Fifteen-year-old Eric was out looking for his air-raid warden father who had not returned home from the cinema as expected. At Bethnal Green station Eric realised something dreadful had happened. Knowing many people had died, he wrote a story which he phoned through to the Daily Mail. He had no idea his father was one of those who met their death on the steps of the underground.
Read the interview SUMMARY online below, or click on the icon to read or download: eric linden 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: eric linden TRANSCRIPT.pdf
You can listen to the recorded INTERVIEW below:
Amy Murphy, Philip Sunshine
Date of Interview:
10 December 2013
Length of interview:
Any other info:
Introductions. Eric was born in Finsbury Park, but moved to Bethnal Green as a young child. He recalls his childhood there, particularly navigating the local gang culture, including the 'blackshirts' led by Mosley.
Eric speaks about the beginning of the war, when he and his siblings were evacuated and spent several years in the countryside in Somerset.
Eric moves back to London when he was fifteen years old.
On the night of the tube disaster, Eric's father, who was an air raid warden, went to the cinema near Bethnal Green station. When he failed to return home, Eric searched for him at the cinema and came across the Bethnal Green disaster on his way home, not knowing his father was actually inside the crush.
Eric wrote up an account of the events and sent it to his employer, the Daily Mail, in an attempt to get it published. The paper followed up on the incident, but was unable to publish the account due to a government injunction.
A heavily edited version of the story was covered by London media, and Eric's account wasn't confirmed until the 1960s.
Shortly after, Eric joined the Air Force. His memories of this time are unhappy.
After that, he became a sports reporter, specialising in speedway and ice hockey reporting. He speaks about a boxing bout he remembers covering, and about his passion for speedway. He became assistant editor, then editor, of a monthly speedway magazine.
When speedway lost the public's interest and Eric was no longer able to support his family that way, he found a job with a different paper called TV Times, reporting on current programmes on ITV. He speaks at length about climbing the career ladder with the TV Times, and establishing a new system for information gathering among the various independent companies that contributed to ITV.
Back to the Bethnal Green tube disaster: Eric speaks about how the causes and the true course of events were whitewashed. As he pieced together afterwards, there had been attempts to make the station safer, but without success.
Eric speaks about the memorial that is being built, and regrets that it is too late for most survivors to see it.
He discusses the rumours blaming the Jews for causing the disaster.