New Cross Woolworths V2 Rocket

V2 Rocket
On Saturday 25th November 1944 at 12.26 pm [only 2 weeks since the first V2 rocket hit London] at a busy shopping parade in New Cross a V2 rocket hit without warning destroying most of the parade [including the Woolworths and Co Op stores, now Iceland and New Cross Library] in the massive explosion 168 people lost their lives [24 were never identified] and 122 were injured.

The parade was bustling with shoppers and included a Woolworths store. The dead included Mothers with their children and the elderly as well as local people many came from outside the Borough.

It was a nice day, which was a change from the recent heavy rain and snow. As store [at Woolworths staff numbered 40 including Saturday girls and boys] and other local workers taking their lunch breaks, children returning from a swim at the local baths a V2 rocket hit the centre of the roof of Woolworths in New Cross Road, Deptford. After a moment's complete silence the walls bowed, and the building collapsed and exploded. Then the building caught fire.

In the ensuing hours local people helped the emergency services to lift the rubble by hand, and as it cleared the full horror was evident. 168 people dead, customers and shop workers, 122 passers-by injured and just one survivor.

This was not the highest casualty figure or most critical damage by a V2 rocket explosion. It was 567 deaths in a cinema in Antwerp and significant damage in the critically important Antwerp docks.

Names of those who died:
Click here for a list of those who died in this air raid

Plaque on site of incident

Other References: Blake, Lewis; Red Alert The Story of South East London At War, 1939 ā€“ 1945. Published by the Author, 1992
Blake, Lewis; Bolts from the Blue, S.E. London and Kent Under Vā€ Rocket Attack, Published by the Author, 1990
Deptford History Group, Remembering Woolworths.
Sunday Telegraph, 27 November, 1994. [now archived at []]

Do you have more information on this incident? admin2:contribute |If so click here to contribute information.]]]


by Local History and Archives Centre, Lewisham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License