Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Sunday, 7 March 2010

Service marks wartime Bethnal Green tube crush

Plaque at Bethnal Green Tube station
Campaigners want a more permanent memorial

Relatives of people who died in the Bethnal Green tube disaster have held a ceremony to mark its 67th anniversary.

A total of 173 people, including 62 children, lost their lives on 3 March 1943, when people rushed to enter the station after an air raid warning.

Relatives laid flowers at the tube entrance following a service at St John-on-Bethnal Green on Sunday.

Actress Barbara Windsor, who lived in the area until she was four years old, laid a wreath during the ceremony.

'Tragic, tragic disaster'

She said she first heard about the tragedy when campaigners trying to raise money for the memorial approached her.

Ms Windsor added: "It was a tragic, tragic disaster - a hundred and seventy-odd killed - awful. Then it was kept quite for years and years and years.

"We do honour the women of the war, the animals of the war, and we should honour the civilians that died."

The tragedy is said to be Britain's worst civilian incident during WWII.

The crush which led to the disaster is believed to have started when a woman with a baby tripped in the darkness on wet steps.

A plaque at the station serves as a reminder of events, but campaigners want a more permanent memorial.

Sandra Scotting, whose mother survived the disaster, said: "A local architect actually saw the plaque, researched what was going on and thought, 'Well, this was the worst civilian disaster of the Second World War, it deserves more than just this plaque'.

"He designed the Stairway to Heaven memorial and suddenly all the survivors and relatives got together. Here we all are, we set up a charity and now we're raising money as hard as we can."

The group has managed to raise £200,000 of the £650,000 needed to build the memorial and has appealed for donations.

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