Marie Reid

Marie Reid lost her grandmother in the disaster. She was 13 at the time and has vivid memories of the funeral arrangements and the terrible impact the shock had on her mother and uncle.

You can listen to the recording below. Under the player is a summary of the interview, which you can download here marie reid summary.pdf

Click on the icon to read or download the complete TRANSCRIPT: marie reid transcript.pdf




Marie Reid


Barbara Humphries, Joy Puritz


Date of Interview:

3 July 2014



Length of interview:


Any other info:































































Summary: (Part 1)


 Born 1929, 13th of October. Marie was an only child, father worked at hospital in Bethnal Green, mother was a housewife (they were also caretakers of a doctor's house). Marie was a patient in the fever hospital for three months and could wave to her parents who lived directly opposite. She moved to Gidea Park; she went on holidays to Ilfracombe and her father had a motorbike and sidecar.


Marie describes her impressions of Gidea Park (Essex) and the difference in air, fields and moving details. The new house suffered war damage and he father feared it had been structurally damaged and the moved again in 1945. She describes school at Gidea Park.


Marie was nine when war broke out, father was in Navy reserve and was called up; Marie remembers people talking in gardens when war announced on radio. Father lost an eye and fingers and was smuggled out of war zone by Norwegian sailors. He was then invalided out of Navy and lived at home. Their shelter was full of water and he was too ill to make it ready. Marie had a grandmother still living in Bethnal Green. She was bombed out three times. She lived alone and used to play the piano at parties. She lost a three year old son in a fire caused by Christmas tree candles.


Her grandmother didn’t use the underground shelter, instead she would sit under the stairs or go to a communal shelter. On the night of the disaster she was meeting her youngest son who was on leave, along with this wife. They met him at a bus stop in Bethnal Green. Then the rockets went off and they went down to the shelter. Marie discusses the issue of new rockets and lack of warning. Johnny, the son and wife survived but had bruising and crushed breasts. But her grandmother slid off Jonny’s arm and suffocated.


Marie was in Gidea Park at this time. She describes finding out about her grandmother’s death, going to her home the next day and her body being layed out in the front room for a long time until the funeral arrangements could be made. There were delays because so many had to be arranged. Her mother was ill for many months afterwards. Johnny refused to obey orders and was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but he was diagnosed with shock, was invalided out and became a milkman. He used to take his horse into the shelter with him.


Her mother had to identify the body in St John’s crypt; Marie says she can’t visit the site as she imagines how awful it was. Her mother said there were babies and it was heartbreaking.


Marie mentions the aerial landmine that damaged her house in Gidea Park; evacuation to Scotland in 1944 to stay with father’s friends. When she returned to Kings Cross a big explosion went off.


Marie remembers that the Petticoat Lane traders didn’t insist on taking coupons for black (mourning) clothing. The funeral was over a week to arrange. She remembers all the homes having closed curtains in Bethnal Green to signify they had lost somebody.

She goes on to describe her grandmother getting bombed out earlier in the war.


After the war Marie’s father moves to Herne Hill as her father got a job at Brentwood Hospital. For a time he managed a pub (Bush Hotel), but she stayed with her mother in Gidea Park until moving to Herne Hill at the end of the war. She ran a pub and a hotel at Hadley Woods; taught dancing (Bush Davies school) and performed in pantomime and a film.


Marie discusses the lives of her relatives (uncles) after the war. Her grandmother had six boys, but two died (one at birth, another at three). Her husband died at 41; he used to work at Billingsgate and looked after horses in WW1.


Marie says she went to a memorial service and it has helped to talk about it.