Bombs on Streatham Hill
By: Bert Barnhurst
Some time in 1943 to the best of my memory, a stick of bombs fell on Mount Earl Gardens estate, none of which exploded. One was at the far end of the estate close to Mount Nod Ambulance Station, and this one was found by a lad who was seen to throw stones at it ‘because it wasn’t going to do anything’.
The Bomb Disposal Squad were duly called before nasty incidents took place; areas were cleared, cordoned off, and fascinated schoolboys gathered. After a considerable lapse of time the device was rendered harmless and some of us asked the Bomb Squad personnel, “Hey Mister can we have the shrapnel?”. As the bomb had not actually blown up there was no shrapnel, but that did not stop us asking.
The action then moved on to the second bomb. This had fallen at the top end of ‘The Banjo’, a kind of cul-de-sac in the middle of the estate. As collecting and swapping shrapnel was one of World War Two pastimes for school boys, everyone was after any pieces that the bomb disposal personnel would let us have. As the bomb disposal team tidied the second site, one lad, Bobbie French, if I recall correctly, asked the question, “Are you going Mister?” “Yes son.” “Is it all right then if I have the other one then?”
Thinking back I wonder if he had given any thought to how he intended to get it home, or what his mother would say when he got there!
Having asked with some surprise “What other one?”, the location of the third unexploded missile came to light! This was at the far top corner of the estate near the backs of some of the houses on Leigham Court Road.
Again as I recall, Bobbie’s honesty was rewarded with the tail-fin of said device once it had been rendered harmless, and he became the envy of the lads of the area.
Fortunately, everyone got home safely to regale their parents and schoolmates with the stories of the day. Among all the anxieties of the times, humour still saw us through those grim days of the war.