104 Killed in Kennington Park

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Gowar September 6, 2019 at 7:26 pm

I was born in Lambeth Hospital 6/7/1939 and lived in Hornby House, I understand from my mother that with Dad They had taken me out for a walk in the park when the alarm when off , and the shelter in the Park was Closer than the one at Hornby House so we all when into the Park Shelter
Mum stated that we got a seat in about the centre of the shelter with our backs to the wall and on the other side to was a long bench with groups of people sitting side by side. With everyone talking when a Big Bang happened. This must have been the bomb exploding Mum was trapped by a large lump of timber pushing her head against the wall behind her. Her legs also were trapped by the people opposite us that are were now dead and the wall had been pushed the bench seat forward.
Dad had not been hurt so much and could move. He told mum he was going to take me with him and bring back ASAP. He managed to find a warden who took me and passed me out of the shelter. Some kind person took hold of me and I think took me stopping outside the Horns Pub.
I was told that he took me to his home his wife fed me and fitted me out with cloths for the next 3 days.
Over the next 3 days Dad spent his time looking for me and visiting my mother in St Thomas’s Hospital. Prior to finding me.
If any one remembers the above and the family that took me in please can you get in touch with me. I would love to say thanks .

Tom Gowar

Steve Holland September 4, 2019 at 12:09 am

My father James Holland went into the shelter aged 14 by chance with his parents. He was I believe the ‘man’ recovered from the scene around 5.30 the following morning. Both his parents were killed. For most of his life he would not speak of the incident but eventually he did tell me his final recollection before being buried alive was of his mother throwing herself on top of him. We eventually discovered the final resting place of his parents in Streatham Cemetery in the early 2000’s and conducted a fitting service and memorial. The first time I ever saw my dad cry. He was rescued from the debris by an air raid warden, so all the more poignant that the service was attended by Bill Pertwee, a family friend, who of course played a warden in Dads Army. I attended the opening ceremony of the memorial at Kennington Park but dad was unable to and he passed away in 2003.

Kay Banks July 15, 2019 at 4:59 pm

My grandparents and two of there children’s body’s still remain in the airaid shelter in Kennington Park my grandfather helped to build it and then died in it,with his wife and two children the family
William, Violet, Derek and Sylvia Banks. My father Ronald Banks has just died at age 89 he never got over losing his family members I hope I can scatter some of his ashes at the site in Kennington Park as I made him a promise that I would leave him to rest with his family”
Kay Banks

Jonathan Clarke-Irons May 20, 2019 at 3:07 pm

I have just found this website and agree that the Kennington Park disaster was a tragedy as my cousin John has said in his comments posted in 27 October 2014. I remember as a child (born 1940) the bombing in the area as it made a lasting memory for me and the wonder when gaps appeared among houses and shops that I thought would always be there. I note a mention of the cottage in the park and was told that it had been designed by Prince Albert and built about 1850. I have seen some of Prince Albert’s designs and this could well be true.

josh June 19, 2017 at 1:29 pm

great site for research

john murphy March 6, 2015 at 1:40 pm

I work opposite the park and am very interested to look at the parks history now the northern line works are beginning.

its a shame as my view looks at the old park keepers house which will soon be gone and also a lot of trees have been felled, its such a shame as it ruins the park.



John Clarke-Irons October 27, 2014 at 11:22 pm

WW ll Kennington Park Tragedy 15 October 1940

This evening (27 October 2014) one of my grandchildren (Emily aged 11) asked me if I knew anything about the Kennington Park tragedy as she was aware that I used to live near there as a boy. To support my story I googled the question so that she had something else to refer to should she want to at a later date. My story is not mine but my mothers (Lily Griggs) and it was related to my brothers and myself on a number of occasions but particularly when we visited the park and it was clear that she had a real sense of loss for the people that died and maybe near loss for herself for the events of that evening. The story is a simple one and by no means unique – my mother was out near the park when the air raid siren sounded and she at first wanted to run for her home at 39 Sharted Street but the shelter was closer and she ran for it but couldn’t gain entry because it was full. Desperate to get shelter she ran home which probably only took six or seven minutes but she said that she never thought she would make it because of the bombs that were dropping around her far too close for comfort. She did eventually make it but we often went into the park and as I remember it there is a large area of grass cordoned off and not available for use out of respect for the human remains that lay beneath. She recalled that she had not heard of a disaster as bad as this during the war to affect so many civilians.
As a small boy I often played in and around the many bomb sites in the area and also in the park, to us they were interesting and safe places to be but we were far to young (I was born in 1946) to know of their relevance and history. It is not lost on my granddaughter that she would not be here today had my mother been a victim of the disaster and she knows how very fortunate she and our family are. I am recording this little story simply because over the years it has been told many times and it is time for the new generation to pass it on.
John clarke-irons

Andy Saunders April 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I am writing an article for a magazine about this tragedy and would be pleased to hear urgently from relatives of any casualties! If you are reading this, please get in touch.

Andy Saunders

jimmy butler February 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm

hi my aunt from delaune street kennington recently brought me to see the shelter site in the park …my thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives j butler ..tipperary .ireland 17/02/2012

maureen smith October 13, 2011 at 8:29 am

My Grandmother Matilda Alice Smith was a victim & does not appear on the list, she was my Dad’s mum, as my dad had passed away when the memorial was erected I took my mum to the opening ceremony of the memorial. I have tried to get her name put on the list, we know she was in there as my mum & dad saw her on that night, in fact my parents were going down the same shelter but changed their minds.

Yvonne Finnen November 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

To whom it may concern, I have been informed that 8 members of my family were killed in this tragedy and there names do not appear on this list of casualties. Please can you provide me with more information of where I can obtain more details, sadly key members of my family have now passed on and it is not possible to get any further information from them. I know that it is my families dearest wish to locate their final resting place and it would be nice to put down some flowers as an act of rememberance.

I would be most greateful for any information you could supply, kindest regards
Yvonne Finnen Grand daughter of Frederick Webb

Virginia Tym October 17, 2010 at 10:10 am

Thank you for featuring ‘Kennington’s Forgotten Tragedy’ on your superb web site.

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