DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 2 August 2001

 

Sad sequel
Derek Morris, of Lyminge, President of Folkestone RAF Association, was very interested in recent Memories references to a British wartime bomber that crashed at or near Hawkinge in September, 1944 after a raid in support of Allied troops attacking the enemy's cross-Channel gun sites on the French coast.

Also a member of the 75 Squadron RAF Association, Derek tells me that a Lancaster Mark 3 'P' of 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF, from Mepal six miles west of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, crash landed at Hawkinge after a daylight attack on Boulogne on September 17, 1944.

"The attack was made from 3,000 ft to ensure accurate bombing, as Allied troops were nearby. The aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire but managed to get back across the Channel with both starboard engines stopped.

"In attempting to land at Hawkinge, the pilot was forced to overshoot, hit an obstruction and crashed. The pilot was Squadron Leader Garth . Gunn, from New Zealand, and he died four days I after the crash from his injuries.

"The Flight Engineer, Sgt J.H. Bruce was killed and Flying Officer F Smith (navigator) was injured, as was the bomb aimer Flying Officer A.M. Miller (New Zealand.) Three other crew members escaped unhurt." And Derek, of Dog Kennel Lane, Lyminge, adds:

"I have heard from a local resident that an American B24 Liberator bomber also crashed somewhere up above Etchinghill, in 1944. I hope this is of interest to Memories readers."

Cllr Peter Smith, of Folkestone, contacted me with more details of the tragedy. He tells me Squadron Leader Gunn had previously complet-
ed a tour of duty in the Middle East with 108 and 70 Squadrons, RAF and was a flight commander with 75 Squadron.

Over the target the Lancaster was hit by flak wrecking both starboard engines, and a course was set for an emergency landing at Wood-bridge, Suffolk. This was changed to Lympne and then Hawkinge, as the bomber lost height.

It eventually touched down 500 yards along the 1300 yd runway at Hawkinge, but the Lancaster bomber overran, smashing off the port undercarriage as it hit a petrol bowser before coming to a stop on striking a brick and concrete air raid shelter, and it caught fire.

"The RAF wireless operator and RNZAF air gunners. Flying Officers C.C. Robertson and S.R. Haynes survived unscathed - as did Flt-Lieut W.F.M. Naismith of the RNZAF.

Captain Garth Gunn, who died four days later from his injuries, was buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery, while Sgt Bruce rests at Jarrow Cemetery.
Major offensive
Bomber Command war diaries show that 762 aircraft took part in the Boulogne raid - 370 Lancasters, 351 Halifaxes and 41 Mosquitoes, dropping more than 3,000 tons of bombs on German positions around that port in preparation for an attack by Allied troops. The enemy garrison surrendered soon afterwards. One Halifax and one Lancaster were lost.

During that day 952 sorties were flown. These included Operation Market Garden, in which 112 Lancasters and 20 Mosquitoes attacked flak positions in the Flushing area without loss, while in a raid on Eikenhorst, 27 Lancasters and five Mosquitoes attacked a V1 rocket base, again.
remarkably, without a single loss of aircraft.

•Aviation historian Roy Humphreys, of Hawkinge, has been working on the creation of a data base for the Kent Aviation Historical Research Society, recording every aspect of Kent's aviation history over the last century.

He has also been searching for photographs of aircraft, airmen and airfields, and found that one picture he was missing was one of the former Royal Flying Corps airfield at St Mary's Bay, New Romney, known as Jesson Lane, or Littlestone.

Aerofilms Ltd, of Gate Studios, Station Road Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, came up with an
aerial view taken in May 1931, which would be a start, but it is likely they would require a reproduction fee of around 80 - which seems grossly excessive to me! Especially when it is required by a group of enthusiasts recording our historic past for future generations.

A few years ago the Folkestone Herald and its sister paper, the Dover Express, published a series of Aerofilms photographs, including some of the Hythe and Romney Marsh area, which were being offered by Aerofilms at 14.95 framed, but unfortunately, this picture was not one of them.
MEMORIES reader Mrs Mary File, of Halliday Court, Hythe sent me this picture of her parents, Mr & Mrs W. Curd, on Hythe Venetian Club's float at Hythe Venetian Fete in Coronation Year, 1953, together with their official invitation to the event. Mrs File says she believes the club, which held weekly meetings in the Institute in Prospect Road, Hythe, was formed in 1952.
 

 

Editor welcomes idea of Lord Radnor as mayor

| THE EDITOR welcomed the suggestion

JL7U>L of a reader that the appointment of Lord Radnor as the next Mayor might see councillors “stop abusing, insulting and bullying their officials, from the town clerk downwards.” But, the editor commented “Members don’t stop at abus-ingand bullying their officials; they often have a go at each other and, ‘You're a liar; you’re another’ was no uncommon outburst": from them. Past debates teemed with “bear garden” scenes and the town would wclcomo the order Lord Radnor could bring to council meetings. Once a year, wrote Felix, the 'town' or "over-grown village of Elham" did its public duty to the sick and suffering and a gathering of Friendly Societies took place in the square, headed by a brass band, and marched to church where a collection was made for Folkestone's Victoria Hospital. Every man, woman and child seemed to turn out for the event, all In their Sunday best, he wrote. And Hythe Town Band came in horse-brakes to provide music. Sadly the church service was marred by rowdy behaviour of young men. ''hobbledehoys," who attended.

 
Proud story of family in nursing for 4 generations

f QE*f THE Herald told the remarkable story JL79J>of a local family, one of whom was once Folkestone's only 'official' nurse. She was Mrs Fanny Emery, who died around 1896 aged 85. She was the grandmother of Mrs Loah Smith who. in 1951, lived In St Michael's Square, Folkestone and was herself a nurse. Mrs Smith was pictured with a framed portrait of Fanny and the Herald told how the family had a record of nursing through four generations, giving 120 years’ of service. Fanny nursed throughout a smallpox epidemic in the 1870s and was fortunate that none of her 13 children contracted the disease. For years the family kept a diary of all the births and deaths Mrs Emery attended. John Pegden, of Pegden Bros, Elham, drove a 40 year old traction engine at the head of an Acrise Young Farmers' Club procession of farm vehicles, ancient and modern in Folkestone's Floral Festival week Carnival. Proudly displayed in front was the Union Jack -because John's father Albert,: aged 81, drove a traction engine in South Africa in the Boer War, The Pegdens owned five fold ladies" as the ‘road locomotives' were called, the oldest 62 years old and still working. I hope the family retain pictures of their old ’fleet’ for future generations to see.
 
Council Stade area plans spark storm of protests

ftrt/j COUNCIL plans to demolish all of Radnor St JL7aO and East Street and replace them with new housing, because they were in an area considered a slum; were met with a storm of protests. A public meeting called on the Council to receive a delegation before going further with the scheme. The Herald published a picture of a woman wing-walker “doing her stuff" on a biplane that took part in a series of stunt flying air displays at the Valiant Sailor^ Capei, over several days during July.: Under the heading of Nonington. news from which was occasionally reported by the Herald 75 years ago, were details of another miners' strike at Snowdown Colliery over working conditions In the deep pit, involving over 300 men. The men voted to stop work not long after leaders signed a three-month agreement to resume workings and to await the signing of a national agreement. The then private colliery owners were anxious to raise more coal to meet orders. The Herald also carried reports on activities in Barham Including the passing of well known licensee William Henry Rose, 78, of the Black Robin Inn, Kingston where he had been host for 30 years, the pub having been in the family for generations. Bill Rose retired from the 1st Life Guards after 21 years' service with an exemplary record.
 
Squatters hold up owner's house renovation scheme

Q"7C THERE were red faces among staff of a local JL7 I O building firm after they left a Dover Road house unsecured. Renovation work on the property had to be postponed after a squatting Jamaican family seized their chance and moved in! They had seen Folkestone as a haven from ‘‘violence in the City of London.” But according to a Herald reporter a team of seven men soon descended on the property, ejected the squatters and their belongings and quickly boarded up all windows. The town’s newly opened information centre received nearly 4,500 inquiries in the first month. More than half were about tourism and a quarter about entertainment. Using costumes borrowed from Folkestone & Hythe Operatic and Dramatic Society, All Soul’s Church, Chertton Mothers’ Union group staged a colourful pageant portraying the history of the century-old organisation, begun by the wife of George Sumner. Rector of Old Aylesford. Did you know that Folkestone’s wartime ARP service numbered among its members the well known comedian and “Goon" Michael Bentine? The question was posed 25 years ago by Herald writer “Stroller" who told how the distinguished local resident had been turned down for service in the RAF. There was a shock for Boots, the chemists, when a Sandgate Road shop window shattered in a thunderstorm which ended a long spell of near-drought weather In the district.

If anyone should have any a better picture than any on this page, or think I should add one they have, please email me at the following address:-

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