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V2 rocket killed 19 on my street

 
Created on 06/05/2020 @ 10:45
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A local entrepreneur has been recalling his close encounter with death just six weeks before Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) on May 8, 1945, the 75th anniversary of which will be celebrated on Friday.

Peter Webber, 83, founder and chairman of multi-award- winning cancer diagnosis equipment specialist CellPath in Newtown, was just nine years old when the penultimate V2 rocket launched by Germany exploded in the road where he and his family lived in Stanmore, Middlesex on March 23, 1945.

Nineteen people were killed in the explosion, including Peter’s uncle, Walter, aunt Florence and cousins Ronnie and Primrose Webber who had taken refuge in an Anderson air raid shelter in their back garden. Cousin Maisie, who was 18 at the time, was the only survivor in her family.

Peter’s family house was the only one of five duplexes in the road that survived without a loss of life. “I was nine at the time and remember being carried down a ladder to waiting members of the Salvation Army,” he said.

“It was one of the last acts of vengeance by the Germans considering it was so close to the end of the war in Europe. The Germans fired 3,500 rockets at Britain during the war.

“I remember collecting shrapnel on the way to school. My father ran the tool inspection department at de Havilland Aircraft Company at Burnt Oak, having been seconded to industry from the RAF.”

Peter’s family, father William, mother Dorothy and sisters Pauline and Pearl, lived at 262 Uppingham Avenue, Stanmore whilst his aunt, uncle and cousins lived at 266. Ten houses were destroyed in the rocket attack, which left Peter and his family needing to be rehoused.

The Webber family and other local civilians killed during the Second World War are remembered in a civilian war memorial garden in Harrow Weald Cemetery.

After spending three months living with an aunt in Kent, Peter and Pauline returned to their new family home. Pearl stayed with her parents as she was just one-year-old at the time.

Earlier in the war, the children had been evacuated to Pontllanfraith in South Wales, where they lived with their grandfather.

Peter, who lives in Berriew, admits he has lived a “charmed life”. He went on to qualify as a chartered engineer and become a serial entrepreneur. CellPath, which is now run by his sons, Paul and Phillip, has a £10 million turnover and customers around the world.

His latest venture is XXO2Cell Ltd, which plans to manufacture hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers in Wales.

He did his National Service with the RAF at Bridgnorth and Blackpool between 1957-’59 and last year won the entrepreneur category at the Welsh Veterans Awards.

Pictures

·      Peter Webber

·      The rocket-damaged 262 Uppingham Avenue, Stanmore where Peter and his family fortunately survived the explosion.

·      Peter Webber as a six-year-old with his parents, William and Dorothy and sister, Pauline.

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