The letters - 1943
The gap in the papers left by AJT lasts until his note dated 18th January, recording events from 9th January. It also refers to a previous note which appears to be missing.
Sunday 09 January 1943
Pounder tells me that the mine I referred to in my last note exploded outside Hatfield House and all the windows on one side of it were blown out. Nearly all the windows on Wellington Esplanade and some on Kirkley Cliff (one in the Kitchener Home) and some in London Road South were blown out - no casualties or other damage. I was in a certain room upstairs when we heard the noise and mother and Ruth were in the Blue Room. The latter called to me from the Hall, "Have you fallen down?", so that is all they heard of it.
1. The Kitchener Home was of interest to AJT. as he had been one of the founding trustees in 1919.
2. The bathroom was over part of the blue (dining) room at Walmer House.
Monday 10 January 1943
The 'Siren' was on at 10.00am and some people heard bombs. We heard many heavy guns only and later we were told they had bombed Kessingland again and that two houses close to the beach were severely damaged. One man went out into his back garden to see the plane and the front of his house was demolished.
The same morning at 12 noon we had the 'Siren' and then the 'Cuckoo' and, while the latter was still sounding, very heavy gunfire close to us and then bombs. We went down into the cellar for a few minutes. The plane came in to the south of us coming north. It machine-gunned the Oulton Broad area including the new chapel at the corner of Victoria Road and then dropped twelve small bombs in the mud in the inner harbour, between the Coop and the silk factory. It went right over Brookes' boat yard (Miss Breese's place) and their guns opened up, fired by the Home Guard, and then went to the north west - we understand in the Loddon direction.
We heard it went on to Yarmouth and was shot down over the sea. There were no casualties here or at Yarmouth but we heard there were four killed somewhere, we don't know where. The chapel mentioned is scarred with bullet holes.
Tuesday 18 January 1943
We have had sirens each day and today we had one at 5.00am. I think that is a rotten time of day to play in. We did not get up but waited for bombs until the 'All Clear' went, about 5.30am or so, and then turned over and went back to sleep.
Thursday 28 January 1943
The Blitz: A Junkers Ju 88D-1 (430521) of 3(F)/122 crashed in to the sea of Great yarmouth about 3.00pm, believed shot down by Pilot Officer Cody and Sgt. Nash in Spitfires of 167 Squadron. Uffz. H. Schwarze, Uffz. W. Pilz , Uffz. P. Wagner and Uffz. K. Herbonger all killed, The aircraft F6+ML lost. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p215).
Monday 01 February 1943
We were supposed to have a local invasion exercise last Saturday (30th January) from 8.00pm lasting through until 12 noon yesterday, Sunday. All the shops and cinemas were closed, there were no buses running and no civilians on the streets.
We were to be defended by the Czechs against some of our own men from Beccles. The attack would commence any time before dawn when we were to be dive-bombed with soot bombs.
Editor's note: The Czechoslovak Brigade, under the command of Major-General B. Miroslav (replaced by General J. Kratochvil on 25th January 1943), were stationed at Lowestoft and in the surrounding area from 22nd August 1942 until 7th February 1943. The Brigade comprised over 3000 officers and men with Brigade HQ at Dell Road School, 1st Battalion HQ at Wilmington (Kirkley Park Road), 2nd Battalion HQ at The Orphanage, Somerton Avenue (probably means St. Nicholas Home on the corner of Somerton Avenue and St. Margaret's Road), a cadre 3rd Battalion and artillery, signals, engineers and many other support units occupying a number of sites and premises including Oulton Poor Law Institution (Lothingland Hospital), Morton Hall, North Bay and Waveney Hill at Oulton Broad, Rogerson and Potters Camps, Watsons Garage, Victoria Hotel, etc.,
At 8.00pm there were three noises like gunfire which we were told later had been hand grenades. And then we heard nothing more all night but a little desultory small-arms fire about 10.00am. At 10.10am the 'Cuckoo' went followed five minutes later by the 'Siren'. At 1.10am Police cars were out with loud hailers calling everything off, and that is the end of the news.
Items of interest from the exercise: Rest centres and hospitals were fully manned and fully provisioned, chiefly with sausages and mash and hot drinks. Ruth was at the Kendal Road Rest Centre from 7.00pm until 8.00am on Sunday. She had fourteen sailor-casualties, six of whom had been labelled as 'dead'. Mollie Ponder was on duty elsewhere and they had only two sailors who had been 'bombed out' with their house destroyed, and clothes to be found for a wife and two children.
Lady Somerleyton, Lady Eddis and the wife of the Commandant toured the town at 3.00am. They called at the Rest Centre in Kendal Road asking if the ladies were comfortable and whether they had been bombed and wanted any clothes. They were told that they were the workers and that all the fourteen casualties were asleep in their beds. The ladies received apologies and congratulations!
At Mollie Pounder's Rest Centre she had to produce all the supply of spare clothes and hold them up for inspection, to the great delight of the sailors. The sailors at Kendal Road had requested the Rest Centre staff to call them 'not before 9.30am' which had been agreed!
Mead was at the Hospital. At 10.00pm ambulances had arrived with three sailors on stretchers labelled as 'bombed in the street', 'dead' and 'severely wounded'. They were of course immediately attended to and as one of the umpires was present the driver was told to shoot round the corner and Mead would bring the stretchers to him. The umpire man enquired where the ambulance was and was told 'gone after more casualties'. The response was 'Ah. Good. Very good indeed' and extra marks were awarded. The sailors later cleared off, leaving their casualty cards.
Damage: The hospital was bombed, a Rest Centre was on fire and there was much damage. The bridge was bombed and could support no traffic. Oulton Broad was captured. The violent gale on the night was too much for the dive-bombers so we were excused that.
Total result: Everybody was very pleased with everybody else, especially the dead sailors who enjoyed their sausages and mash very much.
Thursday 25 February 1943
There have been no bombs on the town for the last nine days but there have been some at Benacre in the Park, on the cross-roads and close to two farms. There has been no damage except to glass. The craters are very large, I hear, with also some at North Cove.
There has also been bombing in Northgate Street, Yarmouth within seven people killed. All these raids have been in daylight or the early evening.
They are pulling down what is left of Alderton's place down yesterday, I saw him. He saved £2,000 worth of stock and had a marvellous escape. The Morlings were bombed four times: on the shop, twice on their house and again on the shop and killed. Their bodies were found in Alderton's, he told me.
Editor's note: Alderton's: Shoe shop and chiropodist at 108, London Road North, on the east side between the two accesses to The Marina, the most northern of which has become an extended Gordon Road since redevelopment.
Gore's shop is completely destroyed by blast and he is opening at 190, London Road South. Good job Keith's watch was not there.
Editor's note: Gore's: Watch maker and repairer at 93, London Road North, on the west side between The Prairie (Britten Centre Arcade) and Gordon Road,
Wednesday 03 March 1943
The 'Siren' went at 8.45pm followed on very shortly by the 'Cuckoo'. At 9.00pm the 'Cuckoo all clear' went and immediately afterwards two bombs were dropped. Another 'Cuckoo followed immediately then all was quiet for an hour and a half. At 10.15pm there were heavy explosions at sea and apparently much firing.
Thursday 04 March 1943
We hear today that the bombs fell in the sea opposite St. Lukes, so we can call it a near miss.
Editor's note: St. Luke's: originally built as the Empire Hotel it became a TB Hospital before requisitioning during WW2 by the Royal Navy as used as a Barracks by the Royal Naval Patrol Service, demolished after the war and for some years the netball court and tennis courts of St. Mary's Convent School before development into the current Shaftesbury Court residential care home and St. Mary's Primary School.
Friday 05 March 1943
There is no explanation of the gunfire but Adams saw the Harbour Pier lights on all night and the Lowestoft Lifeboat came in crowded with men this afternoon. I was in the garden and heard rapid and continuous gunfire at sea some distance off, which continued after dark for most of the night, and heavy explosions rattled our windows until midnight. We know of no particulars of any of it but it was unpleasant at bedtime.
Monday 08 March 1943
We have 'Sirens' and 'Cuckoos' most days or nights. There has been serious damage to our main rail line we hear, somewhere near Witham, Colchester or Ingatestone and we have heard at other places. The papers were delayed until noon and also the post and bank letters. We hear of a large crater into which en engine fell. The papers arrived as usual today although the letters were two hours late from London.
Wednesday 18 March 1943
We had four 'Alerts' at 6.30am, 12noon, 5.00pm and 10.20pm. None of us at home heard the 6.30am one, neither the 'Siren', 'Cuckoo' nor any gunfire.
They went to Yarmouth and dropped bombs on a WRNS hostel killing five and two more have died since. The Daily Telegraph says it was a direct hit. They also hit two churches and several houses. Our baker is from Yarmouth and said 'there was a small show'.
Editor's note: Hostel: The Women's Royal Naval Service hostel was on the corner of Queens Road and Nelson Road South, Great Yarmouth. Eight girls died, twenty seven were injured and thirteen rescued unhurt from the ruins (Great Yarmouth at War: Tooke & Scarles).
The noon and the 5.00pm 'Alerts' and 'Cuckoos' were without result as far as we know. We were going to bed as the 10.20pm one went. The 'Cuckoo' first and then the 'Siren' then the plane and the gunfire. The latter lasted until 11.30 with the plane or planes seeming to circle overhead. We were in the cellar for most of the time. The 'Cuckoo all clear' went at 11.45pm and the 'Siren All clear' at 11.55pm, no particulars yet.
Port War: Port War records four High Explosive bombs and six unexploded bombs were dropped in Wood's Loke, Gorleston Road, Princes Road, Water Lane, Oulton Road and St. Margaret's Road during this raid.
Thursday 19 March 1943
We now know that a bomb, which must have been a very small one, fell outside the cleaner's in Mill Road and made a small hole in the pavement and blew in some local windows but caused no further damage. Three incendiaries fell on Mann Egerton's roof and burned themselves out without setting fire to the ruberoid on the roof. Heath told me this.
Editor's note: Cleaner's: Lowestoft Dry Cleaners, 109a London Road South (corner of Mill Road).
Opposite Mann Egerton a bomb fell in front of their showroom on the pavement and burned out. I saw the mark and it looked like a splash of whitewash and there was another splash twenty yards further south of it. I am told a number of incendiaries fell in the gardens of Marine Parade properties but they were all small and as far as I hear they all burned themselves out. A warehouse in St. John's Road is burned out.
I haven't heard of any other damage to the town but understand that some were very close to St. Margaret's Church. A lady from Herringfleet told Mrs. Wharton that bombs fell there, setting fire to the trees, pines as you know. There has been no damage or casualties reported beyond the above.
Editor's note: Mrs. Wharton: probably the cashier at Fred. Wharton's butcher's shop in Carlton Road
They went to Norwich and set fire to a large factory making clothing for the troops and also damaged St. Andrews Hall slightly. As far as we were concerned it was nothing of a raid and I cannot understand the fire bombs being so small and so very inefficient. Adams saw a plane very low and I hear they were almost at roof level. I hear also that either three or four were shot down but we don't know where.
Sunday 28 March 1943
We had three 'Alerts' and 'Cuckoos' during the day and at 9.40pm another lot. 'Alert', 'Cuckoo' and then heavy gunfire all within six minutes, we thought we were 'for it' and adjourned to the cellar right off. Fortunately no-one was here except for the three of us.
Editor's note: 'the three of us': presumed to be AJT, his wife and Ruth Rous,
Planes, apparently quite low, seemed continuously nearly overhead and the explosions of gunfire was very heavy indeed at times so that we wondered if some of them were bombs. The show lasted for an hour with guns from the extreme north of Lowestoft joining ours from the golf course. And then the 'All clear' sounded and so we had a cup of hot milk and went to bed.
The Blitz: Two Dornier Do217's, one each from 4/KG2 and 6/KG40, are believed to have been shot down off the Suffolk coast on the night of 28th/29th March (The Blitz Vol. 3, p238: Winston Ramsey).
Monday 29 March 1943
At 10.00pm another 'Alert' then the 'Cuckoo' followed by the 'All clear' and then a 'Cuckoo' again. No guns and no bombs, nothing at all happened. The Sunday night lot I hear consisted of an estimated fifty planes. There were no bombs here and it is considered our defences kept them off as many of our shells were bursting over the sea but there is a little shrapnel in the garden and I heard a shower of it on a roof close to us.
It seems that they dropped bombs, mostly incendiaries, as far distant as Hindringham, close to Wells, at Loddon, Wymondham, Stoke Holy Cross and the outskirts of Norwich, and I heard of four land mines, three in ploughed fields and one in a big tree. There was very little damage anywhere and none at all here.
Port War: Port War records the nearest bombs dropped as eight high explosive bombs in fields at Hopton.
The Blitz: Two Dornier Do 217's, one each from 4/KG2 and 6/KG40 are believed shot down off the Suffolk coast on the night of March 28/29. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p238).
Friday 07 May 1943
Yarmouth was attacked at 7.40am with planes coming in at low level with the sun behind them making them difficult to see. It was a nasty raid with thirteen killed and forty-seven hospital cases. I am told there was damage to the Market Place, Arnold's and Palmer's, with many others with windows blown out.
The Blitz: This was the first raid in this area by massed FW 190's. Armed with a belly mounted 500kg bomb, cannons and machine guns they were extremely lethal. Their tactic was to come in at very low level flying four abreast, cause death and destruction and be on their way home before the defences had time to react. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p257).
The Blitz: A Focke-Wulf FW 190A-5 (52526) of 7/SKG10 hit a telegraph pole and crashed into the sea 200 yards off the coast at Newport just north of Caister, near its target of Great Yarmouth, killing its pilot Oberlt. W. Freudenreich. The aircraft marked in yellow A+ sank. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p261).
Tuesday 11 May 1943
Yarmouth was bombed again at about 8.40 today using the same tactics as before. It was a very bad raid I hear, with several ATS girls killed as well as other service personnel and civilians. The ATS hostel was destroyed with a direct hit and a coffee stall outside the Vauxhall Station which had been there for years was blown away with all staff and customers and there was damage to Cobholm Island again with casualties.
Editor's note: The ATS hostel at Whitfield House, next to the Imperial Hotel, received a direct hit and twenty-six girls were killed. This was the 2nd low-level raid by a sweep of FW 190 fighter-bombers, after which a balloon barrage was installed as a deterrent. The destruction of the coffee stall took place during the 1st low-level attack four days earlier on 7th May. (Great Yarmouth at War: Tooke & Scarles).
We were just going to sleep at 11.00pm when the 'Siren and 'Cuckoo' went. We got up and partly dressed. There were planes about and one came roaring over from the south, close to us and very low. I was at the front door and saw a lot of small lights close to the terminus. I slammed the door and called Mother and Ruth to go to the cellar quickly. Electric light had gone out everywhere
Editor's note: Port War records 3 High Explosive bombs at Kessingland on the following night. These may have given rise to the lights recorded as seen from Walmer at the Terminus (Tramway Hotel area, Pakefield) but which date is correct is uncertain.
The Blitz: At 11.23pm on 11th a Dornier Do 217E-4 (6163) of 3/KG2 crashed into the sea off Lowestoft, according to an Admiralty report passed to the Lowestoft police, after being attacked by a Beaufighter. It was also reported in the Great Yarmouth press that the pilot had lost control and crashed after being blinded by a searchlight. No claim was made by any Beaufighter crew and so the exact cause remains obscure. Lt. E. Pleiss, Obergefr. K. Busch and Oberw. H. Heuyng were recorded as missing and the body of Uff. W. Stöcker was recovered later. U5+FL sank in sea. A body washed up in early June below Gunton Cliffs was unidentifiable apart from his Leutnant rank and may have been that of Lt. Pleiss but is buried in Lowestoft Cemetery as 'A German Soldier'. On June 29 a body later identified as Uff. Stöcker was washed ashore and is also buried in the same area of Lowestoft Cemetery. (The Blitz Then and Now, Vol. 3, p260 and 261).
We needed candles and found some in a minute. It was quiet by now but there was a big glow from the direction of the harbour. There was a little gunfire to the north and then quiet again. We went out at midnight and heard the 'All clear' far away, we supposed from the Co-op. With the electrics out the sirens closer to us could not sound. Then back to bed.
I woke at 2.00am and when I checked our electricity it was working all right. We heard both sirens at 6.00am but don't know what they meant as it was the 'All clear'.
Wednesday 12 May 1943
We had the 'Alert' and 'Cuckoo' on yesterday while we were at breakfast and heard gunfire and bombs. This was the Yarmouth raid of course. They came in over Hemsby which they bombed and swept into Yarmouth bombing Caister Road close to Smith's Potato Crisp factory and destroying some nice properties near the race course. I am unable to verify anything, of course.
This morning we had the 'Alert' and 'Cuckoo' again at 8.40am and I heard bombs and felt the ground shake under my feet as we were at breakfast. Tibbie was very scared, she notices things very quickly. I know no particulars and heard no gunfire. The 'All clear' went at 9.20am.
Adams tells me they think the planes last night (11th) were after a convoy. The convoys have been about very much and I saw a very big one last Sunday at 8.00pm, travelling north and stretching along the coast as far as I could see.
The raid this morning was much worse than we realised. There were four killed in Royal Avenue, four houses demolished and a number of others condemned. I felt the floor shake for one bomb but thought that it was at sea.
At 8.40pm this evening we were all sitting in the conservatory. We had just had supper and were
The conservatory at Walmer House
talking when the 'Cuckoo' went, the bombs started and we all took refuge in the cellar. You never heard such a row in your life, machine gunning and gunfire from our big AA guns exploding apparently all round Walmer. We were sure that our roof was riddled. One plane crossed Halkyards very low and caught a tree which pulled off a piece about two feet long of piping, with one end closed with a plug. The electric light is gone again so we shall get no sirens. We cannot get any particulars. One man said that the gas works is on fire but there is no corroboration. I cannot see that even one window is cracked. We're going to bed, hoping for the best.
Editor's note: Halkyards: Francis Percival Halkyard, physician and surgeon lived at 'Inverary' on the north corner of The Avenue with London Road South, opposite 'Walmer House',
Thursday 13 May 1943
It is a lovely sunny day today after an awful day yesterday. This is a preliminary report about yesterday's events. I told you about the two raids yesterday, one at breakfast and another after supper.
In the breakfast raid a bomb fell in Belle Vue Park and bounced over into Royal Avenue, destroying several houses and killing four people. Mrs. Randlesome was buried for some hours before her body was found. Her husband is the man at the Town Hall in charge of the education of the Borough. She was still at breakfast and he was upstairs and came down with the house and is badly hurt. I understand that four houses were smashed and that several opposite and adjacent will have to be demolished.
I gleaned details of the supper-time raid from a number of people. Mrs. Denby cannot phone her office at the north end as it is badly damaged. Watson's Garage in the High Street, the block between Camden Street and Osborne Street, is burned out (Watson's Garage was on the site of what is now a BP filling station - Ed.) The No. 4 Gasometer was set on fire but the fire was extinguished. It is said that the planes came in so low some were under the telegraph wires.
Mrs. Denby is living with her people in Stradbroke Road and one plane came over their garden touching a tree and hedge-hopped over their house. Her father, who was unable to get into their Morrison shelter watched it through a window. They had no damage. The plane machine-gunned the Tramway Hotel.
Mrs. Garrood was to have come in tonight for bridge but she excused herself . Her two sisters-in-law lived in Regent Road at the house that Roberts the architect built for himself has had its roof blown off and all the ceilings down. Two sailors carried their suitcases to Mrs. Garrood's house last night and they want another home. Their furniture is damaged but not destroyed.
Trixie (Colville) was at the Report Centre all through it. She said you could not hear anyone speak. damage: there were twelve planes over which fanned out. One dropped a bomb in the sea in front of St. Luke's Hospital. The Jubilee Stores took a direct hit: there were several people there and they are believed all killed. The Food Office and the old rectory were badly hit. Several houses are down in various parts including Lyndhurst Road, Raglan Street, Alexandra Road, Essex Road and three other roads she mentioned that I have forgotten. She said the total of houses damaged, from totally demolished to glass damage only, is two thousand five hundred. She said there are twenty-nine dead picked up or dug out last night and thirty wounded sent to hospital and that she was sure that would not be the final total.
Report Centres were part of the organisation of the Civil Defence of the area, staffed by personnel from the local authority, ARP, WVS and others. They existed to record and log all aspects of incidents and control and co-ordinate the Civil Defence response.
The bus conductor told me buses have been diverted at Mariners Street from the main road. I have not been up.
Personal note: Needless to say we have had a warm time round here, too. One plane crossed our garden tearing pieces off two poplars and a fir tree, went into Pakefield Street and fired canon shells into some empty and condemned houses. A bus pulled up just outside Walmer close to the big elm on our corner. The plane tried to get it and I was told there must be scores of bullet or shells in the tree. One shell went through a window in the Carlton Hotel and smashed a picture and caused other damage and was picked up in the hall. The Tramway Hotel also had some rough handling.
Someone who was in the Palais de Dance (now the 'new' CEFAS block in Kensington Road - Ed.) told me they thought the whole place was coming down and Mrs. Garrood's maid, who was at the Marina, told her exactly the same thing and everyone agrees on the really awful noise.
Mother had written a letter to you earlier in the evening and I added a bit to it, sealed it and intended posting it with two other letters. We waited until all had been quiet for at least half an hour and then Mother said, "You and Ruth had better post those letters and be quick back, I don't like it".
I opened the door and we got as far as the gate when I heard the planes coming back, so I said, "Let's wait until this bird had gone", and hurried back to the front door. Looking round, just like Lot's wife, we saw literally hundreds in the sky at her so we rather quickly closed the door and your letter was not posted until this morning.
The electric light had gone again and the Police came round warning us that there would be no sirens or Cuckoo all night, so that meant we had to creep about carrying a candle. We eventually went to bed after hearing from a man at 12.15am that is was 'all clear'. I was just going to sleep (we were all partly dressed) when I heard a policeman's whistle blown six times, then again four or five times, so I got up, put on an overcoat and went out and found that a further 'Cuckoo' was on again.
After a short while I went out again to hear anything I could and was told by two men the 'all clear' had sounded from the Ice or Co-op factory. Then after getting into bed again and keeping my boots in the room (no, not on), I heard long single blasts on the whistle.
The knowledge that there was no electricity meaning no sirens or Cuckoo able to come on was not conducive to sleep but fortunately we all of us soon got off. All was fairly quiet but some noise must have awakened me at 1.40am. I tried the electric and found that it was on.
They also machine-gunned the town. Two women at this end of The Avenue were shot dead and a cripple boy on our Recreation Ground was also killed. One of Ruth's girl children came to school this morning with a bullet graze to her cheek. In Grand Avenue nearly all the house had their roofs and windows damaged.
I have already mentioned that Watson's Garage in the High Street was burned out. Their other garage in St. Peter's Street was also damaged, close to Wigg's Store and I am afraid for Mother's cottages almost opposite. Denmark Road, Norfolk Street and other property in adjoining streets was also damaged.
About 4.00am we had heard our planes going over or coming back. There was an alert this morning at 7.00am for half an hour and that's all. Our planes had been patrolling our coast here, just over the beaches, all day and had returned to base and those taking over had not yet arrived. It looks as if the devils had known the time.
Editor's note: These two raids were by Focke-Wulf 190 fighter-bombers of SKG10, the group based at St. André in northern France which had devastated Great Yarmouth two days earlier. 12 Fw190's had visited Lowestoft in the morning raid and 25 in the evening. By keeping radio silence and flying at low-level across the North Sea they achieved surprise and penetration of the defences to great effect. In the morning the group had been on an anti-shipping strike when they had bombed Royal Avenue. In the evening raid they had come in four abreast over Lowestoft Lighthouse, the main body turning south and immediately they opened up with machine-gun and canon fire while one aircraft turned north and bombed North Parade and Corton Road.
Carrying belly-mounted 500kg (1000lb) bombs eight fell in the area of the harbour while the remainder left a trail of destruction through north Lowestoft. The main attack was over in twenty seconds, the main force exiting over Pakefield. Three aircraft continued south and attacked Kessingland where houses were destroyed and the village blacksmith killed.
A post-war Civil Defence report contains the statistics that in the main attack there were 32 fatal casualties and 55 others, with 51 houses or other premises totally destroyed, 90 very seriously damaged, 225 extensively damaged and 700 with minor damage.
The Blitz: Within two days Lowestoft had a further ten barrage balloons to help prevent such low level attacks. A further sweep by FW190's of SKG10 against Lowestoft on May 15th was averted when they spotted the balloons and they went off to attack Southwold and Felixstowe.(The Blitz Vol. 3, p257-9: Winston Ramsey).
Port War: Port War records 1 bomb in the morning attack, 22 bombs on Lowestoft in the main evening attack and 3 on Kessingland.
As I said at the beginning it's a beautiful day today. Out in the garden you can't imagine the night we had and would say it's piffle. If these penny raids are allowed to affect us what must ours over Germany be like and mean to them? Ours don't mean a lemon to that.
Raid postscript: Mrs. Pounder says that the total casualties were 103. Atkins, a tenant, is in one of the Rescue Squads and says that nine houses and shops next door to the old Food Office (Rectory) are due to be demolished. He told of a working man who came home very tired before the raid started who told his wife he would have loved to have stopped for a pint of beer. She told him to rest while she went to fetch him one. She went to the Jubilee Stores carrying her bag with £25 in it. They found only part of her, and her bag which was empty.
One large bomb fell on or very close to the revetment below St. Luke's, blowing out all the glass in the old hospital. I am told another at the back of Crisps Bookshop made a crater 45 feet across. I have not seen any of the damage.
Friday 14 May 1943
On May 14th there were two very heavy explosions and three not so heavy, none close together. I thought certainly our windows and doors were all coming in and Mrs. Eade's sister held her front door closed as did Thacker at 14 Pakefield Road. The explanation was in the papers. Lt. Dickens exploded two mines, the first one, and then torpedoed two enemy boats or ships, giving the first two torpedoes and blew the other one in half with one.
The Commander in Chief of the Eastern Region came down to visit the defences of Yarmouth and Lowestoft and talk to the Admiral in charge of the towns. I am told he demanded balloons and they were here by the following day. We now have about 12-15 of them up over the town.
The Blitz: At 2.07am on May 14 Sgt. R. L. Watts and Sgt. J. Whewell were flying a Mosquito F.II DZ243 of 157 Squadron when they identified a Dornier Do 217 at 10,000 feet off Ordfordness. They fired four short bursts and set fire to its starboard engine after which it went into cloud and was not seen again. Southwold police received a report that at 2.15am an aeroplane was seen to come down on fire into the sea off Southwold where it remained afloat still burning for some time. Tracer shells had previously been seen in the sky and a fighter plane was heard coming in a few minutes later. KG2 lost four bombers that night, two of which are accounted for in crashes further afield at Bawdsey and Great Barton. It would appear likely that the Southwold plane was the Dornier described by Watts and Whewell as no other defensive night-fighter claims were made. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p263/4).
Saturday 15 May 1943
On Saturday Pounder said he would have to have a rest so that he could carry on. They were going to Reydon for a week's holiday and cycled over in the late afternoon. Later that night, about 10.30pm-midnight another lot of planes came to see us again but saw the balloons and they turned back and went to Southwold, so poor old Pounder went right into it. I hear that ten or twelve were killed, several injured and about three hundred houses damaged, several being destroyed.
The Blitz: A Focke-Wulf FW 190A-5 (50842) of Stab/SKG10 believed shot down by AA fire off Southwold and crashed into the sea off Felixstowe, north of the Cork lightship. Fw. H. Burkhard missing and the aircraft lost. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p268).
Thursday 20 May 1943
Postscript to mid May attacks 1: We had five raids over the period 12/13/14 May altogether but the evening raid of 13th was the worst and many of us think it also the worst of the war. There is no possibility of computing the fatalities yet as they are very much hush-hush but the official number of civilians is thirty-nine or near that number. The forces total is said to be nineteen but Sister Dig told the Blackburns that there were fifty carried out of Arnold House. The Jubilee Stores I hear is quite flat and was full of men in the bars and private rooms. The landlord and his son were killed and the body of his wife has not been found.
Postscript to mid May attacks 2: Ipswich Road and Norfolk Street (close to Kent Road) are very badly smashed up. Wilde's Score is also including the old school there. It is very bad everywhere and I don't know whether the High Street is opened up again yet - it was still closed on Monday.
Postscript to mid May attacks 3: Robinson (Foxburrow) saw a Wren killed on the pavement outside her hostel and told his lady secretary the sight was too awful for description. A man and his wife at the bottom of The Avenue (our end) laid down in the road. She said, "I have been hit, I am dying", and she was buried yesterday. One bomb went through one of the houses on the front (north end), in one wall and out through the other, bounced on the tennis courts behind and made a direct hit on Tungates house, Ted Swan told me. He is a warden and went on to say that a house had been taken for a new Post for them and he was waiting connection to the telephone.
Postscript to mid May attacks 4: The remarkable coincidence of the Electric light going out at the beginning of the raid, which was not the cause of it, is increased by exactly the same thing happening the next night, when the Police had to come round with whistles. We did not like it at all.
Postscript to mid May attacks 5: I have been nowhere here to see the damage except to Raglan Street at the back of ours in Clapham Road. Four or five are smashed flat and more to be demolished but our houses have only slight damage. Our Kent Road property has more, I hear.
Postscript to mid May attacks 6: Pearce took a rating to the Grand to see 49th Parallel. All the lights went out everywhere and they thought the place was coming down. He and the sailor lay down on the floor and the people just walked all over them, almost a panic. All the cinemas vomited their patrons so that hundreds were on the streets and with all the machine-gunning I wonder at least five hundred were not shot.
Postscript to mid May attacks 7: Did I tell you that one came over our garden at the far end, went between two poplars and over a pine tree breaking small branches off all three? A foot nearer and he would have struck the trunk. We have just had an 'All clear' as I write and there is just one more thing to say: I am thankful none of you were here with us. The responsibility would have been too great for me.
Sunday 30 May 1943
The last two nights, Friday 28th and Saturday 29th have been noisy with no bombs on the town but much activity at sea with appropriate sounds. On Friday with a convoy going past I saw two star shells and also a glare in the sky. I have no particulars but heavy gunfire sent us out of bed to the cellar at midnight.
On Saturday we went to bed at 11.00pm and at 11.30pm there were planes going out over us in swarms for over an hour and a half. There were some very heavy explosions at sea during that time and very much noise. Ten minutes before the last of the planes the 'Crash' alarm went followed by the 'Alert'. There was heavy gunfire to the north, probably at Yarmouth. There were four chandeliers of flares in the sky and also tracer bullets and the glow from a fire, presumably at Yarmouth, if not then to the west of it. I went out three times and saw one of our planes dropping red recognition flares and then heard either guns or bombs so we cellared again. The 'All clear' went at 1.20am and we went back to bed but heard our planes returning from 3.00am.
Friday 16 July 1943
12.15am Alert and cuckoo
12.40am Both all clear
1.20am Alert and Cuckoo
2.05am All clear
3.10am Cuckoo then alert
3.40am All clear
4.20am Cuckoo only
4.45am All clear
6.30am Alert only
6.50am All clear
....and nothing happened....
Saturday 23 October 1943
The raid I told you about which kept us in the cellar for an hour on Saturday 23rd October was more serious that we thought but no-one was killed and there were only slight casualties.
I hear from the Report Centre that there were fifteen planes over. The Huns claimed Yarmouth which is a lie. They were driven off by our guns there and also here and they contrived to get inland, more or less, between the two towns. They dropped forty-five HE bombs and twelve thousand incendiaries of different types, including spikes which, of course, are not incendiaries but are made so that one of the spikes always sticks upwards. Three of our motor cars were punctured by them.
Corton seems to have had it worst. Apparently there was a dance on and possibly a light or two were shown, I don't know but they had eight hundred incendiaries there and many HE's, some of which - perhaps most - were delayed action which were dealt with later. Forty houses, one large one, were damaged or destroyed. There were three thousand incendiaries on Somerleyton Park, Lady Somerleyton told Pounder. Our workhouse was set on fire at Oulton and also some hay ricks.
Dr. Mead had a canister of incendiaries dropped with a short distance of his house, It went into the ground and then exploded, covering his house with fire, debris and everything else possible. He and his wife laid in their Morrison shelter with two dogs and he says he thought they were 'for it' for certain.
Port War: Port War records two high explosive bombs on Yarmouth Road and St. Peter's Avenue, Gunton dropped within the Borough but a further fifty high explosive bombs, ten thousand incendiary bombs and four thousand caltrops outside the Borough at Corton, Oulton, Hopton and Blundeston
Editor's note: Dr. Mead: John Clarke Mead, MB, BSLond, FRSCEng, LRCPLond, JP, physician and surgeon, lived on the corner of Royal Avenue at 27 Yarmouth Road,
Our Yarmouth baker told us they had a rough time there similar to ours with gunfire but nothing more, and that when it was all over the planes returned over Yarmouth flying very low and threading between the balloons, too low for the defences to fire at. A lot of huts belonging to the holiday camps were destroyed by fire and blast. I believe there are some occupied by soldiers but I don't think there were any casualties among them.
Wednesday 03 November 1943
Last evening about 6.50pm the 'Alert' went on. Mrs. Smith was here and promptly left. Eve May was also here. The Cuckoo went on just after 7.00pm and remained on until about 8.20pm. The All clear went at 8.30pm. There was no gunfire at all. We delayed supper as things such as a table are rather in the way when speed might be necessary to take cover but we had a game of Bridge, Mother and I won two rubbers out of three. Then she went and put the kettle on and two minutes later the 'Cuckoo all clear' went.
Thursday 04 November 1943
It is now 11.00am and no papers yet so something has happened somewhere but no particulars.
Saturday 07 November 1943
We had another noisy night on Saturday 7th. The 'Alert' went at 10.45 and then 'All clear at 11/10pm. Another 'Alert at 11.20pm followed by heavy gunfire at 11.25pm with the planes quite close. There was a heavy rumbling of guns later and noise which I took to be machine-gunning of the town. We got up and went to the cellar and soon after there was a tremendous crash which I felt was a bomb. It was a plane brought down close to Gillingham. A 17 year old boy bailed out and three others were killed. The boy was searched by the Home Guard. When the local Police arrived he was re-searched and they found a large knife with a six inch long blade which jumped into a socket and remained fixed on a spring was touched, The other end had a sharp marlin spike fitted. It was brought down by AA fire from here and two others were brought down.
Editor's note: The plane shot down was 9/KG2 Dornier Do 217K-1 (4509), brought down by 3.7inch anti-aircraft fire and crashed at Winston Hall Farm, Gillingham on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. Lt. G. Wulfhorst, Gefr. W. Geyer and Obergefr. N. Komp were killed. A. Kork bailed out and was captured. The aircraft U5+GT was destroyed. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p314)
Norman - now living at Bungay. The Home Guard's old soldiers saw three bombs taken off the plane last Sunday and also a canister of incendiaries. The Bombs and incendiaries were planned for a Norwich suburb. The 'Alert' was on until 1.00am which as that time of night is also the crash warning. All quiet since then.
Postscript: The rolling/rumbling gunfire mentioned was from our own rocket guns.
Saturday 12 November 1943
Three strange stories about bombs.
Mr Regis, one of the head wardens, told us the following all of which he vouched for.
The Delayed Action bomb which fell in Janet Hoare's garden when the houses opposite us were demolished was reported to Bomb Disposal immediately. They attended to others first and later on called on Regis to shew him where it was. The expert sat on it, pulled out a stethoscope and asked Regis if he had seen one like it before. He replied untruthfully "Yes". Then the expert asked him to listen to the ticking, which was different. He still sat on the bomb and he lighted a cigarette. Regis told him he was busy and asked to be excused and cleared out. You remember, Acton Road had been evacuated, Regis said that if it had gone off it would have wiped out the houses as far as the terminus. It was moved from there three hours later after lying there for eighteen hours. Our number would have been up for certain.
A short time ago a terrible bomb, one of the most dangerous about seven feet long by two feet six in diameter, fell in a field at Oulton. I forget what Regis called it but it was liable to go off with the slightest vibration. The Bomb Disposal crowd warned the farmer and the whole neighbourhood about it as other bombs had a greater priority that day and they would have to come back. Next day they came round and couldn't find it. They asked the farmer who told them it was still there but it wasn't. At last they found an old labourer, 75 years old and almost totally deaf, and asked if he had seen anyone moving it. He replied, "Whoy, I did. I wanted to plough that field and I hitched old Tom to it with chains and towed it to the horsepond", about 300 yards, "and there she be now". And there she still was.
A very short time ago a lot of incendiaries were dropped in a meadow at Oulton. The farmer was told that a herd of cows in an adjoining meadow which connected with it would have to be evacuated in case they came into contact with them as there were several butterfly bombs amongst them which would explode with the slightest movement. The cows were evacuated and one of the put a hoof on a butterfly bomb forcing it into the soft ground. Nothing happened.