Construction of the Central Line’s eastern extension was started in the 1930s, and the tunnels were largely complete at the outbreak of the Second World War. While some stretches were used as underground factories, with the advent of the Blitz, Bethnal Green station was used as an air-raid shelter, unofficially at first, and then with official blessing.
By 1943, the numbers using the station as a shelter had dwindled, only rising when retaliatory bombing in response to Royal Air Force raids was expected. This was the case on 3 March 1943, as the British press had reported a heavy RAF raid on Berlin on the night of 1 March. The air-raid Civil Defence siren sounded at 8:17 pm, causing an orderly flow of people down the short flight of steps into the underground booking office area. At 8:27, an anti-aircraft battery a few hundred yards away in Victoria Park launched a salvo of a new type of anti-aircraft rocket. The weapon was secret and the unexpected, unfamiliar sound of the explosion caused a panic and mass hysteria. As the crowd surged forward towards the shelter, a woman tripped on the stairs, causing many others to fall. Within a few seconds 300 people were crushed into the tiny stairwell. 172 people died at the scene, with one more dying in hospital later; 62 of the dead were children.
Just sayin’ is all.