Sutherland Street and the Blitz

16 and 17 April 1941 saw some of the worst bombing raids to affect Westminster during the Blitz. Sutherland Terrace, in Pimlico, was hit by two parachute mines and three highly explosive bombs, devastating the surrounding area. One witness, a boy then aged about six years old, remembered playing in the neighbouring Cumberland Street when he heard the air raid siren.  He took shelter in a nearby basement, and along with so many other residents, awaited for the attack to end. The first bomb fell at 11:56pm on 16th April. Reports of the damage started coming in at 1:41am the following morning, with news of a parachute mine demolishing 2 Sutherland Terrace. Seven causalities were reported. A total of 30 houses along Sutherland Terrace were wiped out by the attack and seven people lost their lives over night.

Haphazard reports continued to come in, and ambulances were sent from the surrounding areas of Kingston, Dolphin Square and Berkeley Square in anticipation of numerous casualties. The efforts of the servicemen and volunteers were hampered by coal gas mains catching fire and damage to water mains. One of the last calls to reach emergency services, just before the phone lines went dead, requested a mortuary van to be sent to neighbouring 12 Winchester Place to collect five bodies and for “more help” to be sent, as thirteen people were still believed to be buried underneath the rubble in three different sites.

The young boy from Cumberland Street remembered entering his friend’s makeshift air raid shelter and his friend’s mum meeting her neighbour who declined to join them. As they entered, the inhabitants saw a blinding blue flash, the room filled with choking dust and the debris buried them alive. They were able to escape in time to see the rescue teams arrive.

By late morning on 17th April, the 100-strong rescue party requested a canteen, as refreshment was “very much needed”.

The Westminster and Pimlico Gazette reported on 25th April, that three of Westminster’s rescue helpers were to be awarded George Medals for the risk they took in the night of 16th and 17th April to save the lives of local residents.

Bomb Damage to Sutherland Terrace (Copyright: Westminster City Archives)
Bomb Damage to Sutherland Terrace (Copyright: Westminster City Archives)
Static Water Tanks Sutherland Terrace (Copyright: Westminster City Archives)
Static Water Tanks Sutherland Terrace (Copyright: Westminster City Archives)
Damage to Sutherland Terrace (Westminster City Archives)
Damage to Sutherland Terrace (Westminster City Archives)
Bomb Map Sutherland Terrace (Copyright: Westminster City Archives)
Bomb Map Sutherland Terrace (Copyright: Westminster City Archives)

Source: West End at War

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