Stories of those who died in Eastbourne during Second World War

Our look at the stories behind those who died in the Eastbourne in the Second World War continues this week.

Sunday, 8th April 2018, 2:04 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:33 am

The team behind the new Eastbourne Civilian War Memorial situated at the Wish Tower have been appealing for information on the 180 people who died.

Julie Snowball’s grandfather’s brother Harry Shadbolt is on the roll of honour.

Julie writes, “Harry was born in 1899 and lived at 93 Cavendish Place.

Harry Shadbolt SUS-180304-122109001

“He was the son of Alfred John Shadbolt and Edith Annie Shadbolt.

He joined the troops in the First World War at the age of 14 but was injured and lost an eye.

“In the Second World War, he was injured by an enemy bomb on October 2 1940 in South Street, Eastbourne, and died later that day in St Mary’s Hospital.

“Apparently the bomb was a stray one which hit the church in South Street. Harry was leaving the pub and was thrown up against the wall breaking every bone in his body.

“Walter, Harry’s brother who was my grandfather, was doing bomb disposal in London and rushed back down to the hospital.

“Harry passed away once he saw him.”

David Boniface has also contacted us regarding another name on the roll of honour, his grandmother Ethel Boniface, who died as a result of bombing in Willoughby Crescent on October 28 1941.

It was at 9.39am a single Dornier Do17 dropped four HE bombs in the Archery area from Churchdale Road to Southbourne Road near its junction with Seaside.

The first three hit houses in Churchdale Road, gardens behind them and houses in WIlloughby Crescent.

Mr Boniface writes, “Most of what I know was told to me by my father.

“My grandmother, Ethel May, was 50 when she died. Her husband, George James Boniface was about the same age and lived until February 1972. I was born in 1947 in London and so never knew my grandmother and did not know my grandfather very well.

“George James is described as a hotel head waiter on Ethel’s death certificate and I recall my father telling me that he worked at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne. In those days it appears that death certificates of women describe the husband’s occupation and not the woman’s.

“It seems likely that with a very young child, Ethel would not have worked outside the home. The cause of death on the certificate is described as ‘due to war operations’. I believe the house received a direct hit and was demolished.

“Ethel May and her husband George James had three children. My father, also called George who was born in 1915 and died in 1991, a daughter called Vera who was either a couple of years older or younger than my father, and then a third child, Michael, who was very much younger. I believe he was a very young child when the house was bombed in 1942.

“The story in the family is that Ethel was at home with Michael and heard the planes overhead or the bombs falling and threw herself on top of Michael to shield him and in doing so was killed, but Michael survived.

“I have my father’s birth certificate which, according to my father, was rescued from the ruins of the house. It has some brown marks on it which are said to be due to charring from the fire which followed the bombing.

“Vera went on to live in Glasgow, but I do not believe there were any children. For a while, Michael also later lived in Glasgow, but the last contact my father had was in the late 1980s when he lived with his wife and two children in Whitstable.

“I have followed the plans for a new memorial based at the Wish Tower in Eastbourne with much interest and I hope there might be some sort of dedication ceremony when the work is complete. I have sent a small donation to the trust appeal.

“I am a grandfather of three myself now, and will show my grandchildren the new memorial once it is complete. Ethel was of course their great great grandmother.”