Survivors and relatives gather to honour 70th anniversary of Highbury Corner bomb

18:58 27 June 2014

The mayor and residents gather at the scene in Highbury Corner, including Brian Monti (seventh from left) and Tracey Shaw (third right, front row)

The mayor and residents gather at the scene in Highbury Corner, including Brian Monti (seventh from left) and Tracey Shaw (third right, front row)


A man who was blown up as a schoolboy and a woman whose grandma died in the blast were among those who paid their respects on the 70th anniversary of the Highbury Corner bomb.

Police stopped traffic on the busy gyratory as survivors, relatives and local dignitaries gathered for an emotional minutes silence at exactly 12.46pm this afternoon.

Seven decades ago in 1944, during World War II, 26 people lost their lives and 150 more where injured when the German VI flying bomb exploded in what was then a residential street.

The blast completely destroyed 11 houses and the Cock Tavern, as well as damaging many other buildings, including the old Highbury and Islington station.

Brain Monti, 79, of Florence Street, Islington, was a pupil at nearby Canonbury Road School when the bomb hit.

He said: “We were all out in the playground kicking a football about when we heard it come over.

“Before we could get to cover it blew up.

“All the kids in the were blown away and some of them were very badly injured, although I don’t think any of them actually died.

“I suffered a break in my hand and a perforated ear drum for the rest of my life – it kept me out of the armed forces.

“That’s why I am here today, to pay my respects to all the people who died or were injured.”

Margeret Girdlestone, 81, was also at school during the explosion.

“I was eating my school dinner,” she said. “Suddenly all the glass from the windows shattered into our food.

“I remember it clearly because it was so dramatic.

“We had to walk the back way, round [nearby] Liverpool Road, and I remember my brother not liking it one but.

“When we were evacuated I remember being put in a tin bath as soon as I got to my new home.

“I didn’t know why until I saw the Gazette front page – we were all covered in soot from the steam train.”

Tracey Shaw, who lives in Herfordshire, lost her grandmother Elizabeth Harding in the explosion 70 years ago.

“I only found out about the ceremony today,” she said. “My father and I have been down before but he couldn’t make it this time.

“My grandma was working in the post office. She was doing an extra shift that day when it happened.

“My dad was only five at the time so my great aunt had to identify her. Her husband, my granddad, was in Italy with the army, but they wouldn’t let him come home.”

The bomb took around half an hour to arrive after it was fired in France.

As it flew over Hackney the engines were switched off to mask its approach.

Historian John Shepherd said: “Afterwards the blast they created Highbury Corner, because the houses on both sides of the street were destroyed.

“There are still basements, cellars and foundations under the road.

“The sad fact is it did its job as far as the Germans were concerned - it caused massive death and destruction.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Archway Resource Centre, on Waterlow Road, provides an irreplaceable setting of community

Eight charities fear for their futures after being evicted from their low-rent premises.

Islington Youth Council, 2016-18. From left: Mohamed Abaas, Serkan Marasli, Honey Baker, Venetia McNally, Iqra Finiin, Miriam Fleary, Chikamso Ben-Nwankwo, Diana Lucia Gomez Paniagua, Tega Agbede, Noe Buttery, Darey Cletus and Zarin Haque

Islington’s Youth Council election was “a victory for youth democracy” as a record number of young people voted.

Jessie, pictured here with John Cronin, went missing outside Your Local Express in Liverpool Road

A dog that was stolen from outside a shop earlier this month has been returned to his owners alive and well – just in time for Christmas.

Vaso Kakko

Detectives investigating the murder of 17-year-old Vaso Kakko in Holloway made an arrest yesterday.

A film beams from outside Tintype, Essex Road, last year. Photo: Cameron Leadbetter

An Essex Road art gallery will be impossible to ignore over the next month, as it launches an exhibition of short films beamed directly to shoppers and passers-by.

Yesterday, 17:33
Police believe these two men could help with investigations

Police have released images of two men they would like to speak to as part of an investigation into a sexual assault in Old Street.

Yesterday, 17:04
The group left the train at Highbury and Islington.

A “good Samaritan” was left needing hospital treatment after he was attacked while trying to stop a woman from being sexually assaulted on

Yesterday, 14:30
Sarah Dunant (L), artist and refugee Neda with her artwork, and actress Juliet Stevenson (R)

The Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants is urgently appealing for more donations in the run-up to Christmas in order to stay open for an extra day each week.

Most read news


Win a beautiful monochrome tunic dress with Great British Life!

Great British Life is offering a beautiful monochrome silk tunic dress worth £179 to one lucky reader

Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

Digital Edition

Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder