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The letters  - 1940


Lowestoft saw no enemy action until the third week of June 1940 and the letters of A. J. Turner do not start until 28th November 1940, missing the first few acts of war against the town.

To fill this gap and to give you an idea of what was happening until the letters start I have 'borrowed' nine entries from 'Port War' and one from the 'Chronology of the War at Sea/Battle of the East Coast' (see Acknowledgements for details) which record the following:


Friday 21 June 1940

Port War: Yarmouth Road, Gunton and Gorleston Road: 2 HE bombs

Wednesday 03 July 1940

Port War: CWS Shops, Clapham Road, Alexandra Road, Rant Score, Stanley Street, Crown Meadow: 4 civilians killed, 23 civilians injured, 4 servicemen injured, 17 HE bombs

Sunday 21 July 1940

Port War: In the sea opposite Sparrow's Nest: 6 HE bombs

Wednesday 21 August 1940

Port War: Harvey, Wilson and Osborne's Shipyard, Belvedere Road, Jewson's Timber Yard: 6 civilians killed, 7 civilians injured, 12 HE bombs

Saturday 31 August 1940

Port War: Sparrow's Nest machine gunned

Friday 06 September 1940

Port War: Gunton Hall: 2 HE bombs

Sunday 29 September 1940

Port War: Battery Green Road, Waveney Road: 4 civilians killed, 8 servicemen killed, 8 civilians injured, 1 serviceman injured, 6 HE bombs

Monday 18 November 1940

Port War: Royal Avenue, Sussex Road, Somerton Avenue, ESCC Depot Pakefield, Skamacre Crescent: 2 civilians killed, 3 servicemen killed, 10 civilians injured, 21 servicemen injured, 13 HE bombs, 5 incendiary bombs

Tuesday/Wednesday 19-20 November 1940

War at Sea The 3rd German MTB Flotilla (Lt. Cdr. Kemnade) with three boats from the 1st Flotilla (S54, S57 and S38) are engaged by British Destroyers HMS Garth and HMS Campbell defending a coastal convoy from attack off Lowestoft/Southwold and S38 (Lt. Detlefson) is rammed by HMS Campbell and sunk with 19 prisoners taken. (Chronology 1939-46, p42: Battle East Coast, p94: [HMS Campbell])

Thursday 21 November 1940

Port War: Yarmouth Road, Church Fields: 2 Parachute Mines

That entry is the end of the plagiarism.

The remaining entries are slightly edited from the original manuscript text of Alfred J. Turner (from now onwards usually referred to as AJT), with some extra notes by the editor and some additional factual references with the sources acknowledged.

Friday 29 November 1940

We too have had our little excitements but in such a minor key that they are really too trivial to put on paper. Last Friday 6.00pm the swine dropped three bombs on CWS boiler house killing one man and three more died later. Fortunately no girls were there or casualties would have been heavy.

Port War: 1839 hrs: CWS Factory, Waveney Drive, 6 High Explosive bombs, 3 civilians killed, 6 civilians injured

Saturday 30 November 1940

On Saturday I was outside the market and saw the long trail of Jerry in the sky. The plane was too high for me to see but I could see the trail still going forward. He was, I suppose, a reconnaisance, probably seeing what damage had been done. Fifteen minutes later a Spitfire came over, picked up the scent and followed on. Jerry turned back, came over Acton Road. Spitfire climbing above him also leaving thin trail and I hear eventually shot Jerry down off Calais 20 minutes later (this came from an official source).

 Wednesday 04 December 1940

The gardener Mark AdamsYesterday, Wednesday at midday a Dornier dropped three bombs on Pakefield Camp. Adams says he saw them fall, like specks. He heard (it) is was being inspected by a high official. There was no siren sounded and yesterday afternoon at about 3.00pm another put about six bombs into Hamilton Dock and the beach area. One man was slightly hurt I am told and there was no damage except to windows. Last week there were several ships there but none yesterday.

Port War: 1258 hrs: Pakefield Holiday Camp, 4 High Explosive bombs, 1 serviceman killed. (para)1508 hrs: LNER siding and Hamilton Docks, 4 High Explosive bombs, 1 civilian injured.

Editor's note: Mark Adams (right) was the son of one of the Pakefield Lifeboatmen and worked for AJT and later JPT for the whole of his life, living in a tied house in Pakefield Street which was given to him on his retirement. A mild mannered man he was not typically aggressive and the pose was probably the result of persuasion by the photographer, more than likely one of the children or grandchildren (I don't think it was me but it might have been).

Thursday 05 December 1940

While waiting for Harold this afternoon a Dornier - they are all Dorniers they say - machined gunned the town at 3.30pm. Mother was in the garden with Tibbie. Mrs. Eade was nearly in tears in the kitchen. We had 8-9 'Alerts' yesterday, the last at midnight. We had the one before that finished at 11.30pm and when the midnight one went on Mother was asleep and I had just sense enough to say 'There she goes again' and I went off also and did not hear the 'All clear'. George (Rix) did and said was at 3.00am. Very few people take much notice. Good job.

I was glad the money came to hand all right. Mann wired me this week 'Paying ordinary' - they pay 10%. Tell Michael I worked hard for him and was successful. Mann is delighted. He marked his last letter 'Secret' so had to burn it. We are very glad also that the parcel came to hand all right and that you all enjoyed the contents.

Editor's note: Harold: believed to be Harold Gearing, the son of a contemporary and fish merchant colleague of AJT's, William J. Gearing,

Tibbie was Mrs. Turner's dog, a cairn terrier,

Mrs. Eade: daily help 5 days a week, lived in Pakefield Street.

Mann was probably the Mann of Mann Egerton, a large motor garage in Kirkley, the company had bought out the Lowestoft Motor Company of which AJT had been a shareholder.

12-19 December 1940

War at Sea Some 300 mines are dropped in the war channel off East Anglia and in the Thames Estuary by German aircraft accounting for 12 ships by Christmas, and a Danish freighter is sunk by a German E-boat S-58 off Great Yarmouth (15th/16th).

December 1940 - January 1941

Editor's note: Over Christmas and into the New Year of 1941 there is a break in the record, probably because the family from Newbury was visiting Lowestoft and staying with AJT and didn't need written reports.


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