Article from Barking and Dagenham Post 11th October 2014
January 14, 1945, saw the destruction of St Paul’s Church in Ripple Road, Barking, by a German V2 rocket. Local history expert Tony Richards looks back at the disaster and forward to its anniversary.
After the rubble was removed, services continued to be conducted within the ruined walls of the church. In 1955 the site became that of St Margaret’s Church Hall. In 1992 it was taken over by the council as Ripple Hall, with a plaque on the wall facing Erkenwald Road commemorating the destruction of the church and the deaths of so many worshippers.
It bore the names of Robert Galley, church warden, and the rector of St Margaret’s (later Bishop of Barking) Canon Frank Chadwick. That plaque was removed when the hall was revamped in 2010, but has now been put back up in the lobby.
Earlier in the war, as V1 rockets were being launched, British newspapers had reported they were landing "to the north of London". The Germans, reading the papers, adjusted their aim by cutting back on each rocket’s fuel, and many rockets then landed short of their targets – in Kent and Sussex, to the displeasure of our friends in those counties.
So, in announcing the Barking disaster in 1945, the wartime defence ministry was careful to play down its severity and to say only that a rocket had landed on a church somewhere "in southern England". They did not want to help the Germans refine their aim by letting them know where their rockets were landing.
The Barking Advertiser’s graphic account (January 20, 1945) of the St Paul’s bombing read: "Just after a service had been concluded and the congregation was leaving a bomb fell on a church which was almost completely demolished, and on the wooden church hall beside it. Nothing remained except rubble.
"As the congregation were leaving the priest-
"While the work was in progress anxious relatives were seeking information about those who they believed had attended the service. Other workers in the meantime engaged in endeavouring to recover church valuables and succeeded in saving, almost undamaged, the altar, furniture and drapings, although the altar had been submerged in debris."
The name of the priest-