Christina appears on all census living at home with her parents right up to 1901 and then, after her mother died in 1908, is also on the 1911 census with her father, who is now "manager of bank", living in the High Street at Southend-on-Sea in Essex. As you can see from the copy census above, her sister, Gertrude Pattie Friend, and her sister's daughter, Christine Chatterton Friend, were also there.
It isn't known how they came to move back to the outskirts of London but, by January 1945, the two sisters, both now in their 70's, were living at 42 Gordon Road in Wanstead along with Gertrude's 37 year old daughter. Also living in the house were Lilian and Muriel Phillips, both devout Quakers and anti-war pacifists.
Up until the beginning of 1945 Wanstead had come off comparatively lightly from the V-1 and V-2 rockets but in January it had already suffered the death of 18 when a V2 rocket fell about a mile away. If you want to read more about the V2 rocket please click here and read my blog on the subject.
The deaths I was particularly interested in were those at number 42. How sad, Christine, her sister and niece had all died in the same incident. The deaths were obviously connected so I decided I would try to find out as much about what happened on 26th January 1945 as I could.
It seems at 06.19 in the early morning a V-2 rocket was fired from somewhere on the Continent and at 06.24, probably when the occupants were still asleep, it hit. Official sources record that it killed 17, there were 6 injured and 27 slightly injured. The incident was not recorded in the local newspaper, perhaps due to censorship.
We know the rocket fell on 26th January but my ancestor's death certificate says "dead body found 27th January". After receiving the file with photos of the bomb damage from the National Archives, it is hardly surprising that it took them a day to dig her body out. The photographs are shocking and show the full 'horror of the incident (see below).
I checked the Voters Register for 1945 and it shows the four who died at number 42 as being registered to vote but in addition there is also a Muriel Phillips who was listed to vote. I was interested to find out whether she was in the house at the time and somehow 'cheated' death.
I contacted someone who had her on their Ancestry tree and received a lot of background information about her two 'Phillips' ancestors on the Register. It seems Lilian was a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, a piano teacher and contralto chorister, while Muriel worked for the BBC. Lilian was also a member of the Fire Guard Service which probably involved watching for incendiary bombs dropping in the immediate vicinity and dealing with them as best she could.
Amazingly, I was told, Muriel Phillips was in the house and a wardrobe fell across her bed, protecting her from the falling masonry and all the rubble. She was the only occupant of the house who survived. A miracle given the total destruction around her.
A final thought. We all remember those who died serving their country during the War but sometimes the civilian 'collateral damage', as it is now known, is forgotten. Hopefully I have rectified this to a small extent.