Wartime Memories

The night Hitler missed the Royal Pavilion

By Ken Chambers

 
Photo:Monochrome photograph showing an aerial view of Brighton from above the English Channel, 1940. Features numerical key in German.

Monochrome photograph showing an aerial view of Brighton from above the English Channel, 1940. Features numerical key in German.

Royal Pavilion and Museums: Brighton and Hove

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Having a milk-shake in Duke Street

I was in the town the night the bombs nearly hit the Royal Pavilion. With three friends who were my cousin Cyril, Roland Joanes (Jonah) and Basil Wooldridge, I was in Duke Street enjoying a milk-shake in Norman's Milk Bar, when this stick of bombs shook the area on Friday evening, 29th November 1940. It was a very dark night, a new moon, and I reckon the time would have been about 9.30pm. The noise and vibration made us drink up and go outside to investigate. Whilst walking down the street we came across a fizzing incendiary device which we covered with sandbags. Where this came from I have no idea as it was some distance from the bombs.

Rubble strewn roads

We made our way to North Street, via Ship Street, and soon found ourselves walking on broken glass; then picked our way through the rubble-strewn road near to the junction with East Street and the damaged corner of Hannington’s store. There were already a number of ARP workers milling around as we crossed East Street to Castle Square. It was here we passed number six which was the premises of Lindsey’s, the truss makers, and saw a leg dangling out of the broken window. This momentarily gave us a shock until we found out it was part of their display.

The first Brighton bombs

My diary confirms the first bombs fell in Brighton on Monday 15th July 1940. I was on duty with the Home Guard the previous evening and retired late but was up again at 6.15am. I wrote "Air raid with no warning. Whistling bombs dropped at Bennett Road, Princes Terrace and Whitehawk Road”. These incidents are recorded in my book Brighton Diaries’.

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