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The Second World War

Of outer east London Second World War bombs and rockets killed more people in Leyton than any area other than Ilford, and total casualties were higher than Ilford and Walthamstow 1. Leyton was struck by fewer V2 rockets than its north-east London neighbours (Ilford received over 3 times as many) but they were less likely to fall on open space.  The number of people killed in air raids 1940-45 was second only to Ilford, and the number of buildings demolished and damaged by enemy action was only exceeded by Ilford and Walthamstow. 2

Flying bombs were launched at London for 80 days from June 1944.  The number of ‘imminent’ warnings for flying bombs were so many that they were ignored, workers simply diving under benches and desks or against walls if there was a ‘crash’ warning, which would protect them against flying glass but no more.  This reduced lost production time to under 1%.  

Over 200 employees of ‘Lewco’, the London Electric Wire Company of Church Road, Leyton,  lost their homes in World War 2 air raids 3.  

A Lewco’ publication conveys the emotional strain of the Second World War.  The company decided that production was too disrupted if the workers two-thirds of them women, went into shelters when the air raid sirens were sounded.  Lewco got a member of staff to assess from the factory roof when the risk of bomb impact was truly imminent, a system used by other factories and soon adopted officially by the government.  >>

1  1948-2012 Olympics exhibition at VHM

2  VHM W64.1 shelf item collection of photocopies of printed pages, apparently from an Essex County Council report of January 1947

3  ‘Every Kind of Bomb’ December 1945

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