Sandringham Road bomb: 'We were really lucky to be alive' says survivor

Pam Hart survived the Sandringham Road bomb in 1944. The photograph shows her and mother, who were also in the house.

Pam Hart survived the Sandringham Road bomb in 1944. The photograph shows her and mother, who were also in the house.

First published in News
Last updated
Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

As a baby Pamela Hart survived the worst war tragedy to hit Watford - a bomb that wiped out two entire streets and cost 37 people their lives.

In the early hours of Sunday, July 30, 1944, a V1 flying bomb landed near the junction of Sandringham Road and Parkgate Road resulting in an explosion that injured another 64 people and left 50 houses damaged beyond repair.

Some 500 other homes were also damaged in the blast and 100 shops in St Albans Road lost their windows.

Watford Observer:

Pamela was just 15 months old when the bomb fell directly onto her family home. Her four-year-old brother Peter was trapped in the rubble, while her mother Violet was buried alive for more than seven hours.

Pamela nee Howard, now 71, said: "It was a direct hit on our house. I was in a cot, I was blown out and somehow ended up sat on top of the rubble.

"They dug my brother out first, my mother was trapped for seven hours - I think something collapsed on her and that’s what took so long.

"We were really lucky to be alive.

"When she was pulled out, my mum was so swollen from the blast, her own father didn’t recognise her."

Pamela’s aunt was also in the house, none of the family were seriously injured. But three other children in the street died in the explosion.

Pamela said the siren noises that sounded at the nearby factory to call the workers back to their shift always frightened her as a child and she never really knew why.

The resident of Little Grove, Bushey, said: "My mum didn’t really talk about it until she was in her 80s. She always said she remembered it like yesterday."

After the bomb, the Howards were left with nothing - no clothes and nowhere to live - but knowing they were lucky to survive.

Pamela’s soldier father, George, who was recuperating in hospital after being injured, didn’t know about the bomb until he saw the photograph of their blasted house in a daily newspaper.

The image, which shows the remains of the Howard’s house, has become one of the defining pictures of the devastation caused by the Sandringham Road bomb - now commonly referred to as the biggest tragedy of the 20th century in South West Hertfordshire.

Shortly after, the family moved into a house on Parkgate Road, opposite their destroyed home.

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