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Lowestoft in the line of fire

PUBLISHED: 11:08 23 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:27 05 July 2010

The bomb damaged building at the corner of Commercial Road

The bomb damaged building at the corner of Commercial Road

AS the UK's most easterly port, Lowestoft played an important role during the dark days of the second world war.

Because the town had a naval base and considerable shipbuilding and engineering facilities between 1939 and 1945, it also became a prime target for German bombers.

AS the UK's most easterly port, Lowestoft played an important role during the dark days of the second world war.

Because the town had a naval base and considerable shipbuilding and engineering facilities between 1939 and 1945, it also became a prime target for German bombers.

The Royal Naval Patrol service was based at Sparrow's Nest and the fish market played host to a diversity of vessels including motor torpedo boats (MTBs), patrol boats and minesweepers.

The harbour and dockside were targeted a number of times by enemy aircraft during the second world war and considerable damage was caused.

One notable attack was in April 1941 when the Waveney Dock, Trawl Market and shipping off the coast were hit.

Other parts of the town were also bombed, causing loss of life and considerable damage to property.

The worst raid of the war occurred on January 13, 1942.

It saw 51 civilians and 27 service personnel killed and one missing person.

The damage was caused by high- explosive bombs and became known locally as “The Waller's Raid”.

Buildings across the town were badly damaged in the various raids, including St Margaret's Rectory, the Imperial Hotel in Denmark Road and homes in May Road, Till Road and St Leonard's Road.

Photographs of the damaged area were taken by official photographers for the Ministry of Information and the Admiralty.

One such photographer was Ford Jenkins who detailed the damage and sent his pictures to the Ministry of Information.

A collection of his pictures has been unearthed and they include damaged MTBs in the harbour and bombed buildings alongside the harbour.

One such building was at the corner of Commercial Road and Station Square.

Although badly damaged it was repaired and is today part of Lowestoft's heritage as well as being the home of a clothing shop.

The family who had the photographs have asked not to be identified but it is believed that a relative working for the Ministry of Information during the second world war was responsible for assessing damage at a number of ports including Lowestoft.

It is likely that Ford Jenkins would have passed on his pictures to him and these surviving snapshots are copies of the ones sent to London.

The family have donated the photographs to naval museums.

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