completed in 1948.

Stephen Thorpe January 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

just been researching two gravestones in Tower Hamlets Cemetry where civilians are recorded as having been killed by enemy action on 11.1 41, one is listed as having been killed at Bank, he is (Albert Victor Smart) , the other (George W, Aldridge) was killed on that day but there is no record of where he was killed anywhere on the web, maybe he was killed at Bank and that is why there is discrepancy in the number of total deaths. I am a bit dismayed by the state of some of the gravestones of those civilians who died in WW2, CHILDREN IN THE SCHOOLS SHOULD BE TAUGHT ABOUT THIS HISTORY. (I am a teacher myself but was forced out because of the paperwork which only the younger niave teachers can seem to deal with).

Rob January 26, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I never realised Bank station was so badly damaged but I suppose so much of that part of London was badly hit.

Leave a Comment

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: