The 71st Anniversary Memorial Service for the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster


P R E S S   R E L E A S E: 

The 71st Anniversary Memorial Service to honour the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster – the worst civilian disaster of WW2.


This will be held on Sunday 2nd March at St. John on Bethnal Green Church (next door to Bethnal Green underground station) at 2pm. Survivors, relatives of the victims, rescuers and others, will come together to remember the ‘forgotten disaster’ and be available to interview. 

173 candles will be lit on the altar during the reading of the names of all the victims. 

Taking part will be local MP Rushanara Ali,   London Assembly Member for City & East, John Biggs (also a candidate for Mayor of LBTH against the current Mayor, Lutfur Rahman), Patron of the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust, Tommy Walsh (TVs DIY expert, ex Ground Force), Members of Tower Hamlets Council – including the Speaker, Cllr. Lesley Pavitt, many Pearly Kings & Queens, and representatives from the Police, Civil Defence and Fire Service who will honour their former comrades that worked tirelessly through the night pulling out people from the crush, not knowing if their own family and friends would be among the dead and injured. 

After the Service everyone will parade across the road to the partially built Stairway to Heaven Memorial to lay wreaths and then return to the church where refreshments will be available. Pete Sceats will perform two songs he has written about the disaster and the recently discovered Government cover-up. Survivors and others connected to the disaster will be available for interview. 

It was on 3rd March 1943 that a crush of people entering the station, being used as a shelter, led to 173 people dying and over 90 injured within a few seconds. Sixty two of those were children. It turned out to be the worst civilian disaster of World War 2 and was not caused by enemy action. It was kept secret at the time, apparently to prevent enemy propaganda and loss of morale, but we now know that it also prevented the Home Secretary of the day from having to resign. 

The charity is still raising funds to complete the Memorial as quickly as possible, but have had no help from the Government or Mayor Boris Johnson. 

For more information call Sandra Scotting (Hon. Sec) on 01474 702513 or 077324 60444



Please help us complete the Stairway

We need your help to raise £100,000. This money will pay for the “stairway” to be created and added to the top of the memorial. The “stairway” will be made from sustainable teak recovered from the sea. The 173 conicals in the roof will allow the light to shine through representing each victim of the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster. The hollow ‘stairway’ will also represent exactly the dimensions that 300 people were trapped in during the worst civilian disaster of World War 2.(More info on this to follow – this is an exciting project and will get its own blog post).

How you can help:

Do a sponsored event/activity
Sponsor someone who is doing one
Donate or text:start your text with STHM43 with the amount you wish to donate i.e. STHM43 £10 or STHM43 £5, and send the text to 70070.

Donate goods – we can sell these at our events
We would be very grateful if someone can help us with supplying goods such as customised t shirts, mugs etc that we can sell.

Donate skills, time
Donate facilities – e g so we can hold an event.

Tell your friends!

More information about us is at

Please contact Sandra, oron 077324 60444, to offer ideas or help.
We are extremely grateful to everyone who has already donated and helped us get to this stage where at last the plinth (main part of the memorial) is erected.

Boris Johnson helps raise funds for the Memorial

Boris Johnson auctions East End artwork for the Bethnal Green memorial

Mayor Boris Johnson is all set to put fine art and photographs under the hammer at an auction to raise funds for the Bethnal Green Disaster Memorial. A series of unseen period photos by Mike Pattison of the East End from the late 1970s and early 80s have already been donated for sale. Artwork by Eine, Rachel Glittenberg and others will also be on show in the exhibition and at the auction. Now organisers are appealing to London’s many artists to offer paintings, sculptures or other works of art for this good cause.
The donated works will form part of an exhibition to be shown at the prestigious Forman’s Fish Island Gallery between mid-May and mid-June. Some of them will be auctioned by Mayor Boris Johnson on May 29th at the Gallery at 6.30pm. Sandra Scotting, secretary of the Memorial Trust says “The Stairway to Heaven Memorial needs to be finished, so we are desperate to gather the remaining funds and complete it while survivors of the WW2 disaster are still around to see it. We’re delighted that Boris Johnson is going out of his way to support us, and we are very grateful to Lance Forman of Forman’s Fish Island who has made this exhibition and auction possible. We are thrilled with the response so far from the strong community in East London who have offered items to auction.”
The memorial is now visible beside Bethnal Green Tube Station, where 173 people were crushed to death in 1943, in what remains London’s biggest war-time civilian disaster. Until recently just a tiny plaque marked the spot where the accident happened and it is a matter of pride for many in East London that the remaining survivors should see the event properly marked within their lifetime. As most of the survivors are now in their 80s and 90s, the push to complete the memorial is urgent.
The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Charity Art & Photographic exhibition: 16th May to 16th June at Forman’s Fish Island Gallery, Stour Road, Fish Island, E3 2NT.
Exhibition open: Thursdays & Fridays 5pm until 9pm, Saturdays and Sundays noon until 5pm – Free entry. Nearest transport: Hackney Wick overground or Pudding Mill DLR.
The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Charity Art & Photographic Auction
29th May at 6.30pm. Forman’s Fish Island Gallery, Stour Road, Fish Island, E3 2NT. Tickets £20 in advance only, including welcome drink, from Rich Mix 020 7613 7498 or online via this link:
For more details please contact the Trust secretary on 077324 60 444 or e-mail or visit

business networking event, April 29th Tower Hamlets town hall.

The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust (Bethnal Green Memorial) and the Mayor of Tower Hamlets are hosting a business get together, “doing business in Tower Hamlets” Apr 29th, TowerHamletsTown Hall, 6 to 8 pm. We’re expecting at least 80 to 100 business types, we can accommodate more.

Whether you are new to business nertworking or a seasoned pro, this event is not to be missed!

The area around Whitechapel is now part of a multi million pound regeneration scheme after Crossrail and the relocation of theRoyalLondonHospital. Suggested donation for this event is £10 (cash please, on the door) and this all goes to our charity. L B Tower Hamlets are donating the venue and make no charge. If you are interested in doing business in London’s vibrant and growing East End, don’t miss it! Many of the local councillors will be at the meeting.

We hope to issue a list of attendees ,with contact details of those who have RSVP’d by 25th. This will help you to contact any attendees you miss at the event. If you are coming and don’t want to be included on this list please tell us by the 25th.

To add people to the guest list please email Edna, and your admission ticket and full location details will be emailed to you. We want this event to be well attended so please tell your contacts! and bring your friends and colleagues. We will be very grateful for your help in spreading the word about this event.

Please RSVP as we need to know expected numbers.

There is a suggested donation of £10 for the event and this all goes to our charity – L B T H is donating the room and facilities.

How to get there:

More info on our charity:


Own goal for Google?

We decided it was time to have our very own You tube channel, but:

you tube is tied to google and a gmail account. We do have a gmail account, and this was set up by a trustee. Google say that to call our you tube account “Bethnal Green Memorial” is in breach of their rules for names and the channel has to be in the name of the individual who set up the email account. Despite our supplying the charity registration details, the twitter, facebook etc accounts , and website all in the name of the chrity, Google have disallowed my appreal to call the you tube channel “Bethnal Green Memorial ” so that our supporters can find us!

So, if anyone can suggest an alternative to You tube, that allows us to post our own video clips and share other clips that are of interest, please let us know!

Meanwhile I have replied to Google expressing the appropriate sentiments…..

Jewish victims of the 1943 Bethnal Green tube disaster

If you have passed Bethnal Green tube station recently, you will have noticed the new memorial taking shape near the stairway. It will commemorate the 173 people who died on these stairs in the worst civilian disaster of World War II.
On 3rd March 1943, the siren sounded at 8.17pm. There had been a heavy raid on Berlin the night before, so reprisals were expected. People made their way to the underground station, then being used as a shelter. They filed in an orderly manner in the pitch dark of the blackout, down the steps, which were wet and slippery from the rain. At 8.27 three buses unloaded their passengers at the shelter entrance. Suddenly, those waiting to enter heard the unfamiliar and deafening sound of a brand new ‘anti-aircraft rocket battery’ firing in Victoria Park nearby. At that moment a woman carrying a child fell at the bottom of the stairway, pulling another man on top of her. Others fell on top of them as the crowd above continued to move down the stairs, unable to see the horror of what was happening below in the dark. A complete jam of about 300 people, five or six deep, built up within seconds. They could not move and it took a while before help came to try to pull them out.
So difficult was it to extricate everyone that it was 11.40pm before the last of the bodies was pulled out. By then it was found that 173 were dead (84 women, 62 children and 27 men) and around 90 more were injured. Many of those present, including the rescuers, have suffered life-long trauma as they were told to say nothing about the disaster, to prevent loss of morale in London.
In 1943 Bethnal Green was home to many Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, and several victims of the disaster were Jewish. Among the dead was Israel Brookstone, a tailor born in Russia, who had married Sarah Bogodski at Whitechapel in 1899. In 1911 he was living at 3 Lydia Street, Stepney, with his wife and 5 children. At the time of his death they were living at 41 Teesdale Street. Maurice Lazarus, another victim, was born in Bethnal Green in 1900, the son of Benjamin Lazarus, a dealer in boots, and Fannie Lazarus a corset maker, of 157 Bethnal Green Road and both from Russia. Maurice married Rosy Goldstein in 1924. They lived at 205 Roman Road. Maurice was with the Light Rescue Service.
Sophia Myers (formerly Goldrich,) was the wife of Isaac Myers, a caterer. She and her 6 year old son Jeffrey perished in the disaster. The family lived at 55 Cleveland Way, Mile End.
Some of the Jewish residents had married out of their faith. One victim, Eliza Korobenick (formerly Mead), had married Morris Korobenick the previous year. She was killed along with 6 other members of the Mead family. Morris Korobenick had been born in Bethnal Green in 1910, the son of Barnett Korobenick from Russia and his wife Yetta. He was living with his brother David at 3 Charles Street, Stepney, in 1932.
Betty Aarons was 14 and lived at 39 Maitland House, Bishops Way. She was still at school and her family were dreading the possible invasion by Nazis.
These people are among the 173 victims to whom the memorial is dedicated. A significant amount of money has already been raised, the plinth is now installed and over £100,000 is still needed to finish the memorial. The aim is to have it complete by March 2013, the 70th anniversary of the disaster.
For more information, including how to donate, see . You can keep up to date with progress at Twitter @bethnalmemorial and

London Requiem premiere, Abney Park cemetery 29th September

The Requiem, composed by Benjamin Till, included text found on gravestones across London. The music was provided by the Tamesis Quartet, Matt Whittington and Paul Kendall with singers and soloists from The Rebel
Chorus. The live event took place outdoors in the beautiful setting of Abney Park Cemetery in North London, on a still, warm, evening, which made the music even more haunting.

During the performance visual artist Gina Southgate produced a work of art.

The avenue of balloons was organised and the balloons were labelled, in memory of someone departed. At the end of the evening the audience were encouraged to take away one of the balloons and to remember the people mentioned on the label. Some people took them home and some let them off into the night sky. These baloons raised money for our charity; donations on the night amounted to £218.27 and there may be more to come when all the finances are sorted out.

Our sincere thanks go to everyone involved in the Requiem and it can be seen online at