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.

The London Underground station ‘Bank’ 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.

In 2016 (see comments) I was sent the following link to Nick Cooper’s ANALYSIS OF CASUALTY & FATALITY FIGURES, it is well worth checking out the rest of his site and his book London Underground at War.

The Bank of England and Royal Exhange after the raid during the night of 11 January 1941. The bomb exploded in the booking-hall of the Bank Underground Station. The crater, 1,800 sq ft in area, was the largest in London.

The Bank of England and Royal Exhange after the raid during the night of 11 January 1941. The bomb exploded in the booking-hall of the Bank Underground Station. The crater, 1,800 sq ft in area, was the largest in London.

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”.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne Allan September 12, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Sadly, both my grandparents were killed together at the Bank Str Station on 11/1/41 – there names appear on a list compiled by researcher.
copy and paste this link to see if any of you ancestors were there too:-

Julie Adams July 28, 2016 at 8:39 pm

Is there a list of people who died just wonder if my Grandfather was there?

Robin Sanderson April 17, 2016 at 5:29 pm

My grandmother recorde in her diary on 13th January 1941 that her husband, (Major Alex Sanderson DSO MC bar, former OC 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company 1916-19 and in charge of repairs to the the London Underground during the Blitz, aged 60 years old ):
“ We had a heavy air raid on London on Saturday. Alex was called to go into the office as one of the tubes had been hit and many killed. Alex did not get home till 3.30 a.m. on Monday. Such a terrible bomb had fallen through to the underground station and made a huge crater outside the Bank of England. The crater is so big they will have to build a temporary bridge over it to allow traffic to proceed. Poor people were blown on to the electric line and killed. Hundreds of soldiers are working clearing the debris. At one time everything was stopped to see if they could hear any sound of anyone trapped. “

Mark Morley February 27, 2016 at 7:48 pm

My father Ron Morley was taking cover at Liverpool street, the next station north along the central line.

He has since written about his wartime memories as an 11 year old from the east end, along with his 12 year old brother Bill and their Mum and Dad.

An poignant extract reads…..”Whilst it is not possible, nor practical, to try to give a detailed account of those months in the Underground, it is, nevertheless, worth describing in some detail a few of the unusual events that occurred during that period.

The first of these happened late one night when we were asleep when we were suddenly awakened by a loud muffled “boom!”, followed by a rush of air through the tunnel coming from the direction of the City.
Shortly afterward there was a call on the “Tannoy” radio system for men to volunteer to walk through the tunnel in the direction of the Bank station , the next one further down the Central Line, as an incident had occurred which required their urgent assistance.
Dad joined the group of the volunteers, which comprised of most men from those who were sheltering. Those of us who were left behind on the platform watched with some trepidation as they disappeared into the darkness of the tunnel, which had, by that time, had its main power supplies to the rails disconnected, with only the emergency lighting on.
It was some time after, in the early hours; before they returned, looking exhausted and haggard.
Dad told us that they had walked down the line for half a mile or so until they reached the back end of a train, which had stopped half way into the station They then entered the train and walked through the carriages until they reached the front section, which projected into the platform, where they were then greeted with a scene of chaos and devastation.
Most of the few people in the train were either dead or seriously wounded, and as they made their way to the platform they were met with a similar, but worse, situation.
It transpired that a bomb had fallen very close to the entry to the station concourse, and the effect of this had been to transfer much of the massive blast down the escalator shafts and directly into the platform areas where, sadly, it caused a considerable number of casualties among the people sheltering there.

Dad told us later that, as the first people to arrive on the scene, it was only possible for them to carry out limited assistance, such as stretcher bearing to help the medical people as they gradually arrived on the scene, or to offer comfort to the wounded. Dad was obviously badly shaken. He also told us that the strangest thing about the incident was that there was little signs of physical damage to either the building or to the persons killed or wounded, due, no doubt, to the fact that it was due to blast alone.”

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.

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