During my research, reading through all the newspaper clippings in the archives I learned information from different newspapers on the incident at Bethnal Green on 3rd March, 1943. I got background information from different pieces of newspaper about what could have happened that night. All these different newspaper clippings gave me a bigger insight into what happened that night and I began to piece together the events of the disaster. I came to certain conclusions and pieced together different parts to come to some sort of conclusion about what happened, why it happened, what implications there were and why people panicked so much. Why did the accident take place in the first place and could it have been prevented? I linked all this research with the research from the Z battery military unit which helped me come up with a conclusion about why this fatal disaster happened that night. I’m going to use all of this information to re-create and devise a performance with my group.
The government kept this disaster a secret and it wasn’t revealed until many years later what actually happened that night. They were hiding the truth.
Woman survived with child from the shelter disaster tragedy on March 3rd, 1943
Protective mothers crouched over their children trying to save them. In this event, they died themselves but the children survived. The children were carried out and lifted away from the tragedy. They survived the disaster and grew up.
Relatives take up their own inquiry into why this disaster happened because they weren’t completely satisfied with the government’s response and they wanted to find out more.
A woman with her baby fell on the stairs and people fell over on top of her. The steps were very narrow. There was no handrail and there was only one, small, dim light. The stairs were wet and slippery because it was raining. This contributed to the disaster that night where 178 people – children and adults – were killed.
People died even though there was no bomb from the enemy that night. They got crushed and suffocated on the entrance to the stairs. A contributory factor to that was people panicking and the fact that there were 800 people on the stairs that night. Two bus loads of people were dropped off to take safety within the shelter that night. Unbeknown to the public the Z Battery military in Victoria Park were testing new rockets. These new rockets sounded very similar to bombs that the enemy would drop. They weren’t bombs but people assumed that they were because they sounded so similar. On that fatal night, people shouted “bombs, bombs the bombs are coming!” and then people went into panic mode.
One of many typical shelters they used during WWII around the Bethnal Green area
The inside of an air raid shelter
The tube entrance air raid shelter at Bethnal Green where on March 3rd, 1943 the disaster happened. 800 people tried to enter into the entrance for safety and the consequence of this was 178 people were crushed and died because of the bad conditions of the shelter
A chapel in the shelter of Bethnal Green station in one of the tunnels.
These are workmen putting handrails on the stairs after the disaster had happened.
The underground tunnels which connected different parts of the shelter in Bethnal Green
Approach Road – not far from Bethnal Green station next to the London Chest Hospital.
Along Bethnal Green Road West. A scene in May 1941 after the street was bombed showing the aftermath of bomb damage.
A picture of a flat from a converted house in Cyprus Street which is along the road from Bethnal Green. The tenant of the flat is going through his belongings looking for important things which survived.
A letter stating that a person called William Allen, aged 19, in Whitman House which is the block flats in the next picture. There was a party going on in the flats and a bomb hit while William was upstairs after leaving the party.
Photos of Bethnal Green disaster research list. Chanel Falzon u 132 3625
# Air raid shelters Bethnal green gardens typical t
rench shelter, L.C.1407
# MH shelter in Bethnal green gardens, L.C.1396-
interior of trench shelter in Bethnal green
gardens showing bunks and lighting arrangement.
# Tube shelter- Bethnal Green Tube shelter showin
g typical bunks and bedding, L.C.1404
# Entrance to Tube shelter, silence of war- time –
disaster in which- 173 persons lost their
lives on March- 3- 1943, L.C.1404
# improvised hall with stage in Tube shelter- L.C 1
# Tube shelter showing arrangement of banks- L.C
# Workmen fixing handrails in Tube shelter. Entra
nts following tragic incident- L.C 1397
# Approach road bishop’s way corner results of bl
asts from hit on chest Hospital April. 1920
# Bethnal Green Road, looking west, singing after
raid of May-10 11 1941 – L H. And 92 1 2
# Cypress Street (flat. 7) interior of wrecked ro
om from occupier’s name in the treasures
(House in Cypress Street) , LH 03/24
# Whitman house with letter a century of the East
end page – 77 – L.C… 4433
Bethnal Green Introduction – this link goes to an introduction to research on the incident which happened on 3rd March 1943 where Britain suffered its worst civilian loss of life.
Bethnal Green Book extract – this link goes to information from a book on the disaster from the archives in Bancroft Road
Bethnal Green Photos – this link goes to photographs from the archives in Bancroft Road. The photograps are stills from the film made about the disaster
Report on an inquiry into the accident at Bethnal Green tube station shelter on the 3rd March, 1943 – this link goes to the formal report from the Bethnal Green disaster inquiry.
Bethnal green disaster Monday portfolio research u 1323625
Video 1 part one, BBC cheap disaster 1943. 1- 3
#London’s biggest disaster.
# Indescribable what happened.
#Bethnal Green suffered due in the war. The lafwafi
# Searchlights appeared as a warning to go to shelters.
# Rockets went across the park.
# Locals came from different parts of Bethnal Gr
een after a night out at the cinema, pubs,
dance halls, playing cards, community halls.
# Everyone just panicked and leap forward crying
out there are bombs.
# Bodies fell and piled up on top of one another on
# could not pull out people from the bottom only fr
om the top.
# Date the bodies out on the floor- young children,
babies and adults.
#The bodies were laid out alongside the pub the sal
mon and ball a young girl of 11 years old
that survived remember seeing the bodies lying on t
he floor with their gap hanging out of
# The police came stopped the traffic by creatin
g a human train of adults and teenagers
from the junction of Bethnal Green Road to stop all
the traffic on the buses.
# everyone knew the sounds of the sirens, but once
that said to go to the shelter, this
sounds that the bombs made, and the all clear sound
for them to come out of the shelter.
# People found a way to continue to leave through t
he disaster they had other community
spirit that helped them get through.
# The East End people would carry on no matter what
example; if a shop to be bombs and
there was no shop left they would still continue tr
ading on the street on top of the rubble of
the shop they used to say, we mend and do and conti
# Bethnal Green disaster Monday portfolio research.
Video 2 part 2
# So close to everyone.
# sleeping in Bethnal green tunnel shelter in bunk
# Canteen for people in the tunnel they used to b
e able to buy snacks and see during the
air raids, which usually lasted most of the night.
# Church. They had a chapel in Bethnal Green stat
ion so people can prey on worship.
# They had regular lights in the middle of the tunn
el. So there it was in pitch black through
people could sleep and rest, but it had a light kin
d of nightlight affect.
# After the air raid usually the next day, things
got back to normal people went on with
their everyday lives.
# The headlines bombs hit, which isn’t true. There
were no bombs that night, just testing
guns in Vicky Park.
# Magistrates decided through the courts that pan
ic, played a part with the deaths of the
# We ports said there was bad design for the tube
# took in over 60 years to gather the evidence tog
ether to what happened that day on
March 3, 1943.
# New guns were being tried out on the night of the
disaster. These rockets was launched by
there is said band unit which was the home guard mi
# Some think shooting up into the skylight firework
s they were using anti-rocket aircrafts
# Z battery missiles 15 or 16. Approximately 128
going at the same time.
# All the people were petrified because of the no
ise and the sound of the rockets.
# Bethnal green disaster.
Video 3, part 3.
# Rockets were tested out visually it was like a fi
reworks display. But there was a
tremendous noise very similar to a bomb coming down
before it explodes.
# Z ed batteries was filled at Victoria Park. Tha
t night on March deferred 1943.
# Rockets caused a lot of damage.
# They fired new rockets that swapped control contr
ibuted to the panic of the people as the
people wasn’t notified that this test of rockets wa
s going to take place.
# One person was told that that was going to be a
test firing the young man was on duty at
the fire Morgan, near Victoria Park and he was noti
fied of this because he was on fire duty
# There would be a battle of fire together that nig
ht and the new rockets was going up.
# , But the effects of the rockets would contribu
te to the Bethnal green disaster.
# Battle veterans found it hard to believe there wa
s no noticed to inform the public that the
rockets were to be fired. That night on March 3, 19
# Tremendous noise similar to bombs that would co
me down but there was no aircraft
bomb around that night, so the people believed the
noise they heard was a bomb about to
come down upon them.
# There was no air raids ball around. That night,
no aircraft in the sky no-hit letters army,
# The people of Bethnal Green and around the surro
unding areas should have been notified
by the military that the testing of the Z battery w
as going to happen then may be the
disaster of Bethnal Green on. 3 of March 1943. That
night would not of happened and that
there of hundred and 73 men, women and children wou
ld of not happened, they would still
be alive today.