Air Raid-August 1917
Southend-on-Sea
The Raid Not since the air raid of 26th May 1915 had Southend received such a concentrated murderous attack, when just after 5:00pm on the evening of Sunday 12th August 1917. The day had been warm and pleasant, the towns folk had been going about their business, day trippers and holiday makers had been making their way home after a day out or a holiday by the sea. Little did they know that the day that had been so full of fun would soon be torn apart and the full devastating effects of war would indelibly be marked on their bodies and minds forever. This raid was carried out by aircraft dropping at least 40 bombs. The death toll from the raid by Tuesday 14th August 1914 had reached 32 dead with a further 43 injured, the greatest loss of life being at Victoria Avenue where throngs of people were making their way to Southend Victoria Railway Station, locals were making their way to church whilst other were at a restaurant, up to twenty were killed here. Two of the victims had been blown through a shop door, a boy was killed, his four sisters and brothers were all injured, another victim was a young girl on her way to a Salvation Army class, a mother of two was also killed her children were injured. Another bomb shattered the glass of the houses in Milton Street, a second bomb fell in Milton Street killing Charles Humphries (60), he was a railway guard who has been in the employ of the Great Eastern Company since 1889, the same bomb also killed a woman Salvationist. A short distance from this bomb an aerial torpedo completely destroyed a house in Guildford Road killing two of the occupants, three other people were buried under the debris, they were rescued half an hour after the blast. Two bombs fell near Lovelace Gardens, one badly damaging a house, a mother and daughter were killed, but a man who was sitting at tea with them escaped the second bomb fell on to an allotment. A second aerial torpedo fell on open waste land off the London Road, Leigh, near Lord Roberts Avenue which failed to explode. Parts of all three other aerial torpedoes were recovered by the police. Many people had a lucky escape in Cliffsea Grove when bombing wrecked three houses and caused extensive damage to three others and shattering glass in countless others. The lucky escape for the people in Cliffsea Grove was thanks to them sheltering in the cramped hallway of the house. A Special Police Constable was cycling along Cliffsea Grove when the bomb landed just 40 yards from him, he was blown off his bike but survived with minor cuts and bruises. A number of bombs were dropped on Westcliff, one fell in Imperial Avenue and another in the garden adjoining the garden in which a bomb fell in 1915, as these bombs fell they emitted yellow fumes, believed to be gas or poison, another bomb that fell close to Glen Red Cross Hospital covered part of the road with yellow powder. The indiscriminate and random dropping of the bombs suggested that the enemy aircraft were making a hurried departure after being encountered by British aeroplanes to the north of the town. The German raiders consisted of nine Gotha bombers who flew low over the town during the raid before climbing as they made their escape to the East. In Lord Roberts Avenue an aerial torpedo hit a house and passed through the roof and floors. A horse was killed by flying debris when a bomb exploded in Grasmere Avenue it was the property of greengrocer Mr Rolfe, a dog was killed by debris in Sunningdale Avenue. Seven cows were killed in a field off the London Road in Leigh by bomb blast and shrapnel, a workshop was completely destroyed in Leigh. The tramway system was damaged outside Porters Grange when 8lbs lumps of granite were thrown into a conservatory in Boscombe Road, nearly a quarter of a mile away. The Technical School at the junction of the High Street & Victoria Avenue had all its windows shattered, as did the Hotel Victoria a short distance away. Five people were buried alive in a house that was destroyed by an aerial torpedo rescuers were able to save four of them. A Mother and Daughter were killed when their house in Lovelace Gardens took a direct hit, the husband who was disabled was badly injured. A man took the full force of a bomb blast in Milton Street. Further aerial torpedoes were fired in Leigh, one damaged a house whilst the others failed to explode, the gas and water mains were ruptured outside All Saints Church. In the Broadway many shops had their fronts blown out scattering their goods amongst the people who were hurt and killed, the dead were removed from the scene in wheelbarrows whilst the injured were transport to hospital in cars. The larger buildings remained intact but the smaller buildings were heavily damaged. At one point the sky was filled with as many as 40 aircraft those dropping bombs and British fighters trying to shoot down the Germans. The raid had started just after 5:00pm with the first calls to the emergency services at 5:22pm, little warning had been received of the raid, the residence of the town and the visitors were only warned by police officers shouting warnings to take cover, at the time of the raid it was estimated that 50,000 people were visiting Southend at the time. Those that had been in town sightseeing became sightseers of a different kind. Where shops had had their windows blown out the shopkeepers quickly boarded them up and used the boards to hang their goods from, nothing would stop a shop from trading. The sheer brutality and widespread nature of the attack saw a huge surge in the number of telegrams being sent that post offices became over-whelmed and had to stop taking them, whilst the telephone system was so over used that there was a tree hour delay in getting a call out of the town. Of the nine raiders two were shot down (one Gotha the other a seaplane), the attack was originally planned for London, but they met large presence of RFC fighters and the Germans turned back towards Southend dropping what bombs they could on the town with others being jettisoned out to sea. Anti-aircraft guns opened up on the fleeing bombers. Roll Call Emily Gladys Cornish, aged 13 Victor William Sullivan, aged 10, of 173 Bostall Lane, Abbey Wood Charles Humphries, aged 70, of 46 Coleman Street, Southend Anne Collier, 30, of 12 Elizabeth Road, Thorpe Bay Dorothy Evelyn Rice, 14, of 69 Princes Street, Southend Jessie Camilla Galloway, aged 17, of 127 Elderfield Road, Clapton John and Leah Cohen, both aged 60 husband and wife, of 21 Holbrook Road, Plaistow Mary Ann Donaldson, 34, of 2 Princetown Street, Holborn Elizabeth Mary West, aged 55, of Lovelace Gardens, Southend, and her daughter, Gladys West, aged 13 Oliver Watson 30 and Beatrice Watson 27, husband and wife, of 180 Shaftesbury Avenue, Thorpe Bay Lena Gooding, 7, of 11 Guildford Road, Southend Alfred Lewis, 74, of 41 Langton Road, Brixton Frederick Hawes, 14, of 12 Guildford Road, Southend Jessie Orton, 28, and daughter aged 6, of same name, of 8 Glass Street, Three Colts Lane, Bethnal Green Arthur Hills, 45, of 19, Oak Road, Northumberland Heath, Erith James Grant, 10, of 16, Broadway Market, Southend George Henry Crees, 70, of 16, St Ann's Road, Southend Clara Gavell, 19, of Sandringham Hotel, Westcliff Walter Henry Batty, 42, and his wife Edith Kate Batty, of 19, Brigadier Avenue, Enfield Florence Mason, 14, of 9, Burnaby Road, Southend Violet Mann, 40, of 58, Myddleton Street, Clerkenwell Where the bombs fell On pavement in Victoria Avenue, near High School for Boys (this caused terrible havoc) On pavement in the High Street At the rear of the Labour Exchange Two in Milton Street (killing several) Guildford Street (killing three) Crowstone Road, Westcliff Ceylon Road, Westcliff Boston Avenue, Southend Southchurch Road, near All Saints Church Southchurch Avenue, near Glen Hospital Allotment at Bournemouth Park Road Allotment, Christchurch Road Ilfracombe Road, Southchurch Allotment at back of Lovelace Gardens, Southchurch House in Lovelace Gardens (2 deaths) Surbiton Road, Southchurch Cliffsea Grove, Leigh Lord Roberts Avenue, Leigh Allotment at Woodfield Park Drive, Leigh Sunningdale Avenue, Westcliff London Road, Leigh (near Leigh Hall Road) Lansdowne Avenue, Leigh Grasmead Avenue, Leigh Allotment at Fernleigh Drive, Leigh On the foreshore Two in a field in Rochford Garden at North Street, Prittlewell Field at Eastwood Field at Little Wakering About 40 bombs were dropped on Southend that evening, about 30 houses were damaged or destroyed. Totals: KILLED : Total 32. 10 Men, 13 Women, 9 Children, including 7 Cows, 1 Horse, 1 Dog. INJURED : Total 43. 13 Men, 18 Women, 12 Children. Of the killed, 15 were visitors and 17 were residents. The deaths occurred approximately in the vicinity of the following places: - GER Station 15. Milton Street 9. Guildford Road 6. Lovelace Gardens 2. Total 32.

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