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15 October 2014
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1942 — A Tragic Bank Holidayicon for Recommended story

by csvdevon

Contributed by 
csvdevon
People in story: 
David Nix, Mrs Emily Gooder, Miss Gertrude Gooder, Miss Tryphena Gooder, Mrs Richards, Mrs Strawbridge, Miss Strawbridge, Mr Jones, Mrs Jones, Miss Margaret Jones, Mr Ogden, Mrs Ogden, Master Donald Ogden, Miss Helen Hoare, Mrs Emily Rawle
Location of story: 
Torquay, Devon
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4459836
Contributed on: 
15 July 2005

This story has been written onto the BBC People’s Was site by CSV Storygatherer Louise on behalf of David Nix. The story has been added to the site with his permission and David Nix fully understands the terms and conditions of the site.

I am David Nix and I spent the early war years living, with my grandmother Mrs Emily Gooder and my aunties Miss Gertrude Gooder and Miss Tryphena Gooder, at Number Two Plainmoor Cottages, Babbacombe, Torquay.

Our cottage was the centre of a terrace of three, situated in the lane, now called ‘Fortune Way,’ and next to the ‘Fortune of War’ public house, landlady Mrs Richards.

A row of garages now occupy the site of the cottages, but the pub is still standing today. Our immediate neighbours were Mrs and Miss Strawbridge in Number One and Mr and Mrs Jones with daughter Margaret in Number Three.

Plainmoor Cottages had only front facing windows, the rear wall being common with the cottages in the courtyard behind. There was a small garden in the front, hedged and with a gate opening onto the lane.

On August bank Holiday Monday 1942, around lunchtime, with the sun shining, a low flying German fighter plane dropped a bomb which landed in the courtyard area behind our cottages.

There was a row of cottages in St Mary’s Church Road between the ‘Fortune of War’ pub and the corner where it joined Warbro Road. ‘Ogdens’ the tobacconist was on the corner, occupied at the time by Mr and Mrs Ogden and son Donald. There was also a row of cottages in Warbro Road backing onto the courtyard behind our cottages. Further cottages were in the courtyard, entered via Warbro Road.

The bomb virtually destroyed the corner, some cottages completely, others severely damaged and there were a number of casualties, some fatalities.

I was in the lane at the time with girlfriend Helen Hoare, who like myself was 13 years old. We both dived into the back entrance of the dairy, which was opposite our cottages. I ran home to find turmoil, our cottage was severely damaged, Gran under the table in the kitchen, shaken but not hurt, and Auntie Tryphena had been blown by the blast into Number One next door. She was cut and bruised and badly shaken. Auntie Gertrude was out at the time, a terrible shock for her on returning home.

Some of our downstairs furniture together with clothes and bedding was saved and put in store. We were fortunately and kindly looked after by Mrs Emily Rawle, Mrs Emily Gooder’s youngest daughter, at her home in Egerton Road, Ellacombe, for a short period until new accommodation was found.

Today on the corner site stands three adjoining blocks of flats, which link up to the ‘Fortune of War’ Pub in St Mary’s Church Road and the old houses in Warbro Road. An old fireplace can be seen in what was the back wall of a cottage and that’s all that remains today of a close knit, friendly community of the past.

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Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Devon Category
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