DOWNHILLS SHELTER TRAGEDY                                             SEPT-1940

  IN MEMORY OF  ROBERT SPIRE

 

My grandparents, Robert and Norah Kathleen (Kit) Spire, along with one of their daughters, Grace, were in the shelter on the night of the tragedy and were living nearby at 9 Higham Road,Tottenham.  I was told that Robert was standing near the door and was killed by the blast, while Kit and Grace, who were injured, were taken to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Tottenham.  I still have the War Casualty hospital cards for my Grandmother Norah Spire and her daughter Grace, one of which mentions that they were injured at "Lordship Recreation Ground" at a "bombed shelter".

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I understand that Bob was standing near the door of the shelter and was killed by the blast, although it seems that he could not have been killed outright, as he was taken to hospital: I'm not sure about this, what do you think? I have attached a copy of his death certificate. I am not sure whether the other daughters and sons were in the shelter with them. The following is a synopsis of the information I was given many years ago by my late father, Thomas Spire:

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I thought you might like some more background about him, because it seems ironic that he went through all the horrors of the First World War, only to be killed so close to home, although I'm sure this was quite common. I am attaching a photograph of Robert (Bob) when he was 20 when his family lived in Durham Road (Now Kitchener Road): from my researches I understand he was in the regular army before the First World War, completed his time and then a few months later was called up again in 1914 (see group photograph with arrow pointing to Bob, second from right, standing). I believe he was wounded and stranded in "no man's land" for some days before he was rescued. I also have a small round tin that has been smashed into by a bullet - I have the bullet as well - that apparently killed one man before hitting the tin in Bob's pocket. He became a postman after the First World War and my father told me he was a very quiet sort of man. He had already applied to be a postman when he first left the Army prior to commencement of WW1: this was quite common for ex-servicemen.

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Robert Spire aged 20 years.

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Robert Spire - Army photograph WW1- Robert standing 2nd right back row.

George Spire was another one of their sons and my father, Thomas, was in the army in North Africa at the time: I am also attaching the telegram which my father received when he was in the army, in the Middle East at the time and he spoke with some bitterness about receiving the telegram. The telegram is dated February 1941, some 5 months after his father had died, with no indication how he had died and that his mother and sister had also suffered injuries.

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Commonwealth War Graves -Certificate

The other comment I remember my father mentioning, was that Bob Spire was the only postman to be killed in Tottenham during the war.

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Prepared from collected notes received from Rosalie Spire -2009

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