30 Berkeley Square W1

18 September 1940

By James Ramey

At 1.16am on 18 September 1940 ARP messages reported that two delayed-action bombs had fallen in Berkeley Square in Mayfair W1. One fell on waste ground next to 40 Berkeley Square, the second struck No 30. That night bombs rained down across London in a major raid conducted by over 250 Luftwaffe aircraft. Rescue crews raced all over the city. Oxford Street and its vicinity were particularly badly hit. During the raid rescue squads searched Berkeley Square looking for delayed-action bombs.

At 5.47am the bomb next to No 40 exploded. No 30 was then pulverised by the second, leaving only the building's central lift shaft remaining, surrounded by a pile of rubble. No casualties were reported but the explosions damaged the gas and water mains in the area and sent debris flying in all directions. Davies Street was blocked. The explosions also caused fires to break out although these were soon tackled by the fire service.

A major ARP Depot was based in Berkeley Square. The Heavy Rescue Squad sought to evacuate everyone out of the buildings whilst the fire brigade kept the fires from spreading. Whilst the rescue workers were quick to respond there was confusion as to the exact time the bombs exploded. The incident reports conflicted. One report claimed the bombs went off at 6.13am, while another claimed 5.56am. Eventually the report was corrected in the after action report.

In 1940 30 Berkeley Square was the home of Anthony Bingham Mildmay, second Baron of Mildmay. He was the son of Francis Bingham Mildmay, the First Baron. A captain in the Welsh Guards during World War II, he was best known as a steeplechaser and for kindling the Queen Mother’s interest in National Hunt Racing. Baron Mildmay sat next to the Queen Mother at a dinner in 1949. He persuaded the Queen Mother and Princess Elizabeth to purchase a horse together. The horse's name was Monaveen.

“The horse won his first race for the his new owners at Fontwell Park, earning £204, finished second in the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree, and then took the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Chase at Hurst Park (now the King George VI Chase at Kempton). These victories kindled a passion for jump racing that lasted until her death” (The Observer, March 2002)

(Rock) Baron Mildmay assumed the baronetcy in 1947 and was the last Baron of Mildmay. He tragically drowned in 1950 while swimming of the Devon coast. Today his former home in Berkeley Square is the office building for GE Capital Europe Limited.

 

Photo:Damage to 30 Berkely Square, September 1940

Damage to 30 Berkely Square, September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP Message, 30 Berkeley Square, 18 September 1940

ARP Message, 30 Berkeley Square, 18 September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP Message, 30 Berkeley Square, 18 September 1940

ARP Message, 30 Berkeley Square, 18 September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP Message, 30 Berkeley Square, 18 September 1940

ARP Message, 30 Berkeley Square, 18 September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

30 Berkeley Square

This page was added by James Ramey on 20/09/2012.

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