AIR RAIDS ON BRIXHAM
The recording of air raids was done by a number of organisations
and in the chaos of war, some were far too busy on the ground
about paperwork so the list below is not yet complete.
Reading various sources in 2008, one gets the impression that nothing much happened to Brixham by way of bombing. The official Civil Defence Records
paint a rather different picture: raids on nearby places such as Churston are not included in the list below - these are solely the dates of raids on Brixham itself:
15 July 1940
20 August 1940
30 December 1940
17 January 1941
27 February 1941
12 March 1941
11 May 1941
19 May 1941*
27 March 1942
6 May 1942*
12 July 1942
29 Jul 1942
21 January 1942 - 1st raid
21 January 1942 - 2nd raid
29 May 1943
Perhaps the fact that only the two raids marked * produced fatalities has contributed to the legend that Brixham got off fairly lightly compared to other places in Devon but it was a nerve racking time for
the inhabitants because these were mostly "tip and run" raids - i.e. the planes skimmed in over Berry Head so suddenly that there was no time for an air raid warning to sound. The BBC and Devon County Library Services have both collected a number of personal
accounts of wartime experiences and we are grateful to Plymouth Library Services for this extract by a former Brixham resident whose name is not given:
"We went outside to sit on the wall above Brixham Harbour. We heard the planes but there was no air raid warning so we thought they were British. No such luck! As we watched, we saw the bombs leave the plane and we all dashed indoors. As
many as possible squeezed into the cupboard under the stairs - I couldn't as I suffered from asthma. We had all our windows out and a ceiling came down as well as damage to our roof. There was a new bungalow a couple of streets away and it was demolished."
Courtesy of Plymouth Library Services
Garnet Tucker (see below) was killed working on his fishing boat out in the harbour. A house in Fore Street was struck
by a time bomb and 14 year-old Geoffrey Hill (see below), whose first day at work it was, was trying to get to the Preston family who lived there when the bomb exploded and killed him. There are some references to time bombs falling on Middle Street as well
but if there were fatalities, the names of those have not yet been discovered. A coal barge named London City was "sunk" at her moorings no fewer than three times, and was salvaged on each occasion.
Civilian Frederick Clarence Adams. of 58 Victoria Road, Dartmouth. Son of Mr.
W. H. Adams and husband of Kate Adams. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works at Dartmouth aged 22.
David Bott.of 25 Crowther's Hill, Dartmouth. Son of George Bott, of Ranscombe Road, and of the late Elizabeth Ann Bott; husband of Vera Bott. Died at Philip's Noss Works at Dartmouth aged 28.
Civilian Jack George Bustin of 25 Hill Park Terrace, Paignton . Husband of Gladys Bustin. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works at Dartmouth aged 52.
Civilian Rosie Annie Crang.of 4 Greens Court, Higher Street, Dartmouth. Daughter of William and Lily Crang,
Injured at Noss Works at Dartmouth 18 September 1942; died same day at Brixham Hospital aged 20.
Thomas Farr of 3 Britannia Avenue, Dartmouth.Son of the late John Farr. Born in Dartmouth in the June Quarter of 1884. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works at Dartmouth aged 58.
Civilian Air Raid Warden Richard Franklin. of 183 Victoria Road, Dartmouth. Son of Lieut. G. and Mrs. Franklin, of Eversrey, Whitefield Road, New Milton, Hampshire; husband of Jennie Franklin.
Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works, Dartmouth, aged 26.
Civilian Firewatcher (child) and
member of St. John's Ambulance Brigade, Geoffrey Western Hill of Devonia, Mount Rd., Brixham. Son of Councillor William E. Hill and Edith Marjorie Hill, of Devonia, Mount Road, Brixham. Born in Brixham in 1927. Died 19 May 1941 at 60 Fore Street, Brixham aged
14. This was his first day at work.
Civilian Lionel Edgar Holden of 9 Ferndale Villas, Dartmouth. Husband
of Lilian Holden. Born in the June Quarter of 1898. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works at Dartmouth aged 44.
Civilian Fireman in the N.F.S George Herbert Frank Little of 1 Agra Villas, Lower Road, Kingswear. Son of Frank Arthur Little and Eleanor Ruth Little. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works, Dartmouth, aged 17.
Civilian Henry James Luckhurst of 3 Above Town, Dartmouth. Husband of Edith Emily Luckhurst ( née Swan) of Faversham.
Born at Hollingbourne in the June Quarter of 1872. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works, Dartmouth aged 70.
Civilian John Martin of Preston Villa, Milton Street, Dartmouth. Husband of Edith Alice Martin. Born at Newton Abbot in the September Quarter of 1894. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works, Dartmouth, aged 48.
Civilian Ernest Poole of 15 Brown's Hill, Dartmouth. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Poole, of Brimscombe, Stroud, Gloucestershire
and husband of Edith S. F. Poole. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works, Dartmouth, aged 51.
member of the Home Guard Sydney James Alfred Pope of 41 Britannia Avenue, Dartmouth. Son of Alfred William and Emily Selina Pope. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works, Dartmouth, aged 17.
Civilian Ellen Goad Preston (née Ellis) of 60 Fore Street, Brixham. Wife of the late Frank Preston and mother of Ellen and Frank (see below). Born in Brixham
in the September Quarter of 1866. Died at 60 Fore Street 19 May 1941 aged 74.
Civilian Ellen Stella
Preston ("Stella") of 60 Fore Street, Brixham. Daughter of Frank and Ellen Goad Preston. Born in Brixham in 1891. Died at 60 Fore Street 19 May 1941 aged 50.
Civilian Frank Preston of 60 Fore Street, Brixham. Son of Frank and Ellen Goad Preston. Born in Brixham in the September Quarter of 1893. Died at 60 Fore Street, Brixham aged 48.
EWART EDGAR TRANT
Civilian Ewart Edgar Trant of Yew Tree Cottage, Manor St., Dittisham. Son of John and Hilda Trant (née Hutchings); husband
of May Trant. Born in Brixham in the September Quarter of 1915. Died at Philip's Noss Works 18 September 1942 aged 27.
NELLA EILEEN TREBILCOCK
Civilian of Lanarth, Indian Queens, Fraddon, Cornwall. Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Osborne, of the same address; wife of William Cyril Trebilcock (H.M. Forces). Born in Cornwall in the September Quarter of 1914. Died 18 September
1942 at Philip's Noss Works aged 28.
Civilian fisherman Garnet Tucker of 9 Belle View Terrace, Ranscombe
Road, Brixham. Son of John and Sarah Tucker of Brixham; husband of Polly Tucker (née Couch). Born in Brixham in 1880. Died at Outer Harbour 6 May 1942 aged 62. Killed on his fishing boat near the breakwater.
FREDERICK THOMAS SKINNER VICKERY
Civilian of 5 Belgravia Terrace, Fore Street, Kingswear. Son of Mrs. F. K. Vickery (née Reed), of 3 Curwoods Buildings,
West Exe South, Tiverton; husband of Brenda W. Vickery. Born in Tiverton in the June Quarter of 1914. Died 18 September 1942 at Philip's Noss Works aged 28.
Relating to the bombing of Brixham,
the London City is referred to as a coal barge but a more correct description would be ‘coaling hulk’ as she was a real ship; in fact I have always understood that she was a former German ship that had been seized after the first
World War. She was indeed sunk three times but was not raised after the third time and broken up much later after the war.
I have compared the list of air raids with one I made some years ago from copies
of the ARP Incident Book held in Torquay Library. One thing I noted was that the sinkings of the London City took place on 13 July 1940 at 1330, 27 Feb 1941 at 13.25 and 31 March 1942 at 1340.
last raid is not in your list, but neither is another recorded as being on the harbour at 2050 on 11 May 1941 for which the incident book records 6 HE bombs from 8 aircraft, a trawler sunk, 2 personal injuries and 2 properties damaged. A similar raid
(in which I have a personal interest) which is not in the list is one recorded on 14 May 1942 at 1850 on the harbour and quay by 4 aircraft dropping 4 HE bombs (3 in the harbour and 1 on the quay); a small trawler was sunk, there was 1 personal injury
and 15 houses damaged. I lived with my mother and sister in one of those properties (my father was in the RAF) and we had to be evacuated for a while until windows and ceilings were replaced and furnishings dried out from the sea water that had
been blown in. It was the bomb that blew the trawler apart that caused our damage and I later found a beam from it in our back garden, it having travelled completely over our roof.
raid I copied was on 18 June 1942 at 0600 on Furzeham and I have the last 3 entries in your list as being 21 January 1943 and 29 May 1944. As stated
on the web site, there were no warnings of the tip and run raids, some of which are recorded as involving machine gun and cannon fire as well as the bombs."
Let me introduce myself. I am Pierre Logghe. I was a Belgian refugee
during the war, in Brixham. I can consider myself a Brixham boy. I first went to the National School in Bolton Street, then went later to Furzeham School in the afternoon and the Belgian School in the morning. I was 11 years old when the war broke out.
On Wednesday 15 July 1940, I happened to be present at the bombing of the London City (mentioned
by Bruce Peeke in his article). A friend and I were on the beach, at the beginning of the breakwater when we saw a twin-engine plane diving at us. We plunged under a stone staircase. All this happened in five seconds. We heard an explosion, and creeping
from under the stairs we sae black smoke rising from the London City and could see she was sinking. To give a reference to the time, this happened at midday because we normally had our dinner at 12.o'clock and I lived at 25 King Street and
had to be home for dinner. That was our first bomb after our escape and the bombardment we passed through in Dieppe.
A month later,
we went to live in Overgang Street. The London City was refloated in 1941 and a few days later bombed. But the bombs passed through her after deck, and out through the stern without damaging her seriously. In 1942, the Belgian School had
a classroom in the cloakroom of the Town Hall. We were having a French lesson when we heard bombs falling. Our teacher was so afraid that he left us so we ran to the harbour to see what happened and there was the London City sinking with
a gap in her side where the engine room was.
On Monday 19 May 1940 while I was again attending the Belgian School (this time in
a room in the Sunday School of the Baptist Church). we heard explosions and smelt gas. Everyone left the school and I had to scramble over the brick-strewn Middle Street. One bomb fell near the gas tank which began to leak.; another fell on the off-licence
in Fore Street, killing the parents of a National School friend of mine. When I lived in Overgang Street, the planes flew at the height of our cellar window when they flew in, following the line of the New Road. They attacked the shipyard with poor results.
Only one time bomb fell on Brixham. During the night, we were awakened by the siren and we went to shelter in an old shed built into the rocks
on the street. A German bomber passed by and later on the all-clear sounded and we went home. An explosion was heard in the morning and a row of houses on the other side of the harbour to where we lived was damaged. I remember too being woken up in the night
by the explosion in Furzeham.
Once, I was with my father and other fishermen on the Overgang Steps (where the Customs and Harbour
Master's offices were). It was in the afternoon when suddenly four yellow-nosed Heinkels came into view, dropping bombs on the ships lying at anchor. Everyone went behind the wall; when we peered over it we saw a sinking fishing boat nearby. Another
vessel, which had been moored alongside a fishing smack, was now without masts and the mast of the other smack was sticking out of the water. Luckily, my father's ship was far from where the bombs dropped. As it was high water, some boats in the inner harbour
started their engines and put themselves on each side of the sinking N45. Passing steel wires under the damaged vessel, they brought her into the inner harbour. They then brought in the fishing boat without its mast.On board was the owner, who, with his son,
had been working on the engine at the very moment the bomb exploded on the smack which had been alongside. The boat without masts never sailed again. It was docked in the inner harbour in front of the inner pier, and later, during another aeroplane attack,
a bomb fell in front opening all the planks. I remember a friend of ours who lived in the New Road in front of the paint works. He was afraid and moved to the Parkham Road to be safer, and later on, a bomb fell in front of the house where he lived but in the
lower part near Bolton Street, without causing any damage.
Three times, German planes gunned my father while he was fishing, but
the last time was the worst. My father's ship was the O.280 Pierre, War Number 128 - previously it had been the old Brixham smack BM1 Superb. He saw the German planes passing and entering the River Dart. A moment later, they were
back and unfortunately he was in their path. When he saw the planes coming he rushed below deck; there was the sound of cannon fire and the motor started running on one cylinder and water was flooding the ship. Coming up on deck. he found half of the mast
shot away and a hole in the hull just on the waterline. My father had, by way of precaution, made a sort of shelter on the fore deck by placing iron ballast ingots. These ingots slipped to the starboard side, causing the ship to list, so the hole on
the port side came above the water level. They were then able to plug this hole with a wooden tap they used to close the screw shaft when in repair. On another Belgian ship, the skipper had, that same day, run for cover from the helm and lost his
leg - he died later in hospital. Two ships were lost through mines and the third by an explosion in their net; they managed to get to shore but their boat then sank.
Hoping this was some contribution to the history of Brixham,
Retired deepsea fishery Captain.
June 16 2012.