Joan was five years old in 1943, her sister Babs was two years older. For safety their mother had left them with their grandparents in Chelmsford where she visited at weekends. With the Blitz over, their mother decided to take the girls back to Bethnal Green. When they heard the siren that first week at home, Babs and her older cousins rushed to the tube shelter. She died in the crush on the steps.
You can listen to the recorded INTERVIEW below.
Read the interview SUMMARY online below, or click on the icon to read or download: Joan Foster SUMMARY.pdf
The summary gives timed sections which direct you to specific parts of the recording.
Click on the icon to read or download the complete TRANSCRIPT: Joan Foster TRANSCRIPT.pdf
Barbara Humphries and Joy Puritz
Date of Interview:
4 February 2014
Length of interview:
23 minutes, 32 seconds
Any other info:
JF: discusses her family life before and during the war, what her father did and where her aunt lived. How many siblings she had etc.
JF: discusses going to Chelmsford to visit grandparents instead of being evacuated.
JF: remembers how her mother described the rations and going in and out of the air raids.
JF: describes how Bethnal Green station wasn’t yet built and so wasn’t in use as a station, just an air raid.
JF: remembers the destruction of the East End. People coming out of air raids to find their houses collapsed.
JF: discusses building of flats instead of houses after the war
JF: starting school
JF: left Bethnal Green in ’59 when she got married and work life prior to that
I: Did people talk about what happened back in Bethnal Green? JF: No.
JF: what her father did after the war
JF: Most children were evacuated, but JF and her sister were not. JF’s mother never forgave herself for bringing the two girls from Chelmsford back to Bethnal Green that weekend.
JF: Describes how her sister ended up in the station and JF and her mother did not. How her mother found out what happened. How her uncle found the bodies. How it was hushed up to make sure morale was not lowered.
I: questions how it was not spoken about
JF: everyone’s grief and told not to speak about it
JF: her parents told her grandparents but no one spoke about it.
JF: how her mother was affected, not going into shelters etc.
JF: the station was finished after the war
JF: describes the support her mother was given by the Salvation Army after the disaster
JF: The RAF flew her father down from Scotland on finding out
JF: No news or publicity because it would lower morale
JF: describes how no one spoke about it at school
JF: remembers her parents moving to Dagenham and the mover remembering the disaster, so people did know.
JF: younger brother being born, bringing new life to the family.
JF: describes her only concrete memories of Bethnal Green
JF: left Bethnal Green in ’59. Divorced now.
JF: Parents left Bethnal Green for Harlow when JF had children
JF: Her son took her to the 50th memorial. JF drives to visit Ruth. Her children know they would have had an aunt.
JF: How she learnt about the Bethnal Green Memorial Project. How she reconnected with Ruth after 50 years. Pete, her cousin, met the policeofficer who pulled him from the rubble.
JF: Other people from Bethnal Green now in Harlow, also raising money
JF: Acknowledges that the disaster did impact her life, more so now as she’s in contact with Ruth.