- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mrs F. Burgess, Mrs F.A.Norwood
- Location of story:
- Corporation Street, Grange Road, Gillingham, Medway, North Kent
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 05 October 2004
Recollections of the B26 crash at Corporation Road, Gillingham, June 1944
In the early hours of June 6th 1944, the sky was alive with wave after wave of aircraft, the throbbing of their engines filled the air, then approximately 5:30 am, all hell broke loose, then suddenly the sound of a plane screaming down. My daughter and I rushed to the front of the house in Corporation Road where we lived, in time to see the houses opposite collapsing. We then went to the back garden and there the bomber had settled in the garden a few doors up from us, killing 3 people and a dog. The house was burning. Looking toward Rainham we saw another plane hustle down a mile away. We learned later that 2 Marauders had collided in mid-air. The crews of both machines were killed. (It was D-Day.)
We were evacuated for a fortnight while the wreckage and bombs were cleared from the road, fortunately none of which exploded although some were in a sorry state (the street was cordoned off.) I had to go home the next day to collect a few things - the policeman who escorted me was puzzled how bricks and rubble had landed in the hallway at the foot of the stairs- no windows broken, even the glass in the door intact. He said it must have gone over our heads when we stood in the street, he said we were very lucky. On leaving the house he pointed to the bodies of the airmen covered with a canvas, "strapping fellows" to use his own words.
Six houses were demolished that day, an experience I never ever want to witness again.
(Copied from notes written by Mrs F Burgess)
Recollections of the B26 crash near Grange Road, Gillingham - June 1944
Early one morning, I was woken by the sound of aircraft. I never used to go into the air raid shelter along with the other people in the street, but kept my 2 year old daughter in a cot next to my bed in case anything happened: I picked her up and opened a bedroom window to look out. The aircraft were getting nearer, so I went downstairs with Christine and opened the front door for a better view: perhaps 50 planes were heading east, quite low and in close formation. Two of them suddenly left the formation, one veered away out of sight and the other plunged into the orchard right in front of my house.
There was a big explosion and Christine and I found ourselves thrown behind the open front door. Then there was the sound of ammunition going off for what seemed a long time but was probably just a few minutes. The neighbours who returned from the shelters later knew nothing of what had happened but found windows and doors blown out by the blast, all along the road. The area of the crash was roped off and guarded while the wreckage was searched and cleared; obviously the bombs had exploded on impact so the crew would have died instantly. I heard later that the second aircraft had crashed in Corporation Road, a few doors from my sister-in-law.
During the 1950's Mrs Jean Noble, formerly one of our neighbours in Grange Road, saw a letter in a local newspaper referring to the incident: an American couple were seeking information about the crash, in which their son had died. Later the couple came to Gillingham and Mrs Noble showed them the crash sites. Unfortunately we were not at home at the time so we have no further information regarding their name or whereabouts.
(Compiled from conversations with Mrs F A Norwood)
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