Saturday 3 March 2012

Bethnal Green tube station disaster - a memorial at last

Sixty-nine years after the event, work has finally begun on a permanent memorial to the 173 people who died in one of London’s deadliest single disasters of World War Two.   

On March 3, 1943, the BBC reported a 300 bomber raid on Berlin, and Londoners braced themselves for retaliation.   As sirens sounded, people headed for the shelters.   Then 500 yards from Bethnal Green tube station, a new battery of anti-aircraft rocket launchers opened up.

There was a rush for the steps leading down to the station, and close to the bottom, a woman stumbled.     Others fell over her, and a deadly crush began.    Altogether 173 people were suffocated or crushed to death, including 62 children.    In fact, no bombs fell on the East End of London that night.

Survivors and relatives of victims attended a ceremony to mark the beginning of work on the memorial, which is expected to take 3 months.

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