Putting the record straight

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Several Looking Back readers have been enquiring about a chemist shop in South Street in Eastbourne during the 1940s and what happened to its owner William Edwards.

Thanks to a letter from Mr Edwards’ daughter, Gillian Rogers, we can also put the record straight about what happened to her father as many people mistakenly believe he took his own life.

Gillian, who lives in Cranbourne Avenue, writes, “My father was killed in the shelter by St Saviour’s Church on April 3 1943. His name was William Edmunds and his chemist’s shop was at 83 South Street. People are mistaken in thinking he took his own life.

“April 3 was my 14th birthday and my mother was preparing my party at the house we were renting in Baldwin Avenue so she had not gone to help my father in the shop. We were living there instead of over the shop (after we had returned from evacuation) because of the bombing.

“The young boy who lost his life in the shelter was Peter Horton. He and my younger sister Jane and myself had all been in the same billet in Hitchin. His father was the editor of the Eastbourne Chronicle.

“His mother’s birthday was on April 4 and he had cycled down to my father’s shop on April 3 to buy her a present, His mother phoned my father and said, ‘If the cuckoo warning goes, take Peter to a shelter’.

“So when the warning went my father took Peter to the shelter and they were both killed. Normally my father would have gone into the cellar. Our shop had a wonderful cellar.

“This must have haunted dear Mrs Horton who was like a mother to me after my mother returned to America. I had stayed in England as I was then at Oxford. It was much later that she told me about the phone call to my father.

“My father and Peter are buried in a communal grave in the War Graves section of Langney Cemetery under a grave stone saying, ‘Known Unto God’.