Novelist Jessica Kane unveils details of 1943 Bethnal Green air-raid disaster

NOVELIST Jessica Kane is giving a public talk on her research into the events surrounding Britain’s worst wartime civilian disaster in which 173 men, women and children were crushed to death in London’s East End.

She used her research for ‘The Report,’ a novel based on the Bethnal Green air-raid shelter stampede on March 3, 1943, which is being launched at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden next Tuesday.

The stampede on the narrow stairs leading down to the wartime shelter occurred during a false air-raid alert, thought to have been caused by the noise from rocket guns being test-fired half-a-mile away in Victoria Park, according to one theory.

Details of the tragedy were suppressed at the time by wartime censorship to keep up public morale. Only brief reports appeared in the press, without mentioning location or scale of the disaster.

Museum curator David Bownes presents an historical overview at Tuesday’s 6.30pm launch of sheltering on the Underground, as part of the ‘London Under Attack’ exhibition looking at the struggle to keep things running during the Second World War.

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Tickets are �8 (senior citizens �6, students �4), reserved by telephone on 020-7565 7298.

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