Hainault man recalls day his house was bombed

A GRANDFATHER who saw a picture of his wrecked home in last week’s Recorder has spoken of the moment it was flattened by a German rocket, trapping him under a mountain of rubble.

Pete Burgess was just one month old when a V2 rocket landed directly on his home in Uphall Road, Ilford, on the afternoon of February 20, 1945.

It was almost 24 hours before Pete, who was in the front garden in his pram when the explosion rocked the house, was found buried under rubble by a Spitfire pilot.

His mum Ruby, now 89, of Horns Road, Newbury Park, said she “feared the worst” when rescuers could find no sign of life among the rubble of the destroyed house.

She and Pete’s grandmother, sister and brother were able to climb out of the wreckage, but it was only when crying was heard from amongst the rubble that rescuers realised the baby was alive.

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The 65-year-old dad-of-two and grandfather-of-two opened last week’s Recorder to the sight of his destroyed home in a black and white photograph printed to mark Tuesday’s 66th anniversary of the first V2 rocket to land on Ilford.

The bombing campaign claimed 100 lives and injured 435 between October 1944 and March 1945.

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Mr Burgess, of Chestnut Grove, Hainault, said: “For many years I didn’t know how I was found until the Recorder reunited me with the pilot 20 years ago.

“The whole thing affected me deeply as a child and I don’t think I fully recovered until I met him.”

The family were taken in by Barnardo’s, Barkingside, for five years.

Pete’s sister Valerie suffered permanent burns after being scolded by boiling water when the rocket landed on the house.

Mrs Burgess said: “I was in such a state when Peter couldn’t be found. They took us away to the hospital so I couldn’t stay there.

“It’s amazing we went through all that and got out the other side.”

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