London

Bethnal Green WW2 Tube disaster memorial unveiled

Memorial unveiling
Image caption The memorial was unveiled at a ceremony outside Bethnal Green station

A memorial paying tribute to the 173 people who died in the Bethnal Green Tube disaster during World War Two has been officially unveiled.

Twenty-seven men, 84 women and 62 children were killed when 300 people were caught in a crush in the east London Tube entrance on 3 March 1943.

The Stairway to Heaven Memorial was unveiled at a ceremony attended by survivors of the tragedy.

Sadiq Khan, who was at the ceremony, said it was "humbling" to attend.

The mayor of London said it "beggars belief that more than 70 years on there has been no memorial", adding it was "really important that we honour and remember those who perished".

The tragedy 74 years ago was the worst civilian disaster of World War Two, with nearly 100 people also injured.

Crowds were rushing into the underground when one woman tripped, causing other people to fall and they were crushed in the pitch black.

It was estimated about 300 people were wedged in the stairwell which measured about 4.5 metres by 3.4 metres (15 ft by 11 ft), according to the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust.

Image caption The memorial has been unveiled 74 years after the disaster
Image caption Survivors joined the mayor of London and other dignitaries for the unveiling

Survivor Joseph Walker, who was at the ceremony, said it was "fantastic" to see the memorial unveiled.

The Londoner was eight when he got caught up in the crush and spent nine months in hospital recovering having suffered damage to his spleen, legs, neck and arms.

"You were just pushed in a wave but luckily for me I was at the bottom so I could breath," he said.

No bombs were actually dropped in the East End that night but the government kept the tragedy secret to avoid it being used as propaganda by enemy forces.

Image caption Joseph Walker spent nine months in hospital having been caught up in the crush

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