DID THE BOMBS DROP IN BARNET?
East Barnet Urban District Council Bomb Plan (1939-45) *Displayed on the first floor at the Barnet Museum, just off the High Street, are two district council maps pinpointing where German bombs landed around High Barnet and East Barnet during World War Two (1939-45).
According to Mr McCall, a museum volunteer and member of the Barnet History Society, a parachute landmine got caught in a tree near Hampden Square where he lived in early days of 1941. At the time Mr McCall was in the navy. Visitors can see views the maps and through the aid of a magnifying glass can revel in the myriad of bombs that landed across the EN4 area.
A range of different coloured pins identify where incendiaries landed, and the findings might make some of the younger generation realise just how lucky they are to be alive today. In total 200 houses were damaged and "beyond repair" in the East Barnet district between 1939-45, with 405 described as “seriously” damaged and 13,878 just slightly.
Around the edges of Oak Hill Park, near East Barnet Village, a whole plethora of German bombs were despatched. For example, one red pin indicates ‘Kilo1’ incendiary bomb dropped and located in the park near what is a nature trail through a middle age forest adjacent to the defunct bandstand. A notation indicates that the group of Kilo1. bombs were “too numerous to plot”, with approximately 3,700 said to have been dropped in the area by the Nazis.
in the park, a light blue pin reveals that an anti-aircraft missile landed
(a total of40 such missiles were found across the district. High explosive
bombs, which are marked by dark blue pins, were fairly prevalent during
the period too, with 98 in total falling in the district and three in
East Barnet village.
We might wonder why anyone would want to bomb a quiet suburb like Barnet but during the Second World War the German air force managed to do damage in our little town at the end of the Northern line.
In the first weeks of the bombing raids in September 1940 over 13.999 tons of bombs fell on London with many civilians killed, London was a main target because of the docks and the close proximity of many important building but out here in the town the people felt safe in the knowledge that there was no need for the Luftwaffe to visit Barnet as there was nothing worth while bombing. Or was there?
As far back as 1939 the Barnet Urban District Council were preparing for war with 218 people in training to be air raid wardens. How our council knew the war was coming is another matter but the point is we were ready! We do not know where the first bomb fell in the town but a parachute mine landed on Oakmere, an old peoples home in Bells Hill Street on November 940, killing 17 people and injuring 31 Others, including nurses.
We also know that a bomb was dropped on some bungalows in Barnet High Road in January 1941, which killed seven people including a baby and on 20th January 1945 a V 2 rocket caused large damage and loss of life in Carlton Road East Barnet.
As you can see by the adjoining article quite a few bombs fell in the district and when the V 1 and V2 (flying bombs) started flying over this country everybody was a risk when the engine stopped and fell to what ever was below. The distinction between tactical and strategic bombing is that strategic bombing missions usually attack targets such as factories. railroads, oil refineries and cities, while tactical bombing missions attack targets such as troop concentrations, airfields, and ammunition dumps.
So it can be safely said that we did not fall under any of those categories. although the Standard Telephone Company down at Brunswick Park could have been a strategic bombing. In that case there would be bombers and flying bombs in the area, in which case it is likely that quite a few of the bomber crews just dropped their cargo as near as possible and got out of there as quick as possible for the long journey back to Germany.
There are possibly some of you who have friends or relatives that remember more about those times during the blitz and we would like to hear from them. If you were there please get in touch so that we can share your stories with those of us who never had to go through the nightly fear of tons of explosives coming into our homes. businesses or schools.
If you want to know more about this subject you can buy "BARNET AT WAR" by Percy Reboul and John Heathfield from The Barnet Museum.