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Ernest and Dorothy Bonsall

Both Ernest and Dorothy Bonsall sadly died in the Waller’s Raid on 13 January 1942. They were both killed from falling masonry, a result of four highly explosive bombs which were dropped on London Road North.  Their jeweller’s shop, Bonsalls’, was situated in the area where the bombs landed. Unfortunately, they were both in their shop at the time of the explosion at 4:30pm. The jewellers and other shops in the near vicinity were reduced to rubble and the gold and silver from Bonsalls’ was  turned to scrap by the blast.

At the time of the raid, Ernest and Dorothy were aged sixty-three and forty-four respectively and had been living at Glenesk, Beccles Road, Oulton Broad. Ernest’s brother John, an optician, identified the two bodies the following day. Ernest was found with the following items in his possession; identity card, wallet, £10 notes, pencil, watch, silver and copper cuff links, knife and two tie pins.

Ernest appears to have inherited the business from his father, John Bonsall, who ran a watchmaker’s shop at 7 Pier Terrace. In the 1930s Ernest moved the business to 92 London Road North.  By the time of the Waller’s Raid the jewellers was a very well-established business.

Family Background

Dorothy was born in 1898 in Etal, Northumberland. She was the oldest child and had three siblings, Marjorie, Gilbert and Brenda. She was the daughter of Edward and Florence Ward. Her father was born in 1848 in Timworth, Suffolk and worked as a clergyman for the Church of England. Her mother was born in 1867, in London.  The family moved to Mulbarton Rectory in Norfolk in the early 1900s, where her father continued his work as a clergyman.  He served as a vicar in various parishes around England throughout his life, including Hempnall, Etal and Mulbarton.

Ernest was born in 1879 in Lowestoft and was also the oldest child. His two siblings were Florence and John. He was the son of John and Frances Bonsall. His father was born in 1844 in Marylebone, London and was a watchmaker by trade.  His mother was born in 1846 in Kilkenny, Ireland and worked as a shop assistant.  She was widowed in 1905 when her husband was sixty-one.

Ernest was already fifty-four when he married Dorothy in 1933. She was nineteen years younger than Ernest.  Coincidentally, there was also a nineteen-year age difference between Dorothy’s parents!

Funeral

Ernest and Dorothy Bonsall were buried in Kirkley Cemetery on the 19 January 1942 in grave plot K/P/142.

Sources:

  • Kelly’s Directory of Lowestoft: 1925,1927,1930, 1932 and 1934, available at Lowestoft Record Office
  • Lowestoft Journal, 1942, viewable on microfilm at Lowestoft Record Office
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, http://www.cwgc.org/
  • East Suffolk Burial Records, http://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/community/cemeteries-and-burials/waveney-cemeteries/burial-records/
  • The Air War over Lowestoft 1935-1945 by Bob Collis & Simon Baker
  • 60th Anniversary Publication Waller’s Raid, compiled by Robert Jarvis, Heritage Workshop Centre, Lowestoft
  • Waller’s Raid 1942 – 2012, Anniversary Edition, by Robert B. Jarvis
  • Findmypast and Ancestry [Library edition], available for free in Suffolk Record Office

Julie Cullis

Searchroom Assistant

Lowestoft Record Office