Michael Callaghans' Story
Like most people who sat for the 11 plus old scholarship I did not pass. No wonder,
missing school for about 3 years I think the evacuation was the reason for this.
I left school and went to work in a factory in Old Town Clapham that made
electric motors. I was in the section the made brakes for lift motors, I didn't
stay there long then went to work for a factory which did work for the food
machines. One of the my jobs was sharpening bread slicing machines I stayed there
until I was 18, then went into RAF national service. I stayed in for 5 years.
Then I went to work for the Metropolitan Police (civil staff). I stayed there for
37 years in different department until I retired in 1993. I came to the U.S.A. in
We used to go to the Underground with blankets, food and drink
and find somewhere to sleep for the night. People would lay
on the platform leaving a narrow gap along the platform about
2 ft. 6 inches from the edge for people to get on and off the trains.
One night a train came in and went out to Balham then it
returned back into the station (on the same line) and
unloaded. Then some underground staff came down with high
boots on (like the ones used for fishing) and went into
the tunnel. After a while they came back and we had were told
to leave the station because a bomb had hit Balham tube station
and water was coming in.
We left the station, I don't know what time it was as the trains
were still running, (it must have been before midnight ) anyway
an air raid was still on it and it was dark, only flashes from the
guns lit up our way as we walked along the road to make our way home.
After a time a policeman stopped us and asked us where were we going
Upon telling him what had happened he said, no way, there were shops
near were he stopped us, so he broke one open and told us to
go in and shelter there until the raid was over.
Next morning after we had been home we went to see the bomb crater in
the road at Balham , there was a bus down the hole.
When the bomb broke through the roof of the tube it also
broke a large pipe that carried a river above the station
and the road; as a result after a while the water started to run into the
tube station. The station staff had to close the watertight doors
to stop the rest of the system being flooded.
As a result, it also shut in some people the ones who could
not get out and they all drowned. Since like all the stations on
the underground all you did to get in for the night was buy
a platform ticket, no one knew how many people were in the tube system
on any given night or how many people died at Balham.
After this and other events where people were killed, the authorities
started to put bunk bed on the station platform so they knew
how many persons were in the tube at night.
At first, the government didn't want the underground system used
as shelters but people took no notice and used it anyway