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Remembering mums killed in worst civilian wartime disaster

PUBLISHED: 17:56 23 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:12 05 October 2010

A MEMORIAL film show was held on Mothering Sunday to remember the mums and their children who perished in Britain’s worst wartime civilian disaster. Yesterday’s show included the screening of ITV’s It’s A Lovely Day Tomorrow, plus rare wartime archive footage of the East End at the time

A MEMORIAL film show was held on Mothering Sunday to remember the mums and their children who perished in Britain’s worst wartime civilian disaster.

Yesterday’s show included the screening of ITV’s It’s A Lovely Day Tomorrow with a talk from its author Bernard Kops, plus rare wartime archive footage of the East End at the time.

The show raised cash towards a £600,000 appeal for a Stairway to Heaven’ memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens to overhang the entrance to the Underground station where 173 men, women and children were crushed to death during a false air-raid alert in March, 1943.

AIR RAID SHELTER

The station on the Central Line extension under construction wasn’t opened yet when war broke out in 1939 and was being used, instead, as an air-raid shelter.

But panic broke out when rocket guns were being test-fired nearby and crowds rushed for the shelter thinking a German air-raid had started without warning.

Bernard Kops’ film, last broadcast on ITV in the 1970s, was a graphic reminder of the conditions East Enders lived under with air raids, the constant sound of bombs and guns, rationing and food shortages and, of course, the horror of the Bethnal Green Tube disaster.

Sunday’s benefit event organised for the memorial trust by the Jewish East End Celebration Society was at Oxford House community centre off Bethnal Green Road, just a quarter-of-a-mile from the Tube disaster 66 years ago.


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