The Day A Bomb Fell On The Pitch At Upton Park

The Day A Bomb Fell On The Pitch At Upton Park

As West Ham United have moved to the Olympic Stadium in 2016, we took a look at one of the lesser-known chapters of the club's history at The Boleyn Ground, also known as Upton Park.

Bomb damage to the West Stand. Photo courtesy of Steve Marsh of theyflysohigh.co.uk

August 1944: The East End was under heavy fire from above, and local football team West Ham United wasn't immune — as it found out when a V-1 flying bomb (also known as a doodlebug) hit the south west corner of the pitch.

The bomb destroyed a large amount of the South Bank Terrace (now known as the Bobby Moore Stand) and the end of the Main West Stand.

South Bank Terrace bomb damage. Photo courtesy of Steve Marsh of theyflysohigh.co.uk

No one died, but the damage was significant enough that West Ham had to vacate their ground.

They played 14 away games while repairs were made, returning to the Boleyn Ground in December 1944.

The bomb also caused a fire in the Club's offices, which destroyed many historical documents and records.

But while the incident might seem unlucky, the team managed nine away wins on nine consecutive Saturdays during the time that they were displaced.

West Ham United wasn't the only team to have its ground damaged as a result of the war, as this newspaper clipping shows. Unlike Hartlepool however, it didn't try to claim damages from the German government.

Article from The People, 27 August 1944. Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of The British Library Board.

As this Imperial War Museum photo shows, much damage was done to the residential streets in the area, including Boleyn and Priory Roads. The bottom right corner of the photo is one corner of the Boleyn Ground.

© IWM (CH 15111)

See another photo of the damage here.

Last Updated 04 October 2017

Tube Geek

I never knew about this - thanks!

Thomas Hancock

Good stuff. Intersection of history and football, my favorite.

Dick the Hammer

One point of interest: on the left side of the first photo in the distance you can just see the old Boleyn Castle. The Boleyn Ground takes its name from this structure on Green Street (16th Century in origin) and it accounts for the castle behind the crossed hammers on the West Ham badge. It was demolished in 1955 after it became structurally unsound. You can read more in Charles Korr's history of the club: West Ham United.