I saw terror from the skies

LOW-FLYING enemy aircraft dropping bombs and machine gunning terrified residents - it sounds like a current news story from a distant land.

David Kindred

LOW-FLYING enemy aircraft dropping bombs and machine gunning terrified residents - it sounds like a current news story from a distant land.

But during the Second World War our region saw many enemy air raids, including the normally quiet town of Needham Market in October 1942. Tony Smith, who still lives in the town, recently told his memories as a schoolboy when he saw bombs drop on the town and this has prompted others to write.

Mary Ward, of Bramford Road, Ipswich, said: “My mother, Emma Baker and I, lived in a cottage in Bridge Street while my father Victor served King and Country. I remember that when I was four I was looking out of the cottage door and saw an aeroplane flying over. 'Ooh Mummy look at that aeroplane something's just fallen out of it!' I said. The next thing I remember was being picked up bodily. I was quite little then and unceremoniously bundled under the table. I don't remember the explosions, but the something I saw drop from the plane was the bomb which made a nasty hole in High Street and killed some people. You can now tell where it fell from the newer houses, more or less opposite the health and fitness centre where Turners Garage used to be.”

Mrs M Mudd, of Jubilee Avenue, Stowmarket, said: “I recognised my mother, Kathleen Salvage (nee Baker), with her bicycle in the bomb damaged Needham Market High Street photograph. My widowed grandmother was killed in the bombing, having gone to the front window to see what the noise was. My mother was called home from her job at Stowmarket ICI on that fateful day and her cousin Tom Potter, (pictured with cycle beside her), who was on leave from the RAF, cycled to collect her.

“My mother was left homeless in just the clothes she was wearing. The Salvation Army was excellent, providing her with clothing. She went to live with her godparents the Richards in Balham until her marriage. They had only lived in the house a short while, following the death of my grandfather who was the life long tenant miller at Baylham Mill.”

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Peter Verney of Ipswich, said: “My wife Enid, nee Scarff, started at Needham Market school the autumn term in 1942, age 11, from Barking Tye. She remembers the bomb dropping on the school. Luckily it hit the front where the cloakrooms and offices were, the children and teachers were all in classes in the rest of the school so they escaped relatively lightly. Her older sister Daphne had her bike destroyed by a bomb splinter in the bike sheds in front of the school.

“They were all sent home and because the school was badly damaged, all the Barking children had to go back to the little village school in Barking. As a result the school took over the taproom at the Fox Pub as an overflow classroom and the children were taught in the smell of beer and 'baccy' for the rest of that term, while Needham School was being repaired.

“While there she also remembers that a pilot from Wattisham was showing off to his wife who lodged across the Tye. He hit one of the tall poplar trees and was killed.”

Norman Bacon, of Harebell Road, Ipswich, added: “The date Tony is talking about is Monday, October 19. I quote 'The third phase lasted from 10.20am to 1.05pm, 11 aircraft entering between Dunwich and Cromer, two crossed Orford Ness to operate around Martlesham at 10.20am. At 10.40am came the busiest period as raid 461, a Ju88 passed by Lowestoft, Cranfield's and Belstead Road, Ipswich, then received two x 500kg HE (high explosive) from raid 92, Sproughton was fired upon, six buildings being damaged.

“Crowfield and Stonham Aspal between them got four x 250kg HE's. Two more fell in Coddenham and Hemingstone then Needham Market. Simultaneously Cromer was bombed, at 10.55am St Alright's Hospital at Standay was being strafed, five x 250kg HE's exploded in trees at Eyke, Stratford St Andrew and Marlesford were bombed and machine gunned, and then Colchester, Mason's arc light Works by four x HE, causing much damage. At 11.10am another six bombers arrived off Lowestoft and came in north of Felixstowe. The new Holton Airfield, near Halesworth was bombed and Harwich. Later more attacks took place at Snailwell Airfield then Snape and Wickham Market'.

“This was part of the attacks on October 19, 1942. There was the second phase, Norwich was bombed twice, Carlton Colville and Kessingland also. Never again would the Luftwaffe launch in daylight against East Anglia a medium bomber attack in such strength, thereafter they went over to night attacks.”

John Cobb, of Swan Lane, Westerfield, added: “My aunt was injured in the raid, she was schoolgirl Elsie Mitchell at the time. She is now 78 years old and living in the USA”.

Nobody locked their doors in those days

MEMORIES of life in the roads and streets off Princes Street, Ipswich, before the area was redeveloped in the 1960s, were featured in Kindred Spirits when Rod Cross recalled life in the packed community.

Jill Hollingsworth, of Michigan Close, Kesgrave, said: “My grandparents, Lilian and William Green, lived in Priory Street. They had six children, three boys and three girls. One of them, my Uncle Alf, became a well known stonemason and his son John carried on the tradition. My cousin, brother and I spent many hours, days, weeks and months, sitting on my grandmother's front door step watching the movements up and down Princes Street. My grandfather used to take us to the animal market, which was near the football ground. The houses were very small, two bedrooms, two sitting rooms, front cellar for coal, the back cellar was the kitchen and there was a toilet outside. Everybody seemed to be friendly, nobody locked their doors; most of them hardly ever seemed to be shut.”

Frank Symonds, of Derwent Road, Ipswich, added: “The photograph of Freston's hay and barn business, at the entrance of Tanners Lane, brought back memories of before World War Two when my brother and I walked from London Road and brought a sack with us and called in there and bought a three penny worth of floor sweepings. We'd return home and borrow dad's sieve to shake out the contents. Maize and corn were for the chickens and a manufactured feed called Kositos, twice the size of today's cornflake, was fed to the rabbits. James' Caf� in Princes Street was a very busy place especially on market day. You could buy a cup of tea and beans on toast for 6d, two-and-a-half pence today.