Monday, 12 October 2015

12/13 October 1940: The London Underground on this day 75 years ago

Thirty-sixth day/night of the London Blitz.

At 19:30 on Saturday 12 October 1940,a bomb penetrated the Bakerloo line tunnel at Kensal Green. Southbound services reversed at Queen's Park.[1]

The roof of the trainmen's mess at Neasden Depot was slightly damaged by a shrapnel at 19:55.[2]

Also at 19:55, Stockwell station was closed due to a Delayed Action bomb 30 yards (27 metres) from the station, which reopened at 07:00 the following day.[2][1]

Hyde Park Corner station was closed at 20:30 due to heavy firing by Anti-Aircraft guns situated in the Park itself.[1]

At 20:52, a bomb hit the road directly over the Bakerloo line's Trafalgar Square station (later combined with the separate Norther line Strand station to form the current Charing Cross), breaking segments of two tunnel rings at the foot of the escalator shaft.[2] The station was closed and a 10 mph speed restriction imposed when traffic recommenced on the 13th.[1] See boxed section below for further details.

Hammersmith & City line services were suspended between Hammersmith and Ladbroke Grove due to a Delayed Action (DA) bomb near the Shepherd's Bush sub-station from 21:15 5o 23:28.[1] Further along the line, a suspected DA in the subway at Royal Oak Piccadilly line station at 22:17 suspended services between Paddington and Ladbroke Grove until 22:27.[3]

During the night a DA exploded between Fraringdon Street and Aldersgate & Barbican stations, damaging the track.[4]

Northern City line trains were reversed at Drayton Park from 22:11 to 23:44 due to a suspected DA over the tunnel between Drayton Park and Finsbury Park.[3]

Trafalgar Square Station

At 10:00 on the 13th, Lieutenant-Colonel AHL Mount of the Ministry of Transport (see reports of 27/28 Sep & 30 Sep/1 Oct) made an inspection of the site, and subsequently reported:
"At about 9.0 pm on 12/10, a bomb (presumably 250 kilo) fell on the roadway, making a shallow crater some 40 ft. [12 metres] in diameter, which fractured water-mains and damaged some 14 or 15 rings of the 27 ft. [8.23 metres] lower escalator chamber, the top of which is 42 ft. [13 metres] below the surface. The soffit segments of 3 rings fell in, leaving a void above in the loose clay of the bomb crater. The dividing wall between the passages leading out of the escalator chamber was severely shattered and the outer wall damaged, leaving the roof joist dangerously supported. The lower headwall at the junction of the inclined tunnel and the lower chamber was also severely damaged.

Small water-mains on the surface were fractured, but supply had been cut off. Water, however, was coming in at the top of the escalator.

I was informed that of the people sheltering at the bottom of the escalator, 10 were killed, 10 seriously injured, and 10 less seriously injured.

The running tunnels were not apparently affected, but a speed restriction was imposed, pending further examination."[5]
Contractors had already begun work, and by the time of Mount's visit scaffolding had been erected, and necessary equipment put into place. Unfortunately, no segments of the size that needed replacement were available, so they would have to be newly case, which would take some two to three weeks, although it was thought that timbering could be used in the meantime, if the station were to remain open for passengers.

On the same day as Mount's visit, the LPTB's Chief Engineer submitted a more detailed report on the damage:
"There are 30 rings of the disused 10-ft [3 metres] diameter passageway badly damaged alongside the lower escalator chamber and several top segments are fallen in.

The lower escalator chamber and passage are unsafe until properly supported. In the running tunnels below on the NB side the damage is confined to several single cable brackets broken and some breaks in the track concrete haunchings.

On the SB side the joints of the running tunnel have started in a number of places and the top flange of one of the segments is cracked below a chute opening in the floor of the above mentioned 10-ft disused passage.

Some loose concrete in the chute has been removed and some small amount of water is leaking from the soffite of the tunnel.

These running tunnels are considered safe for traffic meantime with a speed restriction which will be imposed."[5]
In the event, full services through the services resumed after 29 days, on 11 November.[6]

Although the initial death toll was put at ten, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records only six fatalities in the station, with a seventh dying in hospital the same day.[7]

[1] Railway Executive Committee: Files: Form RWD2, 18:00 12/10/40 to 06:00 13/10/40, sheet 1 [Kew: National Archives, reference AN 2/1105]
[2] Railway Executive Committee: Files: Form D2, 18:00 12/10/40 to 06:00 13/10/40, sheet 3 [Kew: National Archives, reference AN 2/1105]
[3] Railway Executive Committee: Files: Form RWD2, 18:00 12/10/40 to 06:00 13/10/40, sheet 2 [Kew: National Archives, reference AN 2/1105]
[4] Ministry of Home Security, Key Points Intelligence Directorate: Reports and Papers, Daily Reports - October 1940: Damage Appreciation 13-14/09/40, page 5 [Kew: National Archives, reference HO 201/3]
[5] Ministry of Transport and successors, Railway Divisions: Correspondence and Papers, Air Raid Damage - Underground Railways, 1940-1941 [Kew: National Archives, reference MT 6/2759]

[6] Ministry of Home Security, Air Raid Precautions (ARP GEN) Registered files: AIR RAIDS, Incident Reports, Tube incidents statistics [Kew: National Archives, reference HO 186/2419]
[7] Casualty & Fatalty Analysis: Trafalgar Square 12/10/40


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