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Bombing in Norfolk Square

Signs of renovation

I was aware of the WWII bombing of Norfolk Square long before I acquired the 1940s photograph showing the bomb damage. If you examine the buildings on the south-west side, adjacent to Cross Street, it is easy to see the difference between the original detail and newer, probably 1960s renovation. The beautiful curved balconies of Norfolk Square stop short of Cross Street; furthermore the cast iron railings are also missing.

Apparent inconsistencies

The rebuilding was carried out with some effort to make the newer buildings blend in, with some success. At a glance the differences are not obvious, only under close examination do the inconsistencies become apparent.  Finally if there is any doubt, examination of Cross Street is a give-a-way; no attempt was made to hide the brickwork, which is in stark contrast with the surrounding stucco.

Bomb victims

Having driven past the buildings on my way to work for the past fourteen years, I often wondered when the bombing occurred, and how the people were affected.  I have not been able to establish the date, however it appears that one Jewish family were victims of the bombing.

Obliging workmen

After acquiring the 1940’s photo, I thought it would be great to get the same shot some seventy years later. It was clear to me that the original had been taken from high up on a building on the east side, looking north-west. In 2013, when passing on my way to work, I noticed that scaffolding had been erected around the building in question. It was some days later that I saw a group of painters arrive around 8 am, so I made a point of taking my camera the following day. The painters were very obliging, and with the owners permission I was given the go-ahead to climb the ladder.  Not being very good at heights, grasping the ladder with a grip of steel, and not looking down, I climbed to the top and took the 2013 photo.

Norfolk Square c. 1940
From the private collection of Peter Groves
The same location in 2013
Photo by Peter Groves

Comments about this page

  • The damage to Norfolk Square occurred just after midnight on April 09th 1941. The incident caused an outcry due to some of the victims having been left undiscovered for some 56 hours. 43 year old Mrs Violet Wallis, of number 8, was still clutching her dead three year old daughter, Audrey, when she was finally discovered. Her other children, Rose aged 11 and Robert aged 13 were also killed in the attack. At number 9, two members of the Calcraft family and three members of the Cassler family were also killed. Regards, Andy

    By Andy Grant (03/12/2014)
  • Suggest anyone visiting this page to have a look at White Street pages before, and after, a parachute mine took out 6 houses. Then have a look on Google maps how this bomb site now looks: no attempt was made to make the new houses fit in.

    By Ken Ross (03/12/2014)

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