Looking Back: The end of the Eastbourne during the war years series


This week we conclude our trip down Memory Lane looking at the war years in Eastbourne.

Over the last few months we have been publishing photographs and extracts from the book, Eastbourne 1939-1945 very kindly brought in to office by a Looking Back reader and have also been putting these stories on line at www.eastbourneherald.co.uk and the Facebook group, Eastbourne’s Gone But Not Forgotten, where people have been adding their own memories.

We finish this week with some strange but true stories from the war as well as the final photographs of where bombs landed in the town and across Sussex. Also included are two of the most popular photographs showing bomb damage in Grove Road and outside the Cavendish Hotel on Eastbourne seafront.

Editor N Hardy writes, “On a very misty day, with low cloud enveloping the top of the Downs, a two seater Defiant aircraft crashed into the top of Beachy Head near the Signal Station.

“Signal Station and Observer Corps personnel made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to rescue the two members of the crew from the blazing aircraft in spite of exploding ammunition and petrol tanks.

“On another occasion a Dakota crashed within a few yards of the same spot and burst into flames. In spite of the intense heat, one member of the crew was rescued alive by RAF Police and Observer Corps personnel though he died soon afterwards. One member of the crew of the aircraft was thrown clear when the plane crashed and lived to tell the tale.

“A Polish Spitfire pilot, returning from a sweep ‘over the other side’ lost his pal ‘in the drink’ and used up all of his petrol circling round him. He just reached land and crashed at Langney Green. He was badly injured when found by the police, who asked him, if he was alright. Saying nothing about his wounds, the pilot replied in broken English, ‘Just look at my watch – the glass is broken.’”