At 9.26pm on 26 December 1944, the V2 rocket missile exploded at the junction of Mackenzie and Chalfont Roads. Over 340 people were casualties, which included 73 deaths and 86 suffering from sever injuries. 20 buildings were destroyed or damaged beyond repair.
The rocket was launched from Belgium towards London and took les than 20 minutes to reach this location. It hit without warning, causing a crater 9 metres wide and 4.5 metres deep. Water pipes and gas mains were cut and the local sewer system broken. The crater quickly filled up with water and basements of nearby houses were flooded and escaping gas caught fire in numerous places. The evening was extremely foggy and thick smoke from several fires made visibility more difficult, hindering the already hazardous rescue efforts.
The traumatic impact of this attack was felt by many survivors. Some families suffered significant losses of life or homes. One family living opposite the Prince of Wales public house lost seven children and another family, celebrating an engagement, lost five of its members.
This aerial photo was taken April 1945. To help you understand this photograph: The large park-like area at the top is St Mary Magdalene Garden. At the top right is a row of houses showing 6 or 7 back addition blocks. These houses still run along the southern side of Sheringham Road. The road opposite this row, running towards the camera, is Chalfont Road. Half-way down the left hand edge is a curved road - this is the northern end of Liverpool Road as it approaches Holloway Road. The road running from Liverpool Road across the photo towards the right is Mackenzie Road.
This 1895 map shows the pub on what was then St James's Road. It was on the south side of the road (facing the camera), on the block nearest the right hand side of the photo. Counting from the right (west) it was the 7th building on that block.
The Islington Gazette has a good article about this event.
This incident caused the largest loss of civilian life in Islington in WW2 and has an entry in the online Islington Book of Remembrance.