World War Two began in Europe on 1st September 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. Young men from Hackney and all over Britain were called up to join the armed forces.
From September 1940 until May 1941, London and other cities were continuously bombed by enemy aircraft with London being hit every day and night, bar one, for 11 weeks. This period was known as the ‘Blitz’ (From the German word ‘Blitzkrieg’ – lightning war). This heavy and frequent bombing saw one third of London destroyed and nearly 2,000 people were killed or wounded in London’s first night of the Blitz.
On Wednesday 18th September 1940 at 21.00 hours, Hindle House was hit by a high explosive incendiary bomb dropped from an enemy aircraft. The destruction caused to the building was extensive, one side of the flats had collapsed from top to bottom, fires raged, gas was leaking and the rescue services had to abandon the search for missing people until the next morning due to the dangerous conditions.
Sept 18th 1940 bomb damage to Hindle House ©Hackney Archives
With 5 people unaccounted for the rescue continued at 06:00 hours the next morning, 7 people had been killed including 3 generations of one family. The bombing was described as a major incident. On the same evening bombs also fell on Arcola Street and Somerford Grove causing damage to housing and the Simpsons Factory. Hindle House was hit again two days later when an anti-aircraft shell exploded causing damage to a flat. Despite the damage Hindle House was rebuilt, this was probably due to it being a new building.
Blown out windows and doors ©Hackney Archives
In September 1945 the war ended and several families in the local area had lost relatives in the conflict. Many of these relatives were buried overseas or had no grave at all. In order that the families and local community could pay tribute to their loved ones and friends a civic funded war memorial was created in the form of a stone plaque, the plaque was mounted on the external wall of the Hindle House Community Centre facing towards Arcola Street. The stone plaque recorded the names of 24 people who died on active service, on civil defence and those killed by the blitz bombing. 14 soldiers, 2 sailors, a fireman and 7 civilians are listed and underneath their names is the tribute… ‘For Our Tomorrow They Gave Their Today’.
The war memorial plaque mounted externally on the community centre wall shortly after erection