The Blitz survivor who hid under a table to escape a landmine which hit his Ilford garden
- Credit: Archant
Smoke billowing around the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral as it stands defiant against an onslaught of bombs is one of the enduring images of the Second World War.
But although the Blitz, which took place in 1940 and 1941, was the worst period of sustained bombing in Britain, it was not the only one.
Ilford itself suffered considerable damage; especially in the war’s latter years.
Hundreds of residents were killed and wounded during bombing campaigns, both by V1s, known as “doodlebugs,” and the deadlier V2s – which were silent and often not visible.
The traumatic time has not been forgotten by Redbridge Central Library’s Information and Heritage Service, which hosted a talk about the bombing on Friday, 70 years after the attacks intensified here in 1944.
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Edward Boreham, 83, who attended with sons Pat, 49, and Jon, 42, knows all too well the devastation the raids brought.
On April 19 ,1941, a landmine went off in the garden of 6 Winding Way, Ilford, where nine-year-old Edward lived with mother Ada, father Ted, twin brother Peter and younger brother Kenny, seven.
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Four of them were hiding under a table in the front room and incredibly emerged unscathed. But Ted was not quite so lucky.
Edward said: “My father went out because he thought it was an incendiary bomb. When he got to the back door it went off.
“He lost his eye and was covered in glass because we had jars and bottles over the door that we were collecting for the war effort. Years later he would scratch and a bit of glass would come out.”
Helping his mother to prop up his father, Edward and his family, dressed in their nightclothes and barefooted, made their way over the “shallow crater” and into adjoining Becontree Avenue, which had also been severely affected.
Approximately a dozen homes were destroyed in the road and in Winding Way. Both are now in the borough of Barking and Dagenham.
Ted survived, but was in hospital for three or four months and could not continue his crane driving job, as “you can’t drive a crane with one eye”.
Sadly, a number of residents did not make it. Of the Coleman family, who lived in Becontree Avenue, only the father survived. His wife and two young boys, aged three and nine, were killed.
Mr Turner, who lived at 2 Winding Way and was at his bus driver job, lost his wife and 15-year-old daughter, but his son survived.
Edward, now a widower, has four other children as well as Jon and Pat – Peter, Michelle, Clare and Chauncey. He left school at the age of 14 and ended up as a stockbroker.
He was a member of the London Stock Exchange and completed his national service with the RAF in Egypt.
Edward said the explosion changed his life “in a way ” – he was not able to attend grammar school.
“I don’t think I was in shock, at that age it is just something that happens. We went to some sort of shelter and then stayed with an aunt in Dagenham before moving there.
“I did not go back there [Winding Way] until later, when I was an adult.”
However, if his family had not hidden in the front room, he may not have lived to tell the tale.
Pat said: “If they had gone into the Anderson shelter in the garden, he wouldn’t be here now. Hiding under the table saved their lives.”