Sutherland Terrace, Pimlico

16 April 1941

By Hayley Clarke

16-17 April 1941 saw one of the worst bombing raids to affect Westminster during the Blitz. Sutherland Terrace SW1 was hit by two parachute mines and three high explosive bombs, devastating the surrounding area. A boy of about six remembers playing in the neighbouring Cumberland Street when he heard the air raid siren sound.  Taking shelter in the cellar of the house opposite, he awaited the outcome of the attack. The first bomb fell at 11:56 pm. Reports of damage started coming in at 1:41am on 17 April with news of a parachute mine demolishing 2 Sutherland Terrace. Seven causalities were reported, all of which were believed dead. Up to thirty houses along Sutherland Terrace were reported as “razed to the ground” (i.e. flattened). 

Haphazard reports continued to come in, and ambulances were sent from the surrounding areas of Kingston, Dolphin and Berkely in anticipation of heavy 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, 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 in three different sites.

The young boy in Cumberland Street remembers 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. Eventually, they managed to escape through holes connected to the street in time to see the rescue teams arrive. The house was a pile of rubble and the boy saw the dead body of the neighbour being pulled out of the ruins. Other witnesses were luckier. Local businesswoman, Marjorie Kallender, lived a few streets away in Warwick Way. The windows of the hairdressers she owned were blown out. But Marjorie’s clients were made of strong stuff- when asked if they wanted to leave during air raids, she claims most preferred to continue.

By late morning on 17 April, the 100-strong rescue party requested a canteen, as refreshment was “very much needed” and they had been “without refreshment for some time past”. The last incident report came on 20 April at 2:22pm, when a call was received to send a shroud to 1 Sutherland Terrace “for the feet of Mr Dobson”.

By 25 April, news reached the local community via the Westminster and Pimlico Gazette that three of Westminster’s “Gallant Wardens” were to be awarded George Medals (GM) for their “great personal risk “. Their citations described how they had worked whilst “HE bombs exploded and a large gas main blazed furiously.”

Photo:Bomb damage to Sutherland Terrace, Pimlico

Bomb damage to Sutherland Terrace, Pimlico

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Static water tanks on the cleared bomb sites of Sutherland Terrace

Static water tanks on the cleared bomb sites of Sutherland Terrace

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Damage to Sutherland Terrace, Pimlico

Damage to Sutherland Terrace, Pimlico

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Bomb Map: Sutherland Terrace

Bomb Map: Sutherland Terrace

Copyright Westminster City Archives

2 Sutherland Terrace, Pimlico

This page was added by Camilla Bergman on 21/06/2010.

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