JOHN Read was five, of Central Avenue, when a paramine wiped out the street where he grew up, killing nine, demolishing houses and instantly blinding his friend’s father.

Here John, now 80, and his childhood friends of seventy-five years, give their eyewitness accounts of the impact on Corringham Road of one of Germany’s most deadly weapons.

Used by the Luftwaffe during the blitz, paramines were landmines attached to parachutes that did most damage by hitting rooves.

On April 8, 1941, one such deadly bomb drifted down from the sky before lightly settling on the overhead phone wires at the junction of Corringham Road and Burgess Avenue.

Olga Burrell’s father, Walter Whipps, a refinery worker at Shell, was disturbed by a strange whispering sound.

Going to the window, he was hit by the full force of the explosion, with both his eyes instantly blown out. Olga’s aunt Alfreda Newton, also lost her life.

There were other families who didn’t make it to the shelter in time. Shirley Davison, then Lewis, of Corringham Road, described a “whooshing” sound as they tried to make it to the shelter.

She said: “Our house was shaking and moving as if it were alive. There was a great shudder. Terrified we crept along the hall as the house began to fall down around us. As soon as we reached the road, our home crumbled to the ground.”

Looking around, she said: “There was debris and people everywhere, some wounded and bleeding, others lying very still. People were crying and calling out for their families, many of whom were buried in the rubble.

“Strangely, I wasn’t frightened.”

John Read’s grandfather Alfred Read, a horseman, who was sleeping on the living room sofa at the front of the house on Burgess Avenue, made a miraculous escape when the living room door blew off and landed on him, protecting him from the blast.

And the experiences had not ended. Olga, now 78, had an uncanny moment forty years later when she met a local school caretaker Len Snell.

Len had been on the street after the hit and found a man sitting in the rubble with his hands over his face, a burst water main gushing all around him and his eyes blown out. He helped him.

Olga said: “When he told me I felt a sense of horror and recognition, and said, ‘Len, that was my Dad.’ Walter, who went on to become a telephonist, “never showed any bitterness” according to daughter Olga.

Mr Read and other residents have banded together to fund a granite memorial at the junction of Corringham Road and Burgess Avenue, with support from Peter Carter, A&T Builders, LEBrand, Coe Fabrication and Stanford-leHope Blooming Marvels.

A ceremonial dedication of the memorial will also take place on Saturday April 9, at 2.30pm.

A booklet on the incident called A Small Part of the History of Stanford-le-Hope by John Read is on sale for £1 from various SLH bookshops, proceeds towards the memorial.