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Terror from the skies

PUBLISHED: 11:17 14 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:31 06 July 2010

London Road North in the aftermath of

London Road North in the aftermath of "Waller's Raid", January 13, 1942

WITH a dreaded wail that pierced across the town and the horrific incidents that would often follow, Lowestoft residents spent years living in fear of the air raid siren as the effects of the second world war hit home.

WITH a dreaded wail that pierced across the town and the horrific incidents that would often follow, Lowestoft residents spent years living in fear of the air raid siren as the effects of the second world war hit home.

The war lasted 2,075 days and studies have indicated that in Lowestoft the air-raid siren was sounded 2,064 times. Buildings were destroyed and lives were lost and changed forever as it made an impact on everyone.

During the war the Royal Naval Patrol Service set up an operational base at Sparrows Nest in Lowestoft. This would be the country's most easterly military establishment; however it would not be the closest base to the enemy, with Dover just a short hop away from the occupied French coast.

Bob Collis, of Lowestoft War Memorial Museum, said: “Readers may however be surprised to learn that in many respects Lowestoft suffered a far worse bombardment than the Kentish coastal town located in what came to known as 'Hellfire Corner'.

“The short distance across the Channel meant that German long-range guns in the Calais-Sangatt area could reach the south coast, and between August 1940 and September 1944, Dover received 2,284 shells. These coastal batteries were not finally captured by Allied ground forces until September, 30, 1944.

“While Lowestoft was spared the ordeal of fire from long-range guns, the aerial bombardment from the Luftwaffe took a terrible toll on people and property. The first enemy bombs fell in the town on June 21, 1940, and the last on April, 21, 1944.”

During this time 630 high explosive bombs and 4,645 incendiary bombs fell in the town and over 14,000 more in the surrounding district, with 464 high explosive bombs in Dover.

The death toll in Dover totalled 216, with 762 injured, while in Lowestoft 275 lost their lives and 684 were injured.

“In 1944, when the Germans bombarded London with V-1 Flying Bombs, Dover received three of the sinister pilotless missiles,” said Mr Collis.

“During the winter of 1944, when German aircraft were air-launching V-1s towards London from over the North Sea, Lowestoft came into the firing line again, and two landed in the town, with five more in the surrounding villages.

“The last air-raid alert in Lowestoft was not sounded until April, 30 1945.”

Mr Collis and Simon Baker of the Lowestoft Aviation Society are currently readying a book for publication that outlines some of the many wartime aviation incidents around the Lowestoft area.

The Air War Over Lowestoft 1939-1945 is hoped to be published later this year.


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