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Lowestoft in the Second World War

In July 2016 a small collection of personal papers belonging to Phyllis Page of Lowestoft was deposited at the Lowestoft Record Office (2433). Amongst the documents were three small notebooks enigmatically entitled “RAIDS”.

A closer inspection of these notebooks revealed detailed information concerning air raids on Lowestoft between 1940 and 1944. It appears that Phyllis who lived in London Road South, aged seventeen in 1939, made a careful note in her notebooks EVERY TIME the air raid sirens sounded during this whole period. Moreover, not only did she record the day and date but also the exact time the siren sounded followed by the time of the “All Clear”, noting the duration and event. The end result gives a fascinating insight into the stresses that Lowestoft residents must have undergone during these war years.

For example, between 5.25am on Friday, 6th September, 1940 and 5am on the 7th the air raid sirens sounded no less than eight times, giving warnings that lasted for 35 minutes to 8½hours! Records show that during this period no bombs fell on Lowestoft, but the strain on people’s nerves must have been intense as they ducked in and out of the air raid shelters uncertain of what the next few hours held in store.

Phyllis’s total number of alarms for the whole war is 2,047 but there were only 105 actual attacks on the district during this time.

The figures found in Port War: Lowestoft At War, 1939-45 by Ford Jenkins with Phyllis Page’s diaries records, 1940-44.