Ada Magnus

Ada and her friend Doreen were watching a film in The Rex cinema in Bethnal Green Road when the air-raid siren sounded. They immediately made their way out of the cinema and parted outside - Ada to her nearby home where she joined her family in their shelter. The following morning Ada heard that Doreen and her mother had died on the steps of Bethnal Green underground shelter.


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Bethnal Green Disaster

Catalogue Number:



Ada Magnus


Philip and Amy

Date of Interview:

28 January 2014



Length of interview:

25 minutes

Any other info:









































Introduction, Description of Ada's childhood and family background. She hardly attended school until she was fourteen, when she left school to work.


Ada remembers being bombed out for the first time. She and her sister found shelter with relatives for a while.


At fourteen, Ada started working as a machinist. She describes how several of her friends and colleagues died in the Bethnal Green tube disaster. She was attending a film screening that night.


After the film, Ada went home and later went to an air raid shelter, while some of her friends ended up going to the tube station. Ada didn't hear about what had happened until the next day.


Ada can't remember much about the days before the disaster. She recalls going to the shelter frequently, windows covered in cardboard, and queuing up for rations. She also recalls getting some good on the black market.


She is aware of the guns stationed in Barmy Park around the time of the disaster and that they are assumed to have caused the noise that started the disaster.


After the disaster, Ada moved on with life. She describes her relationship with a young pilot who also died. She also remembers a pub that was later destroyed by bombs.


Ada never had to identify any of the bodies, and turned down the offer to see her friend Doreen for a last time.


She speaks about her family history in cabinet making.


Ada tells a story about going to the Bingo and running into her brother's friend and how they had been affected by the disaster.


She remembers a row of little shops, including a fish and chip shop, that no longer exist. She speaks about how people were scattered and relocated as a result of the war, and she lost touch with many.