BBC to recreate the day school was bombed
PUBLISHED: 16:46 17 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:24 12 August 2010
THE BBC is to make a film about the bombing of a school which killed scores of children. Some 38 youngsters and six teachers, many from Bromley and Bexley,
THE BBC is to make a film about the bombing of a school which killed scores of children.
Some 38 youngsters and six teachers, many from Bromley and Bexley, were killed when a Luftwaffe dropped a 200kg bomb on Catford's Sandhurst Road school in one of the most horrific attacks of WWII.
The Times received scores of letters from readers who remember the heinous and deliberate attack on January 20, 1943 after our columnist and historian Bob Ogley wrote about it September last year.
Now the tragedy will be remembered in The Week We Went to War, a five-part series to be shown in the week of September 7 and is likely to be presented by opera singer Katherine Jenkins.
The filmmakers would like to hear from anyone who recalls the bombing, either because they were a pupil, because they lost family members or because they or their relations were involved in the rescue effort afterwards.
Executive producer Sue Summers, said: "The tragedy is little remembered these days, but it was an appalling event which should not be forgotten."
On the fateful day, a group of children had stayed behind after school dinner waiting to be taken to the Lewisham Hippodrome where they were to see a performance of A Midsummer's Night Dream.
Maureen Watkins, who now lives in Bristol, had a narrow escape because she was off ill with a cold, but her twin cousins Anne and Judith Biddle, aged five, were both killed.
She said: "My mother said their mother Edith died of a broken heart. There were no other children left. It was all very sad."
Den Turner, from Bexleyheath, wrote to the Times: "I remember the day vividly as I was aged about ten.
"I was returning to school (Manor Lane) after lunch and saw a German aircraft flying very, very low over my head. We normally heard the siren at Bromley before we heard our local one, but none sounded that day."
Evelyn Florence Timpson, from Hayes, dictated her memories of the attack to her daughter Pam Thurbin before she died in 2007.
She told her: "I had an appointment with the dentist. He was drilling my tooth when we heard a plane. Just then there was a terrific explosion which we were to learn later was on Sandhurst School. When I walked out of the surgery, I saw a scene of panic. People were running up and down Brownhill Road asking where the bomb had dropped.
"We found out afterwards that the barrage balloons were all down and no siren had sounded so this one plane had got in to London alone and unchecked."
She also remembered the days following the bombing and how it affected the whole community, adding: "A mass funeral was suggested and arranged, but I know some of the victims were buried privately. I went to the bottom of Pasture Road on the day of the funeral and it was a terrible experience. Nearly every mourner walked in the road behind the corteges. The cortege was extremely long and we were all in tears and complete silence."
* Anyone who would like to share memories with the filmmakers should contact
Steven Todd at steven@finestripe. com or call 0141 440 6777.
Alternatively contact Sue Summers at sue@fine stripe.com or call 0207 431 6224.