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Prime target for bombers

13:38 27 June 2008

WHEN the second world war arrived on Britain's doorstep, Lowestoft found itself at the heart of the battle.

The UK's most easterly port had a naval base and considerable shipbuilding and engineering facilities between 1939 and 1945, making it a prime target for German bombers.

WHEN the second world war arrived on Britain's doorstep, Lowestoft found itself at the heart of the battle.

The UK's most easterly port had a naval base and considerable shipbuilding and engineering facilities between 1939 and 1945, making it a prime target for German bombers.

Last month, we featured an article about the impact the numerous raids had on the town and printed a photograph thought to have been of damage to a building on the corner of Commercial Road and Station Square.

The pictured image prompted a number of responses from readers, with many pointing out that the badly damaged building was, in fact, on the corner of Regent Road and London Road, where Westgate's department store is today. And local historian John Holmes and aviation enthusiast Robert Collis also expanded on some of the descriptions of the attacks on the town.

Mr Holmes said: “Lowestoft was indeed a prime target during world war two as it was deemed to be a legitimate military base and built various wartime vessels. It is claimed that our town was one of the most heavily bombed towns for its physical size. The casualty rate was probably lower than it could have been as much of the town was evacuated and most of Lowestoft's schools were taken over by the military.”

As mentioned in the previous article, the worst raid of the war occurred on January 13, 1942. A total of 51 civilians and 18 service personnel were killed during Waller's Raid, with one female civilian reported missing.

The raid was, in fact, not a deliberate bombing of the town centre, as the German pilot's log showed that he recorded his location as being over the fish market at Great Yarmouth. The pilot himself died a month later in an aeroplane accident.

Mr Collis said: “It is also a sad fact that the names of three RNPS men which appear on the memorial at Belle Vue Park as having 'no known grave but the sea' are thus recorded as they were killed in air raids but their remains could not be recovered.”

To remember all those killed during the air raids in Lowestoft, an event was held in 1992 to raise funds for a commemorative stone.

The Jack Rose Old Lowestoft Society, chaired by John Holmes, held the event at the Marina Theatre and managed to raise the £850 required for the stone.

“A service was held in London Road North, outside the British Home Stores, when it was dedicated by the Rev Richard Payne, of Christ Church. The Salvation Army played for us and the event proved to be of great comfort to those who were there and had lost friends and relatives during the war including, of course, the Waller's Raid,” said Mr Holmes. “When the development of our town centre took place, it was thanks to Savers that we were able to keep the stone near to where the worst raid on Lowestoft occurred.”

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