Sunday, May 6, 2012

October 17-23, 1940

Swindon was rocked this week when two bombs fell during an air raid on Sunday October 20, killing ten and injuring several others.

Houses in Rosebery Street took a direct hit while a second bomb dropped in the middle of an adjoining road.

Gas from a fractured mains caught alight but was swiftly dealt with by the fire fighting services.

“The situation provided a severe test for the various ARP services and police, but they all acquitted themselves remarkably well,” reported the Advertiser.  “Demolition and rescue squads, as well as first aid parties and medical men were at hand extricating residents trapped deep down in the wreckage and attending to the injured.”

Local residents were commended for their great fortitude and the calm way in which they responded to the emergency.

Neighbours told of lucky escapes and coincidences such as the elderly couple who were discovered uninjured asleep in their armchairs in a downstairs room.  Another couple had gone to visit their son and daughter in law who lived across the other side of town so were not at home when the bombs dropped. And two young girls were rescued from beneath a wrecked house, saved from certain death by fallen beams which had supported the debris.

Those who died were named as Olivia Annie Thorne 47 and her twelve year old son Maurice of 115 Rosebery Street; William James Pinnock 62 and his wife Sarah 60 of number 116 and James Brooks 47, a GWR ARP warden, his wife Beatrice 45 and their son Norman 17 who lived at 117 Rosebery Street.  Mrs Nellie Page of nearby Graham Street was also killed while visiting friends.

Twenty two year old Lance Bombardier Allan Wood of the Royal Artillery was killed while serving in South West England, it was reported.

The eldest son of Mr John Wood of Emery Lane, Chippenham, Lance Bombardier Wood had married the former Miss Norris of 73 Redcliffe Street, Swindon earlier in the year.

Merlin Jones, aged 21, a Stoker 1st Class on HMS Chasseur 06, was officially reported as missing.  Jones, of 26 Reading Street was formerly employed as a carpenter at the GWR Works.  His mother said she had not given up hope that her son may be alive and well.

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