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  • Diana Wells

The VI that fell on Gotham Villas on Twickenham Riverside.

An intriguing enquiry was received in 2021 via the Parish website: “My mother who is 90 is stuck with a memory of her uncle Cecil (Bore) during the second world war. She has mild dementia and she keeps reliving the death of her Aunty Pixie and cousin Nicholas who lived opposite Eel Pie Island. It is driving her mad unable to remember the road name in which they lived. She says it wasn't far from the Regal Cinema.”

 

I set to and quickly found that the address of the Bore family in 1944 was 4 Gotham Villas, Water Lane, when Nicholas was 7, his sister Jennifer was 2, and Cecil Bore was working as a telephone engineer. A search soon found references to the terrible day when the V1 completely destroyed Gotham Villas and the boathouses at the bottom of Water Lane, killing six residents and four men on the riverside including Frederick Hammerton, a waterman aged 36, one of the well-known Hammerton family many generations of whose members are recorded in the church registers of baptisms, marriages and funerals. A Borough of Twickenham Local History Society (BoTLHS) booklet[1] describes all the bombs that fell in Hampton, Teddington and Twickenham, including the V1s and V2s.

 

My search also located a fascinating article written in 2003 by Jennifer, now in her 50s, from which I learned about her miraculous survival from the blast: she was dragged from under a beam by a passer-by who was horrified to hear someone say they were going to save her by amputating her leg! She was treated in hospital for a month and brought up by her father in Lower Grotto Road. Many years later she was able to meet her rescuer – someone she knew but neither had realised it! To my surprise my enquirer seemed unaware of her existence or her story and I hope that they have been able to make contact.

 

Many of the Water Lane houses were rebuilt after the war but the site of the boathouses remains as the grassed area with trees, enjoyed by ducks and geese, at the lower end of Water Lane.

 




[1] BoTLHS Paper 80, 2007, by Paul Barnfield.

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