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The Baedeker Blitz April-June 1942

by 2nd Air Division Memorial Library

Contributed by 
2nd Air Division Memorial Library
People in story: 
G.D.Cordy
Location of story: 
Norwich
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3417275
Contributed on: 
16 December 2004

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Jenny Christian of the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library on behalf of Reverend G.D.Cordy and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

We had watched droves of German bombers droning over Hingham and next morning heard of the fate of Coventry. On April 27 and 28 the bombers drone woke us again and then the thump of bomb bursts made us aware that the target was Norwich about 12 miles distant by a straight line. It was not long before the sky was glowing red as the fires spread in the city.

Nevertheless next morning bus as usual to school but we were stopped by police at Earlham Fiveways and told we had to walk from there. It was a fine day but we could smell burning and we were all shocked as we began to see houses destroyed, St Thomas Church still burning, much damage to St John's R.C Cathedral but we were unprepared for the damage around Orford Place. No damage was done to our school in The Close but high explosives dropped on the playing field at Lower Close had destroyed the Scout headquarters, the groundsman's buildings and so badly damaged the pavilion and changing rooms that they were unuseable.

On the following night 29th-30th a further heavy raid again caused many major fires. I remember seeing fire machines from Bristol, Portsmouth, Oxford and Birmingham tackling fires as we again had to walk from Fiveways.

The next major raid was the fire raid in late June when it was estimated more than 20,000 incendiaries rained down on the city. A container said to have held 300 incendiaries exploded in the main playground and whilst the firewatchers put out fires in the physic labs the bicycle shed and the general stores they could do nothing about saving from total destruction the lodge which had been rebuilt in 1936.

After our long walk we arrived at school after 10 a.m. to find that all the boys had been sent home and the boarders were already out of the city. So for the ten of us boys who had no buses home till late afternoon we were taken by the headmaster into his abode for drinks and a sandwich.

About midday a truckload of Royal Marines arrived to make the area safe. We looked on and boy like were thrilled when a long thick rope was fixed around the chimney stack and we all heaved on the rope and down came the chimney to much cheering. Then we were assured the building was safe and four of us were given tin hats and allowed to salvage what we could from the debris. We recovered a surprising amount of textbooks and I still have on my study shelves some of the water damaged books that we recovered from my desk.

The loss of 4 large classrooms at Norwich School resulting from the fire raid in June 1942 meant that space had to be found if the school was to continue. Various places in the Close offered help and two large attic rooms at the Dean's residence became classrooms.

I remember the first V2 rocket attack on the city. One other boy and I were in a room at the Deanery as our bus was late arriving and we could not go into Morning worship in the school Chapel. There was a tremendous explosion on Mousehold but it was sufficient to bring down part of the ceiling in our room. Fortunately neither of us was hurt but we were covered in dust. After the explosion we heard the whistle of the rocket. The same day three V1 doodlebugs came down on the outskirts of the city. I think I'm correct in saying these were the last enemy bombs to trouble Norwich.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - V2s on Norwich

Posted on: 16 December 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Reverend Cordy

I found your story of the bombing of Norwich and your descriptions of the 1942 raids, and subsequent V1 and V2 attacks, very interesting and informative.

The first V2 attack on Norwich, which you remember, happened at 7.45 p.m. on Tuesday 3 October, 1944. The rocket broke up over the Mile Cross housing estate but the war-head hit the Royal Norwich Golf Club at Hellesdon. 400 houses were damaged, and one person died. It was only the twenty-second V2 successfully fired. It was launched from Abt. Batterie 444 at Rijsterbos, Middenlaan, in the Netherlands. A total of 44 V2s fell in the Norwich-Ipswich area. In contrast, 1,358 fell on London and 1,610 on Antwerp.

Kind regards,

Peter

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
Norfolk Category
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