Fred Clark Catford
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Fred Clark

BIG BEN INCIDENT NUMBER 588

On the 23rd of January 1945 at 08.37 A.mCrutchley Road Catford
It is eight thirty on a very cold morning in Jan 1945, my bother and I were getting ourselves ready for school and were
sitting in the kitchen of our council house in Crutchley road, I would be aged 6 yrs., my brother Gordon was aged 11 yrs. I
remember that it was extremely cold and there was the occasional snow flurry, we were both eating our breakfast before
venturing out to make our respective ways to school.
When it happened I do not remember any sound, what I do remember is what I can only describe as a sucking sensation
that seemed to take your breath, then the walls of our small kitchen seemed to contract and expand, What had happened
was that a v2 rocket had exploded nearby, we were later to discover that it had landed in Hither Green Cemetary which
was just over the back from where we lived. I remember that our kitchen had a shelf on one of the walls, we were both
sitting under this shelf at the time of the blast, on this shelf was stood a rather heavy old clock amongst other kitchen
implements, when the blast occured the shelf snapped in the middle but luckliy enough for us the shelf did not collapse
completely and the clock only slid to the middle, remaining at a precarious angle. I remember rushing to the back door after
the initial shock, to see what was going on, there was another row of houses between us and the cemetary,over these in the
distance there was a huge pall of smoke mushrooming at the top, other than that there appeared to be lots of clods of clay
everywhere including our kitchen walls.
There are some gaps in my memory because the next thing that I recall was that we were in the road adjacent to the
cemetary looking for my mother I think either my older brother Frank or my sister Eileen had taken us to this road called
Verdant   Lane.

My mother Ellen Clark had been waiting for a bus in Verdant Lane when the blast happened, it had apparently lifted her off
her feet and thrown her many yards further along the road, she was bruised and dazed with a few minor cuts, other than
that she was unhurt, we turned to make our way home.
At this point I cannot remember how many of us there were, but I can and always will remember the scene that was before
me. The road was strewn with debri,big clumps of soil, glass, roof tiles, but most horrific of all body parts from the
cemetary, these had to be stepped over to get ourslves back home. My impression was that everything seemed to have
fallen silent and ther seemed to be a foggy type of haze I'm not sure if this was from the blast or the weather conditions at
the time.
I believe that our house had only minor damage, things like broken windows etc. and we were extremely lucky that nobody
in our family were badly hurt, as far as I know there were not any fatalities from this incident, but I cannot be sure of this,
the V2 had landed in soil, this had somewhat cushioned the blast.
After this incident, there were stories and rumours going around for some time as to the effect of this blast,one story that
was being told was particularly horrific and i will only briefly refer to it. As the rocket had landed in a cemetary, a torso was
supposedly blown through someones roof and landed on a bed, which was occupied by a lady at the time,with a predictable
outcome.
.I have tried to choose my words carefully in this story, bearing in mind that, war, by its very nature is a horrific and violent
occurance and certain events are not easy to relate, whilst keeping to the truth. If I have caused any upset or offence during
the latter part of this story I would like to apologise.