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24 September 2014

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You are in: Suffolk » Don't Miss » 1953 East Coast Floods

31st January 2003
Eric Smith, Woodbridge and Southwold
Eric Smith
Eric Smith
Eric Smith was 20 years-old. He was in the Army, based in Norwich.


307 people drowned

24,000 homes flooded

1,200 breaches along 1,000 miles of coastline

160,000 acres of farmland flooded

46,000 livestock lost

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"I was home on weekend leave, unofficial leave, and the floods came along and I went to Woodbridge Station just to have a look. I went and saw the book stall manager, who was a chap called Harold Hare, and we stood on the platform and actually watched the water lapping the platform.

Woodbridge Railway Station
Eric's photo of himself on the platform at Woodbridge Railway Station in 1953

"And I thought to myself, I’m in trouble here, because the radio was saying that people had been trapped in houses and everywhere had been flooded on the coast.

"So I thought I had better get myself back to Norwich Barracks right quick, which I did and ended up going to Southwold with the army and sandbagging at Southwold. Near the St Felix Girls School on the road into Southwold.

"It was so cold it was unbelievable. It was the only time in the army we ever had a rum ration. And my trouble, being a Corporal, I weren’t allowed to do any sandbagging, I had to supervise, which was the worst thing ever, I was colder than ever.

"We went down the front because the actual road to the harbour end, the shingle had come right over and covered half the bungalows on the right hand side as you drove down there. Some of the chaps stayed there and dug out those bungalows, or the houses, and rescued the people there.

"But we were transferred to the little lane next to the St Felix Girls School and I actually worked on the wall, sandbagging...

"Terrible, freezing rain and cold. Nearly ice it was at the time – hence the rum ration."

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