Bournemouth WWII air raid 70th anniversary memorial unveiled

Nearly 200 people, mostly Allied airmen staying at the Metropole Hotel, died in the Luftwaffe raid on 23 May 1943

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A memorial to victims of a World War II bombing raid in Bournemouth 70 years ago has been unveiled.

Nearly 200 people, mostly Allied airmen staying at the Metropole Hotel, died in the Luftwaffe raid on 23 May 1943.

The hotel site, in the Lansdowne area of the town, is now home to Bournemouth University's Royal London House.

Canadian veterans and senior diplomats were among those attending the ceremony in Lansdowne Crescent, opposite the university building.

The memorial was unveiled by Mayor Phil Stanley-Watts and the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Valerie Pitt-Rivers.

'Hard to believe'

Of all the bombing suffered by Bournemouth from 1940 to 1944, the 1943 raid was the deadliest - 26 Focke Wolf 190 planes dropped 25 high-explosive bombs on the town, destroying 22 buildings and damaging a further 3,000.

During the war, thousands of Allied troops, including at least 10,000 Canadians, were billeted in the town, with many housed in requisitioned hotels.

Memorial to victims of WWII bombing raid More than 2,200 bombs fell on Bournemouth during World War II

The Central Hotel in Richmond Hill, Beales department store in Old Christchurch Rd and the Metropole Hotel were among the buildings destroyed in the raid.

Nearly 40 damaged structures, including Punshon Memorial Church in Richmond Hill, also had to be demolished.

David Kelsey, Bournemouth borough councillor for East Cliff and Springbourne, said: "It's hard to believe this only happened 70 years ago and there are people in the town who still remember it.

"The impact of these air raids would have been devastating to the town's residents.

"It's really important that we never forget those who lost their lives protecting this country and this memorial is a very fitting tribute."

More than 2,200 bombs fell on Bournemouth during World War II, killing up to 350 civilians and servicemen.

Nearly 14,000 buildings were affected, with 75 destroyed, 171 demolished and thousands more damaged.

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