Horror of wartime Eastbourne

The photograph of Jack and Gaby Hutchinson pulling their belongings from the wreckage of their bombed home in Willoughby Crescent prompted a call from a call from their daughter Jean Everett, who still lives in Eastbourne.

Saturday, 21st April 2018, 11:33 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:34 am

Jean was nine-years-old at the time of the bombing in October 1941 and her brother Ronnie was a year older and Shirley aged seven.

She writes, “I remember the day very well as my mother had an appointment at the hospital so our grandmother came to look after us while she and Dad were at the hospital.

“I was at school as I went mornings and Ron and Shirley went afternoons so they were at home in Willoughby Crescent with our grandmother.


“The warning came to take cover so Gran, Ron and Shirley got in a cupboard under the stairs. When the all clear was sounded and they came out of the cupboard, they said they could see the sky from the hall. They were very shocked.

“I was at school sitting in a bomb shelter in the playground of St Andrew’s with a few small children in our gas masks as we had to take them everywhere with us. We were all very frightened as the bombs were very loud.

“Willoughby Crescent was just across the road from the school and I so wanted to get home but a policeman stopped me. Then I saw my Gran, Ron and Shirley carrying our pet canary. They said the cage had been thrown across the room but was okay.

“Gran took us to the Arlington Arms for lemonade and a huge round of arrowroot biscuits. Then Mother and Father came home to no house.

“Mum and Dad found a new home so Mum put the curtains up before going into hospital for an operation for appendicitis. Very sadly she died. My poor father was left to get the house ready to live in, grieve for his wife of 34-years-old and get help for three children.

“His sister came to look after us. She was single and a godsend and we loved her dearly.

“We all married and had children but Dad never remarried. When Aunty was ill, I looked after my Dad for 17 years. My Dad was our hero. He was an ARP warden and worked very hard. He often came home upset at the things he dealt with through the disasters from the bombing as Eastbourne had a great deal of bombings.

“The new house was near the sea so we always saw a lot of things going on. The sea had loads of barrage balloons the length of the sea to help stop the hit and run planes. There were loads, also the V2 rockets with flames coming out the back.

“We had to stand on the garden wall waiting for it to pass our house as if it stopped it just fell. One day it did stop and when we all ran to our shelter, it ended up in Astaire Avenue.

“The war did effect us. Shirley was always a very nervous person. Ronnie was very quiet and I cannot watch war films without tears.”

The family of Daisy Ruth Gurr who was killed in the bombing raid on Marks & Spencer in Eastbourne in December 1942 has also been in touch.

Daisy was 27-years-old and a fire guard who lived in Dennis Road, later renamed Dursley Road.

Daisy’s grandchildren Dave Goldsmith and Lin Walshaw said their mother Molly was at home poorly with tonsillitis at the time and her mother Daisy had only popped out to the shops to grab some shopping when the bomb hit the store.