"The Oval Airman
There was an interesting incident near the Oval. The largest and last of the daylight raids on London took place on 15 September 1940. Over 180 German planes were shot down and a German airman, Robert Zehbe, baled out of his stricken Dornier bomber and landed in front of Alverstone House in Harleyford Road. Pieces of his plane came down elsewhere in central London, including in the forecourt of Victoria Station. Zehbe was attacked by a mob of furious women but was rescued by the police and driven across the Oval's turf and Vauxhall Bridge to the Millbank military hospital, where he died next day. There was a suggestion that he had been seriously injured by the Oval mob, but it is equally likely that he was badly injured before he landed.
Information about this incident was provided by historian Martin Smart. ... Pieces of the bomber are now in the RAF Museum, Hendon."
Its not all stirring battle of Britain/mob of furious women stuff though, reminding me that Kennington park is a site of all manner of horrors - used for hangings as well as political meetings, charged down by the police and corn law incidents, the Chartists, and, if you follow up the article I cite from here, you can find out all you need to know about Kennington:
"Fascinating information and stunning revelations including Public Executions,A Radical Black Methodist, The World's First National Labour Movement - The Chartists * the Significance of 10th April 1848 * The World's First Photograph of a Crowd * the Occupation of Our Common by the Royal Park * The Horns Tavern and Charlie Chaplin * The Princess of Wales Theatre * The Scandal of the Unmarked War Grave * The Squatters * 'Red Ted' * The Return of the Commons Spirit" - From Working Press: Kennington Park - birthplace of British democracy... well, there's lots more to write on this. For now I will just also go back to note that theunmarked war grave is now marked, however minimally. So minimally that I did not know that the south field of the park, where in summer people laze about not going to demos and where there is often a 'funfair', was also tragically the site of the largest single bomb loss of life in the Blitz when an air raid shelter was hit on 15 October 1940 (again from VauxallandKennington):
and - pushing the political meetings theme a little:
"'Red Ted' Knight’s socialist council started the annual fireworks displays in the Park. By 1984 the park was again being used for political gatherings. The demonstrators on the Anti Apartheid Rally of that year used the park as an assembly point. In subsequent years the park has hosted many important political gatherings including; Gay Pride (starting 1986), National Union of Students (1986), Irish Solidarity Movement (1986), Vietnamese Community event (1989), Anti Poll Tax March (1990), Kurdistan Rally (1991), Integration Alliance (1993), TUC (1993), Nigerian Rallies (1993), Campaign Against Militarism (1993) and Reclaim the Streets (1997). These events often reflect key moments in the political history of the time and are an important part of the democratic process". From: Kennington Park - birthplace of British democracy
"The shelter was large enough to accomodate hundreds, and maybe thousands, of people, and it filled the whole of the south field in Kennington Park - the field opposite what is now the cafe. The outline of the buildings can still be seen from the air, especially when the ground is very dry - see the photo. But the shelter was an unpleasant place, and people only went there because the government stopped them going down into the nearby underground stations. One witness reported that “The public shelter was horrible, smelly. It had a mouldy slab of concrete for a roof. But you couldn’t go anywhere else - the Oval Station was full of barbed wire … they wouldn’t let you near it.”"
I've included the picture and you can indeed see the evidence - the ill-defined area to the south of the trench pattern shows where the bomb hit. There's more on the bombing here (a pdf file). More to read... And with this I give notice of the start of a thread, sort of, on wartime stories that I'll come back to soon so as to relate the adventures of grandfather Thomas Mouat Tate... Stay tuned...