WWII rocket attack survivor speaks of the night her Blackheath house was "cut in half" 68 years ago (From News Shopper)
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WWII V-2 rocket attack survivor speaks of the night her Blackheath house was "cut in half" 68 years ago in Sunfields Place
It is nearly 68 years on from a WWII rocket attack that destroyed a Blackheath community and claimed 19 lives. Reporter SARAH TROTTER finds out more about the night of the fateful bombing.
On November 30 1944, a midnight V-2 rocket attack rained down on Sunfields Place - flattening parts of the street and killing 19 people including four children.
Silent and deadly, the short-range Nazi missiles struck leaving the road in flames with houses gutted and many bodies never found.
Joan Crowder remembers the night a rocket split her house in two - leaving her parents dangling out of a hole in the top floor.
The 86-year-old was trapped naked in her bed from the blast which killed her dog Mickey, left her mother with shards of glass in her face and destroyed her family home.
The grandmother-of-twelve, who lives in Oakways, in Eltham, said: "At 1am this rocket fell and cut our house in half.
"My mother and father’s bed was hanging out. My bed was covered in bricks, glass, windowsills.
"I was used to sleeping eau de natural - I was stark naked.
"A heavy rescue man had to get us out. I had to descend resplendent in his coat.
"I didn’t hear it. All I felt was bumping on my bed and that was all the bricks and pieces of the rocket.
"There was a terrible taste in your mouth with the rocket and dust."
Mrs Crowder was just 18 when the missile struck, obliterating her wardrobe and the neighbouring bed belonging to her sister - who was fortunately in Scotland.
She said: "The bed she would have been in was smashed to bits - I don’t think she would have survived. I was very lucky."
Mrs Crowder, whose maiden name was McKechnie, was the blacksmith’s daughter and had been looking forward to a community dance before disaster hit.
She said: "Sunfields Place was absolutely in ruins. Everything you knew wasn’t there. It was a mess of bricks and fire.
"The community was decimated. With so many people killed that was the end of it. People moved away after it.
"We lost everything, we didn’t even have any clothes.
"You were just floating about - you lost your core of existence."
Memorial service for 68th anniversary of rocket attack
As the 68th anniversary of the bombing nears, Toni Hale, who lives in Sunfields Place, is holding a memorial service for the street’s victims.
The 47-year-old says she noticed an unexplained "depression" still haunting the road and, after learning of the attack, decided to organise a service to put those who had died to rest.
The CEO of Mental Health Activity Trust said: "It feels quite depressed.
“There is a feeling of unrest because not all the bodies were recovered. "I thought ‘who actually remembers the civilians who played an important role keeping the country running - so I thought a nice idea would be to allow those people to be remembered and put them to rest."
Mrs Crowder welcomed the idea and hopes members of the separated community might meet again at the service.
An open-air memorial service will be held at Sunfields Place on November 30 at 2pm with a tree planting.
A further service at Sunfields Church, Banchory Road, will take place on December 2. For more information contact Toni Hale at email@example.com
Names of people who died in the V-2 rocket attack at Sunfields Place:
Hilda Rose Lee
Mabel Amelia Irvine
Thomas George Irvine
Irene Ada Bailey
Joyce Ellen Hill
Frederic William Barker
Eva Maud Barker
Molly Kathleen Barker
Frederic William James Butcher
Eileen Emily Joy
Edith Amelia Kirby
James William Alfred Nunn
Alfred John Turner
Ellen Jane Turner