Friday 10 February 2017

Remembering the West Hendon Bomb victims - Service this Sunday 12th Feb

The sad tale of the "West Hendon Bomb" of 1941 has been a topic of much discussion on the BBC Radio London Robert Elms show this week. As the chronicler of all things London Borough, good, bad, sad, happy, interesting and mundane, it seemed to me that we really should pull the story together for posterity.  The short version of the story so far is that every Wednesday Robert Elms does "Notes and Queries" just after 10am. This section of the show allows listeners to ring in and ask other listeners to call in to fill in the details of events and items of interest from our amazing city.

This week, Jasmin from Hendon called in. She was interested in the fate of the rough hewn cross, fashioned from the wooden detritius of the site of a huge German bomb that devastated West Hendon, killing 75 people in February 13, 1941 (you caan here here call by clicking this link and forwarding to 18:05 - ). Jasmin reported that the cross was taken away by the "Hendon Parish Council" council during the early 1960's for "safekeeping.
Pictures of the Cross, courtesy Broken Barnet blog

Jasmin wanted to know what happened to the cross. She said that Barnet Council claim to have no record of it. Now I happen to know Jasmin. She came down to collect "community Campaign of the Year" for her work in West Hendon.  She is a tireless campaigner and has also been recognised by The Guardian. She is what the Barnet Eye believes community is all about.

She also mentioned that the annual memorial service for the victims will be held this Sunday. Last years service received a write up in The Guardian.  The area where the service is held is known as "York Memorial Park". Rather oddly, the council appears to have claimed that no memorial services or memorials have ever existed on the site. Rather sad really considering that this is possibly the largest single loss of life in London of the Blitz period.

My fellow Barnet blogger Mrs Angry has written a couple of excellent blogs on the subject ( - )

There is a nice write up on the BBC peoples war website

Sadly Roberts show failed to solve the mystery of the missing cross. Jasmin stated that she was trying to locate the cross as it would be fitting to have a permanent memorial to the victims. Today Robert read out an email giving some more information (listen at 21:10 - ). From the information he read out, it seems a stone memorial was also installed at some point. It seems the cross was removed in the 1950's to make way for temporary housing. This gave way to a memorial stone, which is shrouded in mystery.

I'll give the last word to the then Dean of Hendon, from his words at the 1941 memorial service for victims. If you can, try and get down to the service this Sunday.
The last word shall not be with the destroyer. That is the meaning of our service, and of the simple Cross under which we stand ... Such scenes of desolation as this form a terrible monument to the wickedness of those who pursue brute force without reference to the God of Righteousness, and Justice and Love, before Whom they must one day render account for their deeds.

The 'Little People' of London's suburbs, whom they sought to smash, live on bearing the unquenchable torch of Freedom, and the rough wooden Cross at West Hendon remains as a symbol of the spirit that prevailed against the greatest peril of oppression humanity has ever had to face.

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