Bomb Census London: An East End Raid Over Walthamstow And Leyton

| 06 June 2010
shows a black and white map of a residential area with red lines and dots on it.

Walthamstow Bomb Census Map dating from 18 – 19 April 1944.

By 1944 Luftwaffe raids on England were becoming less frequent, but this map, dating from April 1944, shows bombs dropped during a single raid in the early hours of April 18/19 1944 over Leyton and Walthamstow in London’s East End.

This bomb census map makes an interesting comparison with the central London bombing map, hastily compiled during the height of the Blitz.

shows the margin of a map with annotations in red ink

Different kinds of bomb and their locations are shown with a line leading to an annotation on the map margin.

Rather than the quickly applied felt pen blotches of 1941 we now have carefully and meticlously annotated bomb locations - with some indication as to the size and type of bomb dropped.

The difference in detail may be down to the ways different agencies and ARP stations approached bomb census plotting, but it may equally be an indicator of the sporadic nature of Luftwaffe bombing raids as the war progressed.

The map shows when and where the first bombs dropped. At 1.00am the Luftwaffe bombers were over Leyton and five minutes later they were over Walthamstow. © National Archives

Another explanation may be found in the fact that the Leyton/Walthamstow map plots the bombs dropped during a single raid whilst the central London map gives a general overview of a two-week period.

When plotting the street locations a full round dot is used to show phosphorous or ‘incendiary’ bombs, whilst unexploded bombs are indicated using a hollow circle.

High explosive bombs are marked with a red triangle. The annotation AB is also shown in the margin – perhaps this refers to an 'aerial bomb' or an 'air burst'?

shows a close up of a black and white street map with various lines and red marks on it

Although bomb locations were plotted using military maps rather than standard Ordnance Survey, by taking a walk with a modern OS Map or A-Z it is possible to find the locations of the bomb sites plotted on the maps.

In residential areas look out for differences in architecture and building materials - these may indicate where a house or building has been rebuilt after bomb damage. Some former residential areas of the East End are now parkland or squares - the bomb damage being so severe that rebuilding work was never undertaken.

Central London - A Bomb Map plotting activity over a two week period during the height of the London Blitz

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