TWENTY CIVILIANS KILLED
in the bombing raid
The photographs of the bomb damage at the bottom of this page here are from the collection of Peter Norman
Some have been used by national newspapers, Peter records that the "Lynn Advertiser" had some, and the Newmarket Local History Society have several.
Tony Pringle, Peter Norman and Bill Smith have devoted hours to the search for details, assisted by others in the Newmarket Local History Society,
to add to the original research by David Occomore. Hopefully this can be added to, but sadly those with personal memories are fast leaving us.
No doubt the bonfires at Severals House during the move to Mildenhall of the Council when Forest Heath was formed took some of the records.
Morgue records from White Lodge and Stratford House have long since vanished
click here to go to www.slicentime.co.uk, and click on " Downloads "
where Michael Mingay has an excellent set of images where he has overlaid the present day buildings with the bomb damage images.
Many more details and eye witness accounts can be found in the book "The Bombing of Newmarket - One afternoon in February 1941", edited by N.L.H.S. Chair Sandra Easom,
which is currently (2020) being readied for a new edition.
In point of fact these were not the first Newmarket civilian casualties, the first was George Claydon, machine gunned on 29th October 1940 by a Luftwaffe plane on a stud along Woodditton Road. He was a native of Saxon Street originally and is buried in Woodditton churchyard and is on the war memorial plaque there. He was a boarder with the Norman family at the Bridge Cottages in Newmarket for well over 20 years so it begs the question as to whether he ought to be included in the names of the civilians on the Town memorial.
click here to go to his entry in the Woodditton pages
|It is quite likely that 7 others died as a result of this raid, as according to several records the total dead was 27. So far only the 20 above have been positively identified. After all this time this may well be impossible, especially since it is not known even on which day they may have died. Some were quite possibly servicemen. Being war time very little of such information would have been made public. To this day no-one knows what the Army meeting at the Memorial Hall was about. It would have certainly brought more soldiers to the town centre, the officers' drivers were unlikely to have stayed with their vehicles. The White Hart and other hostelries along the High Street may well have been a most welcome sight.|
To add to the difficulty White Lodge was an emergency hospital and would have had wounded servicemen from other parts of East Anglia. Death registrations for Newmarket in quarter one of 1941 numbered 175, that of course included the surrounding villages. Even removing those we know were killed in the bombing, some babies (whose deaths would certainly have made the press), that leaves too many to start getting death certificates for. Trawling through those of military age, most of these are discounted as further investigation revealed the circumstances of their death. Even obtaining death certificates of the remainder may well prove fruitless as the certificates will most likely simply give the actual cause of death, not how the injuries were come by. The hospital and morgue records have long since disappeared
A parade in 1943, poor ex newspaper shot of what was left of White Hart end of street
The Bury Free Press (above) and an eye witness, Michael Fields, recorded that bombs 9 and 10 fell harmlessly on the pavement in front of the Memorial Hall and the Doric Cinema. There would have been a total of ten 50kg (110 lbs) bombs, carried in 2 internal racks in the Dornier 17z. This aircraft could carry a further 10 bombs but this would have reduced it's operating range. The norm for this sort of operation would have been to use an extra internal fuel tank in the forward half of the bomb bay instead, to give it a safer operational range. One feature of this aircraft was it was underpowered and soon after this raid they were superceded by the more powerful Do217. It is interesting to note that the first and second bombs were spaced much further apart than the rest, which accounts for the Carlton Hotel being undamaged. Advice from an expert on ballistics regarding this would be welcomed|
The Memorial Hall facade still (2019) shows the scars of the debris from the bombing.
Thanks to various photos recently uncovered, I think this is now the definitive list of premises along the bombed stretch of the High Street. The going was made harder by the lack of photographs of the stretch between Carrs and H Gilbert's. Even now it would be nice to get a photo that decently identifies Hayhoe and Le Bon Bon at that time Not all the businesses were in their original location after the rebuilding had taken place, le Bon Bon being one of them and Winton Smith's butcher moving from Ashford's building across to replace Peck's in Phoenix house.
As with the vast majority of "facts" of this day, we rely on the eye-witness accounts which in very many cases contradict each other. However in the absence of hard and fast documentary evidence the following does seem to be the most likely sequence
From Market Street junction with High Street, going westward
Freeman, Hardy & Willis ground floor, Marlborough Club above BOMB 1 - William DOIG - Richard JENNINGS - Louisa WATERS killed
Hepworth's (tailors) BOMB 1 William WHELAN killed
Home & Colonial (grocers) BOMB 1
Victoria Mansions (Carlton Hotel)
London Central Meat Co
On the Square Library BOMB 2
J.W.Dore (Jewellery) BOMB 2
Sheppard's (grocery and wines) E Simpson
Here is Wellington Street
Carr's chemist..shop taking ground floor of two buildings (John Fawcett, pharmacist living above 1936) BOMB 3
Hayhoe (fruiterer) BOMB 3
Le Bon Bon (confectioners ) (Mrs Harwood 1936) BOMB 3
Phoenix House. (which still exists) some damage from BOMB 3.... had shop front on right (2/3rds of frontage) for Henry Hambling (drapers) which may have been taken over by George Peck by the time of the bombing, with gated archway to yard and access to flat for George Peck (plumber/decorator) Nina PECK killed
Allington House, Boyce & Rogers (saddlers) and residence of Edward Whisker
Eaton House - BOMB 4 Harry Gilbert (iromnomger) the fascia board for T E Simpson now exposed, possibly also office for Goodwin's on right, then shop for Walter Calloway (tobacconist) and on left the entrance for Sporting Chronicle office and upstairs to 1st floor Walter Bryant (dentist) and 2nd floor Sturgess ladies hairdresser) Alice Sturgess George GROVES - Gertrude HUTCHINSON - Viola LAMBERT - Ada BARKER - Laban HARDING - Peter HOLLOWAY(possibly in Gilbert's)
York House on right A A Burgess Ltd (butchers) and A A Leonard (presumably up stairs) and on left J Chester (tailors)
Newmarket General Post Office BOMB 5 Allan BARNES - Queenie KERRY
here is New Cut
Rothsay House (which still exists) on right Jas Smith (cleaners) and Osmond E Griffiths (auctioneers estate agents)
Fitzwillian House (which still exists)- ground floor Ashby & Newton (tailors) and upper storeys as various offices
Boots (chemists) BOMB 6
Rockingham House BOMB 6 -rebuilt virtually as was - ground floor A1 Jones (tobacconist) , upstairs Green & Sons (barbers)
here is Church Lane
White Hart Hotel now completely rebuilt BOMB 7 Leslie FULLER - Walter STRINGER killed
Beaufort House Ruston & Loyyde (solicitors on right and on left before the archway was J.Proctor (fruiterer/florist BOMB 8 hit Proctors
BOMB 9 fell in front of Memorial Hall
BOMB 10 fell in front of Doric Cinema
There was one Civil Defence report corroborating the eyewitness report of the fall of bombs 9 and 10 but little else. Most reports have a total of 27 killed but so far (2020) extensive research has failed to identify the missing 7. Some were most likely servicemen, making it even harder to trace them. Unfortunately CWGC only record the place of burial, and death certificates, although giving the place of death, give the exact cause but seldom the circumstances. And of course it is necessary to have a name in the first
instance. Public indexes for death only put deaths in quarters of the year and the registration district, so, for Newmarket, quarter one there are 175 deaths recorded and we do not know for sure if the missing were wounded and died later. All in all a very difficult problem to solve.
Newspaper report later
Clearance under way for bombs 3 and 4