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Daphne's chance encounter opens up past

PUBLISHED: 21:59 08 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:18 03 March 2010

IPSWICH pensioner Daphne Woolner may have survived a Second World War bombing.

But nothing prepared her for a chance encounter in a department store, which opened up her past.

IPSWICH pensioner Daphne Woolner may have survived a Second World War bombing.

But nothing prepared her for a chance encounter in a department store, which opened up her past.

The amazing meeting prompted Daphne – who was fostered at the age of five years – to find out more about her parents.

Daphne's life changed forever in May 1941 when her Ipswich home in Bonnington Road was hit by a German missile.

It killed her mother, Gladys Waters, outright and her 15-year-old brother Billy and left her 21-year-old sister, Joyce, so badly injured she needed her leg amputated.

But it wasn't until 61 years on when Daphne was recognised by a childhood friend in Allders that she decided to delve into her past.

"It is quite a story," said Daphne, of Prince of Wales Drive. "A gentleman stopped me in Allders who hadn't seen me since I was five years old and said I know you.

"That's what got me interested. He told me a bit about my family. I didn't really know anything about my mother and it left me wondering if anyone knew her.

"I was surprised he even recognised me after all those years he was quite taken aback to see me."

Daphne was injured in the blast and had to have skin grafts. Her sister, Violet, 18, who was engaged to be married, escaped the blast and Daphne was brought up by Violet's in-laws.

"My sisters didn't talk about the incident much so I pretty much accepted the situation I was in," said Daphne, whose two sisters have since passed away.

"Then this man suddenly appeared and said your name is Daphne Waters and said "do you remember when you were bombed."

The man turned out to be Roy Ramsey who was shopping with his wife when he spotted Daphne, who lived on the same street 61 years ago.

He remembered the blast was so powerful Daphne was blown into a neighbour's garden.

The bombing also killed Daphne's elderly neighbours.

"I don't remember it because I was so young," said Daphne, a mum of two and grandmother of four. "But I did spend the next ten years in and out of hospital a lot.

"It is only now that I realised that I wish I had asked my sisters more questions about my family.

"Maybe this will jog someone's memory."

Daphne has since found out that her sisters were half sisters and she was an illegitimate child.

It is thought that her father's surname is Grimes, now deceased, and she may have half brothers or sisters.

nIf you have any information on the night of the air raid or know about Daphne's parents, or family, contact Amanda Cresswell on 01473 282369.

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