Resort was key target for Luftwaffe

FELIXSTOWE was a key target for German bombers during the Second World War, because of vital sites at either end of the town.

FELIXSTOWE was a key target for German bombers during the Second World War, because of vital sites at either end of the town.

Bawdsey Manor's role in the development of radar, which did so much to win the Battle of Britain, is well known.

Sitting just across the Deben estuary from Felixstowe Ferry, it made that part of the peninsula vulnerable and in 1943 the hamlet's church - which had been built in 1878 - was destroyed by a German bomb.

At the other end of Felixstowe, where the port's Landguard terminal now sits, was another target for German bombers, the town's RAF station.

In the years before the war, this had been a key research station used by engineers developing seaplanes and flying boats for military service.

It was dominated by huge hangars and a massive crane which could lift aircraft out of the water.

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During the war, RAF Felixstowe continued to be used for aviation research and it was also used by naval vessels patrolling the North Sea.

The bomb found on the beach yesterday could well have been destined for this key military installation - landing harmlessly a few hundred yards away from its target.

Bombs were reported to have been dropped in the Felixstowe area on September 29, 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain at a time when Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering was changing his tactics away from attacking airfields to other strategic targets.

However, neither Bawdsey Manor nor RAF Felixstowe suffered major damage during the war.

The RAF station continued to be used for research after the war, and service personnel based there played a key role in helping civilians in the aftermath of the 1953 floods.

The station closed in 1962 and the land was soon taken over by the fledgling port and provided its first major expansion away from the dock basin.

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