We have been given exclusive permission to publish a batch of photos showing bomb damage over the borough during WWll.
These photo’s were taken by an Air Raid Warden during the last conflict, with authorisation by the MOD for their own use,
and also for special Warden training purposes.
All these were all taken from glass slides.
These would have not been seen by the general public until years after!
Our sincere thanks must go to Mr. Rick Moye who kindly donated the pictures for you all to see here.
Some statistics for Hastings & St Leonards,
During the war years.
1940 June – Foreigners were forced to move inland at least 20 miles from the coast, affecting many local businesses. Hastings was included in the ‘defence area’ so no one could enter except on business. All local direction signs were taken down. A house-to-house collection of all scrap metal started. Many London evacuees were moved to Wales. Both Hastings Pier and St Leonards Pier had been requisitioned by military authorities by early 1940, and early that summer each had two sections removed, one near the middle of the pier, and the other adjoining the promenade, in order to stop invading Germans using the piers as landing stages. Summerfields School became the temporary town hall.
1940 July – A night-time curfew was imposed.
1940 July 21 – Three thousand Hastings children were evacuated to Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
1940 July 26 – The first bombs fell on the town, many on the West Hill, when a single raider swept across the town early in the morning and dropped 11 high explosives. There was then a lull, until the ‘Battle of Britain’ started on 14 August, and there many attacks through to November. The mayor set up the Air Raid Distress Fund.
1940 Aug – The Hastings Observer launched an appeal to raise £5,000 to buy a Spitfire; the money was donated within a month.
1940 Sept – The RAF Fairlight radar station became operational. It was located at today’s picnic site, on the north side of Fairlight Road, adjoining Martineau Lane. It was to remain an RAF Domestic Camp (living base) for many years.
1940 Sept 11 – Voluntary evacuation of the town began, and over 20,000 people went. Within days, the population of Hastings had fallen to 22,000 (pre-war it had been 65,000).
1940 Oct 14 – The first anti-aircraft guns were set up in the town.
1941 Dec 8-13 – A Dig for Victory Week exhibition was held at the White Rock Pavilion by Hastings Council in co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture to encourage all garden holders to grow food and to recruit an extra allotmenteers in the borough. Similar exhibitions were held each autumn for the next three years, with the 3-day event in 1944 attracting 5,000 people. By June 1942 there were about 500 wartime allotments.
1942 Sept 22 – By this day 2,714 Morrison steel table air raid shelters had been issued to local houses, nearly all of them free of charge.
1943 March 11 – The heaviest attack of the war took place, with much destruction over a wide area caused by about 20 aircraft using machine guns and dropping 25 bombs. There were 39 deaths and 90 people injured. On this day Hastings councillors were told that between 230 and 250 people had slept in St Clements Caves over the last month, but no one was ‘residing’ there.
1943 March 17 – The Hastings fishing boat EVG RX 152 was blown up by a mine picked up in her trawl. Her crew survived. But the three crew of the Boy Billie RX 61 were killed in the fishing fleet’s worst tragedy of the war when the boat was hit by a mine on 10 April 1943.
1943 April – Hastings Council decided to lay on a water supply to all allotment fields to help grow food.
1943 May 23 – In the second heaviest wartime attack, at least 25 people were killed and 85 injured. The Swan Hotel in the High Street and the Albany Hotel in Robertson Terrace were both destroyed.
1944 Feb 4 – Field Marshal Montgomery inspected troops at the Pilot Field in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Europe.
1944 March 7 – The shore-end of St Leonards Pier was seriously damaged by fire, destroying its pavilion and surrounding buildings. It had also suffered gale damage in early February 1943 and was hit by bombs earlier in the war. The pier owners never attempted to restore it and never re-opened after the war.
1944 March 12 – The highly respected local artist E Lelsie Badham was killed when his house in Priory Road, opposite Emmanuel Church, was hit by a high explosive bomb. The last bomb to fall in the town was on 27 March 1944, landing at the bottom of Filsham Road.
1944 June 15 – The first flying bomb was brought down in the Hastings area, east of Glyne Gap. Another 14 flying bombs came down in the area in the following weeks, the last being on 2 August. Most fell on open ground. Five batteries of heavy anti-aircraft guns were set up, including at Sea Road, the Oval and the East and West Hills. One of the Auxiliary Territorial Service officers at the West Hill battery was Mary Churchill, daughter of the Prime Minister Winston. St Leonards Parish Church was destroyed on 29 July. One fell on Shearbarn Farm on 20 July, killing the occupant, Miss Ethel Maria Barnes, the last person in the borough to die as a result of enemy action. The last flying bomb incident was on 2 August. The last alert was sounded at 7.15pm on 9 November 1944.
1944 Autumn – Many of the wartime restrictions were lifted. The last alert was sounded on 9 November.
Our sincere thanks go to Steve Peak for the use
of reproducing parts of the ‘Hastings Chronicle’.
This almost completes this series of pictures from
Hastings & St Leonards in the war for now,
but we are looking out for more!
If you have any photo’s
that we could include in this series,
then please let us know.
Any pictures that you can supply
would be credited to you.
Thank you for looking.
Thanks to Simon for all his help.
©Richard Pollard.co.uk 2018