Second World War
 

Despite her hopes for peace, war had to be faced again. It was down to Daisy as chair of Education Committee to organise the evacuation of the children of the borough.

Stratford Express Autumn 1939

This meeting saw the conclusion of Alderman Mrs Parsons tenure of office as chairman of the [Education] committee. On vacating the mayoralty she took on the next busiest and most important job in the corporate life of the borough. For two years she had carried it out with the same zeal and energy as she displayed while Mayor, so that for three consecutive years she had devoted herself almost exclusively to the service of the town.

It fell to her lot unfortunately to usher the children out of the borough but when dawns the happy day of their return, whoever may be the chairman of the Education committee both they and their parents will value her welcome probably beyond any.

 

She remained behind to help organise the Women's Voluntary Service

Letter from M Anderson to Daisy Parsons relating the events in West Ham from September to October 1940:

95 The Grove

Stratford

London E15

21.10.40

My dear Mrs. Parsons,

Where shall I begin to tell you even half the tale of events since that night at Beckton Road and the very heavy day you had there on the Saturday?

It seems years ago – yet it is only just over six weeks.

On the Sunday we had every one of our 15 centres open and in addition there were about 1000 people at Plaistow secondary who had walked out of Silvertown.

Then we had to improvise other places for homeless people or those from delayed action bombs at all the following places;

Upton Lane 300 Russell Central 150

Upton Cross 150 Gainsborough Road 300

Knox Road 200 Prince Regents Lane 100

Mun Colleges 200 Custom House 100

Tennyson Road 150

Napier Road 350

I seemed to be rushing food about everywhere.

Then all the gas failed and it was another rush to install as many electric wash boilers as the electricity committee could let us have.

These were not anything like adequate but they did enable us to make hot tea and hot stews.

There was a general clamour for evacuation and we could not get the ministry to move quick enough with the result that we had the tragedy of South Hallsville.

I had been there only at 8 pm on the night it happened and was hoping our luck would hold until the morning as both Frederick Road and South Hallsville were being used. We persuaded many people to return to their own homes and shelters, but until then they felt safer in the school shelter. Do you remember that one? It was a corridor in the double decker building - the one Miss Wilkinson used to occupy.

The incident was grossly exaggerated in certain papers, but it was a frightful thing.

I went down again after it had happened – got there before 6 am and helped with tea and sandwiches both for the people – the rescue squads, wardens. Police etc. I have never seen so many men break down. It was heartrending.

By 10 A. M. most of the people had been taken away by bus but after that it was an unending stream of workers needing tea etc.

I shall never forget it.

West Silvertown kitchen was put Out of action on the Saturday night – also Storey Street. We have been unable to use West Silvertown since but we salvaged some of our stores. Storey Street is now running as a communal kitchen - though the food is not cooked there but carried down in heated containers.

We have also had damage - fairly serious - at our Hermit Road kitchen, at Tennyson Road, at the Municipal Colleges and at Beckton Road.

In the beginning the centre at the latter place was not very badly hurt but I heard today there has been a hit again and I have not had time to go and see the damage and find out whether we can redeem it again. In addition we had damage done at Odessa, at Upton Lane, and Upton Cross but at all these places we fortunate in that only the evening before in each case we had moved the people out.

For all the first ten days or fortnight I was snatching sleep when I could - a few minutes at a time at the ARP Headquarters - then I felt completely done in so I put a camp bed in the office.

My own nice flat was damaged on Monday September 10th. 21 received the blast from the Great Ormond Street bomb and was covered in glass and soot.

I had no time to see to it - doors were blown off and window frames wrenched out.

It has been boarded up and the doors put back and I had a woman sweep up the soot but last week it had another dose, and I have not been able to have it cleaned up yet.

This week - however- a friend whose flat has been damaged much more than mine came to West Ham to get my keys so that she could put some of her things in it as well. She literally took her life in her hands when she went into her own place to bring things out, and finally had to give up when she was threatened with a £300 fine for entering a dangerous structure.

You will be interested to hear that we have communal kitchens running at;

1. Water Lane

2. Three Mills

3. Holbrook

4. Balaam Street

5. New City Road

6. Shipman Road (This is being worked chiefly by

7. Gainsborough Road helpers of Mrs. R Of

8. St Luke's (Boyd Inst) Mission)

(at this place we cook the food at S Hallsville and take it round in heated containers) They serve about 300-350 dinners per day.

In addition we have been helping the Central Mission. They do the work but we supply them with about 100 hot dinners daily, and provisions for tea and breakfasts.

Some of these go to homeless people and some are sold at 6d like the communal centres.

In much of this work I have had lots of help from Miss Mitchell but I'm afraid I shall be having to do without her again soon as Miss Bolt is leaving at the end of this week and Mrs Jardine talks of using Miss Mitchell in her place.

We are trying to do a bit now for the people in shelters and for some days we have had a mobile canteen visit some of them between 8 and 10 pm, and again after 5 am - but sometimes it has been necessary to wait until the early morning all clear goes.

I have missed popping in to see you and having a chat.

I have passed the house several times and knocked to see if anyone was at home.

It looks so forlorn. The upper part of the street is not fit for human habitation at all. That district was very heavily hit and very few people seem to be left in it.

Many friends have asked after you and several want to know if we are going to be able to procure more wool for knitting this winter.

We have got a very good store of comforts but have not sent any out for about a month. I feel we must get some off soon but we ought to have more addresses revised and I'm wondering if we ought to mention something to this effect in the Stratford Express.

I will not do anything about it until I hear from you.

Please excuse the bad writing but when I want to do a long letter in a hurry my mind travels much more quickly than my hand and I know I leave some letters out of some words.

Thank you for your p. c. which took almost a week in transit and which I did not answer at the time thinking that you would be back. Then I destroyed it and could not get your address again for sometime.

I meant to write weeks ago but I've had such long days there all private letters have had to be put off.

I do hope you are feeling better.

You had not really recovered your strength after that nasty illness at the beginning of the year and then that awful night after having been subjected to blast from a bomb yourself – then all that Saturday’s hard work and worry and the news at night about the Abbey Depot would have been enough to completely finish off an ordinary person. I know how you must regret not being in the district at a time like this but there will be tons for you to do when you are well enough to return.

I sincerely hope that that time will not be far distant though I realize you could not come back and live in Ravenscroft Road at present. You would be asking for trouble – as the houses would not be safe and the shelter is not fit for you in cold weather.

I have been asked whether I can do anything about hostels for young girls left behind and for men who are on their own but I cannot think of suitable buildings and I feel I have enough to look after at present - though I know the need is great.

Since Sunday October 13th we are feeding military in addition to all the ARP and the Shelters. They are delighted with their meals.

They are at both the Central Schools and are threatening to take my cooks (abduct them) when they return to their own quarters.

Their meals are similar to those we have been serving to ARP all the year but the later are never satisfied;

With love to you and hoping to hear from you soon,

Very sincerely yours

M Anderson.

 

Daisy's family did not escape tragedy during this destructive period in West Ham's history.

Two newspaper cuttings from 1945

Mr Parsons commended

Mrs R S Parsons of 94 Ravenscroft Road, Canning Town, husband of Alderman Mrs Parsons JP has been commended by the King and gazetted for his gallant services at a London electricity generating station during an air raid in September. He had received letters of congratulation from the electricity commissioners and the electrical engineer of the Stepney Borough Council.

Woman Alderman bereaved

A number of houses were demolished and others suffered superficial blast damage when a V Bomb fell on a row of houses near a popular dance hall. Many people were buried beneath the debris and a number lost their lives.

Among those killed were Mr Millo and his 12 year old daughter Jean, the brother and niece respectively of a woman member of the local council.

Last update: 1st May 2007