Victims of deadly German air raid are remembered
PUBLISHED: 16:48 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:48 15 May 2018
It was a devastating air raid that caused death and destruction.
And 75 years on from the biggest raid on Lowestoft during the Second World War, heritage plaques commemorating the many lives lost have been unveiled.
On May 12, 1943, 24 German Focke-Wulf FW 190 fighter bombers carried out a low level dusk raid that caused major damage and 32 deaths.
This raid was the biggest aimed at Lowestoft in the Second World War and also the most destructive, with 51 houses and premises destroyed and more than 1,000 damaged – passing into history as the Focke-Wulf raids.
During a special service, which marked the commemoration of the 75th anniversary, memorials to the air raid victims were unveiled in the Lowestoft High Street area on Saturday.
The Rev Michael Asquith, rector of St Margaret’s Church, led a short service before a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the 32 people who were killed in the town’s most destructive wartime raid on May 12, 1943.
During the event, which was organised by members of the Jack Rose Old Lowestoft Society (JROLS), aviation historian and vice chairman of the society, Bob Collis, recalled how the raid saw a mixture of tragedy and escapes as several buildings were empty and not all the bombs dropped exploded.
With 32 people killed and 51 injured – making this raid second only in terms of casualties to the Waller’s raid of January 13, 1942 – among the buildings destroyed in the raid was the Jubilee Stores public house on the corner of High Street and Camden Street.
Opened in 1897 the pub was “closed by enemy action on May 12, 1943” after a 500kg bomb was dropped during the air raid, destroying the building and killing 16 people – which included sailors attending a 21st birthday party.
During the commemoration event, a wreath was laid at the Jubilee Stores memorial wall plaque, which has been installed on the corner of Camden Street near the site of the former pub by the society.
JROLS chairman Chris Brooks said that a second, larger heritage plaque – showing 13 scenes from the historic upper High Street – was not quite ready to be put in place but the society hope to be able to do this within the next few weeks.
The deputy mayor of Lowestoft, Peter Knight, paid tribute to the society and all the heritage groups in the town for the work they do in researching the area’s history.