Waller’s Raid, 13 January 1942
Snow was falling on Lowestoft on 13th January, 1942 when at 4.20pm in the afternoon the air raid sirens sounded the alert. Seven minutes later a lone Dornier Do 217, bearing the Holzammer (“Mallet”) insignia of Luftwaffe’s 9/KG.2 unit and piloted by Oberleutnant Ernst Walbaum, swept low over the town centre. Following the course of London Road North it dropped four high explosive bombs which fell into the shopping centre. The effect was devastating and in a few seconds a row of shops and buildings were reduced to rubble and many more were damaged by blast.
Twelve buildings, Nos. 86 to 108 on the east side of London Road were totally destroyed, and many more on the opposite of the road and in the immediate vicinity were badly damaged. Seventy-one people, civilians and service personnel alike, were killed and the body of one victim was never found. The shops and businesses hit and destroyed were Aldertons (Footwear) Ltd.; Morlings Music Shop; Trueform Boot Company Ltd.; J. Hepworth & Sons, Outfitters (with five apartments above in one of which was located the Dental Practice of Peter Walter Davis), Chipperfields Hardware Store in The Marina at the rear of No. 100, Fifty Shilling Tailors Ltd., Boots the Chemist and shopping arcade, W. B. Cooper, Ltd., China Dealer, Eve Brown Gowns, Bonsall’s the Jewellers, R. Waller & Sons restaurant and grocery.
Many of the victims that were killed were in Waller’s Restaurant at the time and this raid, the worst raid of the war, has entered into the annals of Lowestoft’s history as “The Waller’s Raid”.
The ages of those killed ranged from two years to seventy years and some bodies were not recovered for over two days despite rescue teams working through the night under specially constructed arc-lamps.
Amongst the dead were Dorothy and Ernest Bonsall, proprietors of the jewellery shop and Ernest Morling, owner of the music shop. Ironically, Morling’s previous shop situated further north on London Road had been bombed out less than a year earlier, and his private house in Old Nelson Street, Lowestoft had also been bombed!
Other victims included Mrs. Emma Beard aged 52, her daughter, Edith Paul aged 27 and grandson, David Paul aged 2, who were in a shop (probably Eve Brown Gowns) buying mourning attire to wear at the funeral of Mrs. Beard’s husband who had died three days earlier. All four family members were buried together in Lowestoft cemetery six days later.
In Davis’ dental surgery above Hepworths at No. 102, Mr. Davis, aged 44, was himself killed together with 43 year old George Gayfer and his 24 years old son, Leslie Gayfer. Mr. Gayfer was employed there as a Dental Mechanic and his son was training to be the same. Also in the surgery and killed with them was a patient, 14 year old Ruby Copping of Lowestoft and a Dental Traveller, 50 year old Wilfred Wardill from Luton.
Alfred Ernest Slater, the 50 year old Manager of Fifty Shilling Tailors was also killed, but he died shielding the body of his 17 year old assistant, Beryl Bunn who was rescued with injuries to her legs. Mr. Slater was killed by the rubble and debris that fell on top of him.
Twenty of the seventy victims were service personnel. Seventeen from the Royal Navy (three of whom were WRNS) and three soldiers from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.
Among the WRNS who were killed was a local girl, Leading Wren Laura Beatrice Bessant, the daughter of Robert and Florence of 263 Raglan Street. She was buried along side her Royal Navy colleagues in Lowestoft Cemetery on 19th January.
As well as those killed 116 people were injured, many seriously. Rescuers told the lightly injured to make their own way to the First Aid Post of The Royal Naval Patrol Service Headquarters, HMS EUROPA, in Sparrow’s Nest park half a mile or so to the north.
Three Lowestoft men, George Arthur Read, William Bernard Eade and Claude Edward Smith, part of No. 2 (North) Rescue Team, were later awarded the British Empire Medal for their “endurance and initiative” throughout the rescue operation over the next few days and nights.
Another hero was Private John Scott of the 7th Battalion (TA), The Border Regiment who was awarded the George Medal for “his conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner”.
|Dora Elizabeth ALDRED||Age 14||2 Princes Road, Lowestoft||Shop Assistant, Daughter of Alfred F. & Alice Aldred.|
|Winifred Arabella BAKER||Age 27||4 Gisleham Cottages, Carlton Colville||Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant|
|Emma BEARD||Age 52||8 Queens Road, Lowestoft||Widow, Probably killed at No.94, Eve Brown Gowns|
|Dorothy Mary BONSALL||Age 42||“Glenesk”, Beccles Road, Oulton Broad||Both killed at No. 92 in their Jewellers Shop|
|Ernest BONSALL||Age 63|
|Agnes Victoria BULLARD||Age 40||20 Ipswich Road, Lowestoft||Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s Restaurant|
|Agnes Joyce BUTCHER||Age 15||183 St. Peter’s Street, Lowestoft||Daughter of William & Ethel S. Butcher|
|Daisy Alice CONSTANCE||Age 28||9 Coronation Terrace, Pakefield||Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s Restaurant|
|Ruby Irene COPPING||Age 24||173 London Road North, Lowestoft||Dental patient, killed at No. 102 London Rd North|
|Dorothy Rose CRISPIN||Age 35||1 Bixley Road, Lowestoft||Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.- unmarried|
|Mary Emma CROSS||Age 19||Council House, Flixton Nr. Lowestoft||Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.|
|Percy Walter DAVIS||Age 44||“Bramley”, Normanston Drive, Lowestoft||Dentist, killed at No. 102 London Road North.|
|Megan Barbara EDMONDS||Age 18||67 Lorne Park Road, Lowestoft||Shop Assistant, Daughter of William & Gladys Edmonds|
|Lucy Lillian FLEMING||Age 18||24 Nile Road, Gorleston||Shop Assistant, daughter of William & Helen Fleming|
|Lucy Evelyn FREDERICK||Age 48||15 StationRoad, Beccles.||Catering Manager, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.|
|Laura Alice GALL||Age 52||63 Corton Road, Lowestoft||School Mistress, single|
|Maurice GARROD||Age 17||Tintern House, Chapel Street, Lowestoft||Radio Engineer, killed at Morlings, No. 106|
|George Birkwood GAYFER||Age 43||74 Long Road Lowestoft||Dental Mechanic, killed at No. 102 London Rd North|
|Leslie Birkwood GAYFER||Age 14||Trainee Dental Mechanic, son of George Gayfer|
|Lilian Beatrice GEORGE||Age 57||The Bungalows, London Road, Wangford||Shop Assistant, probably killed at Hepworths No. 102|
|Oliver GOLDING||Age 50||82 Lowestoft Road, Carlton Colville||Shop Assistant, Killed at Waller’s Grocery, Nos 86/88.|
|Susie Dorothea HAMBLY||Age 48||108, Clapham Road, Lowestoft||Housewife, Wife of Bertie J. Hambly|
|Iris May HOOD||Age 16||27 St. Margaret’s Plain, Lowestoft||Typist, Daughter of Victor & Winifred Hood.|
|Doris Betty HOWE||Age 17||6 Fir Lane, Lowestoft||Cashier at Waller’s Restaurant (body never found)|
|Margery Gertrude KERRISON||Age 38||“Pauline”, Long Lane, Corton||Body not found. Killed at Waller’s.|
|Nora Kathleen LACON||Age 47||Flat 2, Kingsley House, Lowestoft||Chemist, killed at Morlings, No. 106 – unmarried|
|Edith Ruby LAMBERT||Age 27||1 Compass Street, Lowestoft||Shop Assistant, killed at Morlings, No.106 – unmarried|
|Ellen Eliza MILLS||Age 67||303 Victoria Road, Oulton Broad||Widow of George Mills.|
|Mildred Jenny MILLS||Age 58||“West Leigh”, Kirkley Park Road||Housewife, Wife of Arthur E. Mills.|
|Ethel May MOORE||Age 23||123 Beccles Road, Oulton Broad||Shop Assistant, – unmarried|
|Audrey May MORGAN||Age 34||75 Beccles Road, Oulton Broad||Wife of Robert Morgan, Pte K.O.S.B.|
|Ernest Jabez MORLING||Age 70||45 Gunton Drive, Lowestoft||Killed in his shop, No.106.|
|David Stephen PAUL||Age 2||96 Somerton Avenue, Lowestoft||killed at No. 94 with mother & grandmother|
|Edith Lucy PAUL||Age 27||Mother of Paul, killed at No. 94 – married|
|Gertrude Annie PAYNTER||Age 57||10 Delamere Road, Ealing Common||Outfitter’s Agent, widow|
|Elsie Thelma PETHERICK||Age 19||Lilac Cottage, Wenhaston||Head Waitress, killed at Waller’s, unmarried|
|Emily Sarah PINKNEY||Age 51||36 Sycamore Avenue, Oulton Broad||Supervisor at Rist’s Wireless& Cables, widow.|
|John Armitage ROBERTSON||Age 39||“Whitethorns”, Romany Road, O. B.||Air Observer, killed at Waller’s|
|Alfred Ernest SLATER||Age 46||78 Alexander Road, Lowestoft.||Shop Manager, killed at Fifty Shilling Tailors, No. 100|
|Dorothy Elsie SNELLING||Age 30||1 Hawes Place, Hall Road, Norwich||Married woman. Wife of William G. Snelling.|
|Lillian, TALBOT||Age 57||7 Corton Crossways, Lowestoft||Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s, unmarried|
|Olive Rita THROWER||Age 20||Sandy Lane, Gisleham||Cook, killed at Waller’s, unmarried|
|Malvinia WARD||Age 58||11 Colman Road, Corton||Assistant Cook, killed at Waller’s, unmarried.|
|Wilfrid George WARDILL||Age 50||16 Brantwood Road, Luton.||Dental Traveller, killed at No. 102.|
|Beryl Joan WHITING||Age 20||17 Fir Lane, Lowestoft||Manageress, unmarried.|
|Muriel Evelyn Jean WHITLAM||Age 20||8 Oakland Terrace, Kessingland||Kitchen Hand, killed at Wallers, unmarried.|
|Elsie Harriet Doreen WINCUP||Age 14||2 School Cottages, Carlton Colville||Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s|
|Doris Louisa WOODMAN||Age 32||15 Rowington Road, Norwich||Married woman, wife of Francis N. Woodman.|
|Barbara Laura WRIGHT||Age 16||16 Worthing Road, Lowestoft||Shop Assistant, Killed at Morlings, No. 106.|
|Gladys May WRIGHT||Age 26||55 Wollaston Road, Lowestoft||Married woman, wife of Jack F. Wright, recently married.|
JOSEPH BAKER, Age 24, Paymaster Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Son of William John and Maud Annie Baker, of Alford.
ALFORD CEMETERY, LINCOLNSHIRE
LAURA BEATRICE BESSANT, Age 36, Leading Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service
Daughter of Robert F. Bessant and Florence C. Bessant, of 263 Raglan Street, Lowestoft.
GEORGE ROBERT BURWOOD, Skipper, Age 34, Royal Naval Reserve
Son of Isaac and Gertrude Burwood; husband of Alice Burwood, of Edinburgh.
ABERDEEN (SPRINGBANK) CEMETERY
IVY WINIFRED CREIGHTON, Age 32, Leading Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service
Daughter of Joseph Creighton and of Emily Elizabeth Creighton, of Staple, Kent
SAMUEL CUNNINGHAM, Age 18, Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of Hugh and Rachel Cunningham, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
ROBERT HARRY GRIFFITHS, Age 37, Leading Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of Mrs. L. A. Griffiths, of Shepherds Bush, London.
HESTON (ST. LEONARD) CHURCHYARD
JAMES NICHOLSON, Age 33, Assistant Cook, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of Robert and Margery Nicholson, of Spittall, Berwick-on-Tweed; husband of Eleanor Elizabeth Nicholson.
RONALD GEORGE PENFOLD, Stoker 2nd Class, Royal Naval Patrol Service
FREDERICK WILLIAM PHILLIPS, Age 18, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of Ernest Harold and Edith Alice Phillips, of Romford, Essex.
GEORGE SCOTT, Age 28, Stoker, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of William and Margaret Scott, of Leeds, Yorkshire; husband of Amelia Scott, of Leeds.
MARY MARGARET IRIS THOMPSON Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service
Daughter of George Ritchie Thompson and Isabella Mary Thompson of Holt, Norfolk.
HOLT BURIAL GROUND
JOHN EDWARD URE, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of William Patrick and Kathleen Ure, of Leeds.
LEEDS ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY
FREDERICK EDWIN WALKER, Age 38 Ordinary Seaman, Royal Navy
Son of George Edwin and Mary Jane Walker; husband of Vera Alice Beatrice Walker, of Boscombe, Bournemouth.
PORTSMOUTH (KINGSTON) CEMETERY
ROBERT ALFRED CHARLES WARD, Age 28 Stoker, Royal Naval Reserve
Son of Alfred Smith Ward and Emily Ward, of Cardiff; husband of Jean Ward, of Ardrossan, Ayrshire.
CARDIFF (CATHAYS) CEMETERY
JACK WATSON, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of John Edward and Nellie Watson, of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.
ALEXANDER WEST Leading Seaman, Age 36, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of James and Bessie West, of Gardenstown. Aberdeenshire.
GAMRIE NEW PARISH CHURCHYARD
CYRIL WILLIAMS, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service
Son of Edward and Sarah Williams, of Cheadle Heath, Stockport.
CHEADLE AND GATLEY CEMETERY
WILLIAM JOHN BUSBY, Age 24, Private, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment.
Son of George and Margaret E. Busby, of Yardley Wood, Birmingham.
BIRMINGHAM (HANDSWORTH) CEMETERY
ARTHUR GEORGE BROWN, Age 24, Lance Corporal, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment
Son of Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Brown, of Bedford; husband of E. E. Brown.
BEDFORD CEMETERY, BEDFORDSHIRE
FREDERICK WALTER PRATT, Age 20, Private, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment
Son of Walter Richard and Beatrice Annie Pratt, of Dunstable