Tuesday, 5 July 2011

From the Hogg family memories of Salmon Lane, East London, May 1941

Whilst the raid was at its height a parachute mine, dropped from a German plane, plummeted down towards Stepney East railway station. It struck the country end of the platforms and burst through the arch below. Broken bricks, twisted metal and general rubble fell from above, killing many of the shelterers outright. The air was thick with dust, choking, blinding, dust, which made everything appear as if it was in a yellow-grey fog. Those who could, began to move, but lots more lay still and lifeless. Rescuers were soon on the site, throwing aside heaps of broken masonry in the hopes of finding someone alive underneath. Lizzie Hogg, her sweetheart Ernie and his sister Lil, had been on the Chaseley Street side which was least affected and managed to stagger out into the street. Once the initial shock has passed however, Lizzie forced her way back in and to her horror, saw her sisters and mother partially buried in the rubble. She fought through the clouds of brick dust, but was pushed aside by one of the rescuers, who said that she could serve no purpose by being there. Just then she saw a man pick up Daisy's limp body and take her towards the growing number of fatalities, she thought she saw a movement and called out "That's my sister... Don't take her... She's still alive!". Lizzie was right. At that time, 21 people had been killed including her sisters Emily, Annie and her Mother.
As day broke, passers-by could see the parachute mine still hanging from the top of the arch. Fortunately it hadn't exploded, but if it had, the death toll would have been even higher.
Hilda and Daisy were rushed off to Bancroft Road hospital, both suffering extensive injuries. Lizzie arrived soon after and saw Daisy lying unconscious. She was badly cut around the face and her head had been shaven in readiness for emergency surgery. She was therefore almost unrecognisable and when she was led towards her, Lizzie said "That's not Daisy! That's a man!" Although she saw Daisy, there was no mention of Hilda, whose injuries must have been more severe. The wards at Bancroft Road were overwhelmed with numerous victims from eslewhere in the area, so later in the day, Daisy was transferred to Winchmore Hill in north London. But on the Monday, little Hilda, always referred to as 'The Baby', died.
Having arrived at Winchmore HIll, Daisy remained unconscious, but could call out "take those children off my legs!" every so often, presumably re-living the horrific experience which had overtaken her and her family. One day, she opened her eyes to see the bleary shape of her Dad and his brother Arthur standing beside the bed, but then she passed out again and returned to oblivion.
Daisy remained in that condition for exactly a week. On Sunday 18th May she finally came round. She had her eyes fully open and in the early process of regaining her senses, she looked up and saw her distraught father standing over her. This time he was on his own, and was wearing an ominous black suit. From this she immediately knew that someone in her family had been killed and instinctively guessed it was her Mother. With tears welling in her eyes she asked "How are the others? How's Hilda?" Her father said "she's alright, she's in another hospital."  and for a while at least, Daisy felt a little better. Her father Bill Hogg knew how close Daisy and Hilda had been, and felt for the time it was best she didn't know the complete truth, although, of course, she soon found out. Her Mother had gone, together with three of her sisters.
The happy morning of Saturday 10th May, when the pair ran carelessly laughing from Jack Spiro's shop, eating their chocolate, proved to be their last together.
Why Hilda? Why Annie?, Why Emily?, And why their Mother? The same sort of questions must have hung upon the lips of numerous East Enders during that unspeakably awful period.
Little was said of the funerals, although Daisy was subsequently told that they had all been buried at Woodgrange Cemetary.
Daisy's recovery was slow, she was 14 years old. She was moved to Chase Farm Hospital and had two weeks convalecsence with her Uncle and Aunt in Sutton Valance, Kent. She survived to grow up, marry and have a son. She lived until she was 84.

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