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Last Updated:  Monday, 3 March, 2003, 15:56 GMT
Memorial call from Tube disaster victims
Commemorative plaque
Survivors want a better tribute than the existing plaque
Survivors of the worst civilian tragedy of the war years are asking for a better memorial at the Tube station where 173 people lost their lives.

A simple plaque at Bethnal Green tube station in east London is the only reminder of London Underground's worst disaster on 3 March 1943.

A total of 62 children were among the 173 people crushed to death as people rushed into the station to escape a Luftwaffe air raid during World War II.

In fact it was just British troops testing equipment in nearby Victoria Park.

Sixty years on, only a handful of survivors are left and are still living with the consequences.

Alf Morris was one of the last people to be pulled out of the crush.

A Tube station being used as a bomb shelter
Details of the incident were supressed to protect war morale
He said: "I was only a child but I can still remember what happened here as if it was last night.

"I never go to a football match, I don't want to go to the theatre, I don't like going anywhere where there are crowds."

A remembrance service was held at St John's church, which is next to the east London Tube station, on Sunday.

The government suppressed the details of the incident for nearly two years, to protect public morale during the war.

The disaster was the largest-recorded civilian accident of the war and was responsible for a third of the area's total wartime deaths.

Entrance was a 'death trap'

The crush happened after a woman and child fell near the foot of the stairs, while those at the top continued to pour in.

Bethnal Green resident Annie Baker, whose husband and daughter were killed, sued the local council for negligence as they were supposed to have made the shelter safe.

She was awarded 1,200 in damages after the judge ruled that "the dangerous condition of the steps made the entrance a death trap".

After the tragedy, handrails were installed on the steps down to the station and steps were marked with white paint.

Tower Hamlets Council said it was distressed to learn survivors had raised concerns about the existing memorial.

She said the council had worked closely with residents in 1993 to ensure the plaque was just right.

She added: "However, the Council will be discussing the matter with survivors now that the matter has been brought to our attention."


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC London's Penny Wrout
"What had been a building site became a bomb shelter, even before the track got laid"



SEE ALSO:
Central Line open 'in weeks'
21 Feb 03 |  England
One Tube crash line re-opens
18 Feb 03 |  England


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