June 27th 1944 12.07pm Chesterfield Road School, Enfield
Like most schools at the time Chesterfield Road School kept a diary of notices and events. On Monday 19th June only four children turned up for the start of school because an air raid alert was still on. When the all clear sounded at 11.00am the remaining children came in.
On Monday 26th June the school diary noted that official instructions about what children should do during air raids had changed. There is no entry beyond this point. The diary itself was dug up from the rubble of the school.
By noon on Tuesday 27th most of the children from Chesterfield School had already gone home. A new air raid siren sounded and the remaining children at the school dutifully went into the school shelter. Having travelled for 30 minutes at 670km per hour the approaching bomb flew directly over the railway line by the side of Albany Park. One school child was on his way home when he heard the engine throb and saw the flying bomb’s engine cut out…
“When the buzz bomb’s engine stopped it went into a slow nose-down glide and disappeared over the coal yard at the bottom of Standard Road. There seemed to be a longish pause and realising it was a V1, I started to run and as I did so I seemed to be making huge strides. Momentarily it was though an invisible hand had lifted me up as I ran and I stumbled as it set me down. I have absolutely no recollection of the noise of the explosion or the rest of that day.”
The blast wave from the hit caused huge damage, destroying a large portion of the school and flattening the adjoining church hall. Damage was done to over a thousand surrounding houses – from roofs being blown off to smashed windows. One house had its end almost ripped completely away.
Considering the situation it is miraculous that only one teacher, Miss Parnell, and two passing soldiers were killed. But others were hurt. Two other military personnel and eleven civilians were seriously hurt along with twenty others injured. Some survivors were trapped in the collapsed part of the school.
A passing policeman had managed to save the lives of some children. He threw them to the ground and covered them with his own body. The next thing he remembered was that he had been blown across the road with half his uniform torn off, while two or three of the children lay beside him. But he had saved their lives. Those made homeless by the Chesterfield Road bomb were taken to a local rest centre. It took three days to clear up the road to the point it could be opened again. The school was not opened until months afterward and while some children relocated to other schools many others had an extended break from attending school until Chesterfield School re-opened.
Original photo: Enfield Local Studies Libray and Archives.