Lowndes Street SW1

15 October 1940

By Alec Gladd

The first bombs to fall in Westminster were incendiaries, just before 11pm on 30 August 1940. Londoners were as yet unused to air raids and hard lessons had to be learned.

At 10pm on 4 September 1940 Lowndes Square SW1 was hit by a high explosive bomb. A local ARP warden telephoned the Report Centre at City Hall to say that he had seen a “large crater”. A 'flying column' of three Heavy Rescue teams, an ambulance, two stretcher party cars and a First Aid car were swiftly disptached to the scene. Arriving outside No. 21 Lowndes Square, the rescue teams discoved only light damage caused by an unexploded anti-aircraft shell. The ARP subsequently described the incident as ‘Inexperienced reporting’.

On 15 October 1940 - by which time the City of Westminster was witnessing significant air raid damage - a high explosive bomb struck 12 Lowndes Street SW1 at around 1.30am, demolishing its ground and middle floors. What was left of the house's upper stories now hung precariously over a pile of rubble. Two people were reported missing in the upper bedrooms. Unable to gain access from the ground floor, two local ARP wardens scaled the building's damaged outside lead water-pipe and searched the smashed bedroom remains for one and a half hours. Two fatalities were confirmed and a woman was found trapped on the second floor. She was extracted and safely lowered to the street by knotted sheets.

Overhead, the air raid continued and three more high explosive bombs fell close by, igniting a gas main which blazed out of control for some time. The two ARP wardens who had rescued the woman were subsequently awarded George Medals.

Photo:12 Lowndes Street, September 1940

12 Lowndes Street, September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP report, 28 Lowndes Square, 4 September 1940

ARP report, 28 Lowndes Square, 4 September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP report, 12 Lowndes Street, 15 October 1940

ARP report, 12 Lowndes Street, 15 October 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Bomb Map: 12 Lowndes Street

Bomb Map: 12 Lowndes Street

Copyright Westminster City Archives

12 Lowndes Street SW1

This page was added by Alec Gladd on 24/04/2012.

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