Two nights of bombing - 70 years ago
PUBLISHED: 11:00 30 June 2012
MORE than 100 people were killed and 11,000 fire bombs dropped on Weston this week 70 years ago.
June 27-29 marks the 70th anniversary of the Weston blitz, two nights of bombing which destroyed 50 homes and damaged a further 5,000.
According to a newspaper report from that week, the town was put on a lockdown, with no visitors allowed in, after the raids.
Derek Venn, aged 68, of Pilgrims Way, Worle, is a local historian who has been trying to compile residents’ memories of the devastating attacks.
He appealed in the Mercury last month for those who lived through the raids to contact him.
He has found out that more than 50 high-explosive bombs were dropped on the town as well as 11,000 incendiary fire bombs, killing more than 100 people and seriously injuring another 400.
About 5,000 homes were damaged and 50 completely destroyed.
There were also 135 fires reported, with aircraft reportedly firing machine guns at fire crews.
Mr Venn said: “I am very pleased with the response and the number of people who have come forward. One in particular was from a lady who owned an ice cream parlour.
“She was coming down the stairs when the incendiary bombs hit and burst onto the stairs and burnt in front of them.”
He said there were reports of deaths as far and wide as Worle, Kewstoke, Milton and Uphill, with town centre damage heaviest in Moorland Road, Devonshire Road, Argyle Avenue and Orchard Street.
Newspaper reports at the time said children evacuated from other cities and towns were in Weston at the time of the attack, described as ‘an attempt to burn the place down’.
It was noted as the first time the Germans had attacked a seaside town that had no war factories or shipping.
Reports also stated that police banned visitors from coming to the town, with only those on urgent business allowed in.
A railway goods yard was flattened, along with a cinema, known as Tivoli, and several town centre streets were rendered impassable by rubble.
Now Mr Venn is trying to organise the memories of the devastating night of attacks into a series of documents to be kept in Weston, with the library and the museum two suggested keeping places for the blitz memories.
● Photos taken from Somerset At War Through Time by Henry Buckton and published by Amberley Publishing.