Gun site, Mitcham Common

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Date Photo Taken 1st January 0001
Partial / Incomplete Date c.1961
Area Mitcham
Picture Reference Mit_​War_​5-2
Original Format Photo
Notes / History This site off the Carshalton Road, to the south of Mitcham, was one of a number of sites placed strategically around London as part of the city’s defence during the second world war. This site was chosen by the War Office as the London Borough of Merton was close to Croydon Airport and therefore particularly vulnerable to enemy attack.

The site was a massive installation and Pamela Starling, a local resident who was nearly 13 years old on the outbreak of war, recalled living nearby. Initially she and her cousin had been evacuated to Scotland but as there were no air raids to start with they were brought back to Mitcham. However, it wasn’t long before the air-raids began and Mitcham in particular was very badly hit:

“At the height of these air-raids … my mother and I would get into the cupboard under the stairs or under the dining room table which was where we were when we had an almost direct hit. My father, who was in the Home Guard, had just come in, parked the car outside the door and a bomb fell demolishing the car and house completely… My mother was hit on the head and was taken to the local hospital nearby. I was taken to the house of a school friend by her father who was a friend of my father in the Home Guard. We had to walk alongside the Common to their house and I remember having to wear a tin hat because of all the falling shrapnel. The bomb killed all my pet rabbits in their hutch in the garden and our canary” (Merton Historical Society local history notes 23)

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