Large crowd turns out for unveiling of memorial garden to mark first civilian deaths on mainland Britain

Tuesday, 2 May, 2017

Around 100 people turned out for the unveiling of a memorial garden to mark the 77th anniversary of the first two civilian deaths of the Second World War on the British mainland.

The £12,000 project in Clacton was first thought of several years ago and now the work has been carried out and a special stone commissioned for the site.

It was on April 30, 1940, that a Heinkel German bomber came down in the town’s Victoria Road, “causing severe damage and considerable distress” as it was reported at the time.

Residents Frederick and Dorothy Gill both died when the plane crash landed on their home at number 25.

An air disaster fund was originally set up in 1940 to assist residents in Clacton affected by enemy raids and the account documents were discovered during an office move at Tendring District Council (TDC) four years ago.

There was still some money left in the fund which now amounted to £1,700.

The Council added £10,000 to put a new memorial stone on the garden site at the junction of Victoria Road and Albert Gardens, along with two new benches, soft and hard landscaping, to create a fitting memorial to the historic incident.

The garden was designed by Paul Baines of Frinton.

Yesterday a large crowd of people – many with their own stories to tell about the plane crash – turned out for the unveiling.

John Fairhall from Suffolk turned up to read out an eyewitness account of the incident written by his father, Donald, who lived in Clacton at that time.

Michael Talbot, TDC’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said he was delighted to see so many go along and make it such a special occasion.

“It showed a great deal of respect for those who lost their lives that night and I would like to thank those staff who worked on the scheme along with the designer, Mr Baines,” he said.

“The garden has been created on a small piece of open space and will provide a suitable and lasting memorial to a significant incident in the town’s history.”

After the unveiling a small buffet was held at TDC’s Northbourne Road Depot where Clacton VCH Group (Clacton at War) put on an exhibition with items and photos from around the plane crash.

The memorial stone is currently being completed and will be installed at a later date.

Last updated on: 02/05/2017 - 09:48