Devastation brought by Heinkel bombers

AN appeal for information about a Second World War bombing raid on Ipswich by reader Norman Bacon has prompted some information about that day in July 1940.

David Kindred

AN appeal for information about a Second World War bombing raid on Ipswich by reader Norman Bacon has prompted some information about that day in July 1940. The story is literally too close to home for me! Mr R Shemming, of Portman Road, Ipswich, tells of the day he just escaped with his life.

Mr Shemming said: “It was a murky overcast day, when at about 4pm my brother and I aged ten and 12 respectively, were sitting on the forecourt wall of the Margaret Catchpole public house in Cliff Lane, when the distant rumble of anti-aircraft guns alerted us to the impending danger of approaching bombers.

“However, as we hastily approached the nearby houses, one of the German bombers zoomed out of the clouds flying very low towards the docks, which was presumably the intended target. The large black cross on the fuselage was quite a daunting experience.

Two elderly ladies kindly allowed us into their semi detached house in Cliff Lane when a bomb blew the roof off as the house next door took most of the blast.

“As we were gently helped from the wreckage by the emergency services, we were in a somewhat dazed state, as you can imagine, and were given a welcome cup of tea and biscuits. We were then taken to the clinic in Clapgate Lane with minor injuries.

Most Read

“As Norman correctly mentioned, bombs were dropped that day in Avondale Road, Clapgate Lane, Wye Road, Severn Road, Cliff Lane and Holywells Park.

The docks were also badly damaged by incendiary bombs, causing an aftermath of blazing timber yards, and warehouses.

The Observer Corps report revealed that the raid involved five Heinkel fighter bombers, which suddenly swooped in close formation across the Rivers Estate.

“Mrs Perry, the house owner and her sister, kept in touch with my family for several years. Her son Fred Perry was an Ipswich policeman during the 1950/60s and a landlord of the Gardeners Arms in Fore Hamlet for many years.”

- The pair of houses hit by the bomb in Cliff Lane, Ipswich, was the home of the Perry Family at number 75 and the Benfield family at 77. My parent's house was next door at 79 and was very badly damaged by the blast.

I was born just after the war and my parents told me they were not at home and returned later in the day to find a scene of devastation. As a child I could not understand why the Germans picked on us!

My father Noel explained that the dock was the target, but to a small boy the docks seemed miles away. In fact it is about a quarter of a mile. Sadly for me it seems there is not photographic record of the damage in Cliff Lane.