It is tragic that the direct hit by a German High Explosive bomb on the Downhills shelter in Lordship Recreation Ground was responsible for the loss of so many lives and for the dreadful injuries, stress and trauma for both the survivors and relatives of the dead and injured. Obviously this was a very harrowing experience for everyone who lost family and friends on that day in September 1940. We have received a number of accounts of the events of that night and for many there were unfortunate circumstances, which caused them to use the shelter that night.  However for one family in particular it had a most devastating impact for seven of their family members were killed in the tragedy. 

We are fortunate to have been contacted by Gordon and Eve Martin who have been able to provide some more information on the events surrounding the deaths of the Martin family. It was the brothers of Gordon’s father, Sidney and Alfred Martin, who were in the shelter that night and they were quite a large family. The following persons lost their lives


Sidney Martin 38 39 Napier Road, Tottenham
Hilda Martin 34         Ditto
Hilda Mary Martin 2         Ditto
Alfred Martin 44 140 Clonmell Road, Tottenham
Emily Martin 44          Ditto
Laurie Martin 19          Ditto
William Martin 17          Ditto


They all died in the shelter tragedy apart from Emily Martin who was brought out injured but sadly died two months later.

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Sidney Martin with Daughter Mary - 1939

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Hilda Martin with daughter (Hilda) Mary - 1939

We now understand that the two brothers Alfred and Sidney and their families were due to go on holiday together the following day and that appears to be the reason the two families were together in the shelter that night. The following day Gordon’s Aunt (their Sister), was informed of the tragedy by Inspector Patterson of Tottenham Police Station who happened to be a friend and neighbour of hers. They also understood from this Aunt that all those killed in the shelter that night were taken to Tottenham Football Ground for formal identification. The graves of the two brothers and their families are side by side in Tottenham Cemetery. 

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Martin Family graves - Tottenham Cemetery

  (Not legible on this photograph but the inscription at the foot of the Headstone to the right reads 'Never Forgotten by their son Alfred)


We are also informed that there was an older son of Alfred and Emily Martin who did not go down the shelter that night, an Alfred Martin (named after his father) who could possibly have been in the forces. The only reason for thinking this is because on his parents gravestone there is a inscription --"Never forgotten by their son Alfred"

It is believed that the rest of the Martin Family never knew what eventually happened to young Alfred, which is so very sad.

The final part of this tragedy is that none of the Martin family, who perished in the Downhills Shelter, are listed on the memorial for Tottenham’s Civilian War Dead in Tottenham Cemetery. It is shameful that brave people should be overlooked in this way and we are determined to put the record straight.




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