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15 October 2014
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New Cross Gate V2

by Tony Rollins

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Contributed by 
Tony Rollins
People in story: 
Tony Rollins
Location of story: 
SE London
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Contributed on: 
17 September 2005

The V2s came without warning.The only sign
of their having dropped from the sky was a vertical white trail hanging in the air like a rope .
At the time of the V2s I was about 13 yrs old and mad keen on aeroplanes.I wanted to be a pilot and fly Spitfires.
I used to buy Airfix model aeroplane assembly kits and put them together.Since there were few toys around I was able to sell these to a shop in New Cross Gate .
The shop was situated next to the railway bridge,which is part of the main road, at New Cross Gate in a
row of shops opposite Woolworths.
It was Saturday and I visited the shop to deliver some models and earn some pocket money.I boarded a tram heading down towards Deptford Broadway.I got off at my stop and started to walk the few hundred yards to my home in Friendly St when there was a huge explosion.The V2s always exploded with two "crumps" one quickly followed by a second.I knew immediately it was a V2 and as I looked back in the direction of the noise I saw a huge tower of smoke with all sorts of pieces turning and twisting and glinting heading skyward.
I turned and ran back to the scene.It took me about 10 minutes.
I shall never forget what I witnessed.The front of the shop I had sold my aeroplanes to was completely blown in,and on the other side of the road was a huge smouldering crater.
Sheets of corrugated steel had been placed along some of the gutters to cover what was left of people and blood was seeping out from beneath.There was debris everywhere.I saw several people dead beneath telegraph poles and there were bodies and wounded and maimed laying randomly all over the place.
Everybody who could was roped in to help clear debris and I did what I was asked to give a hand.
It was midday on Saturday.The V2 made a direct hit on Woolworths when all the women were out shopping with their children.It was the worst V2 outrage of the war.I recall that very nearly 200 people died .
Next to Woolworths and badly damaged was a Lyons "corner shop".I discovered later that week that my cousin was working there at the time.She was buried in the wreckage and was one of the dead.
There must be many people around like me who will always remember New Cross Gate.

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