Memories of WWII

The bombing of Compton Road

By Mrs. Joan Stewart (nee Laker)

Our house is hit
There was a hit and run bombing raid in Compton Road, which is in direct line with the viaduct over Lewes Road, at 12 noon on the 23rd May 1943. A plane dropped bombs obviously meant for the viaduct, but missed its target and so they dropped on our house, the house next door and damaged the houses either side. I was at work, so I didn't have any personal involvement with the bombing. Numbers 22 & 24 Compton Road were completely demolished.

Buried under the house
My mother and my sister, who was seven months pregnant at the time, and my mother's neighbour, luckily went into the Anderson shelter of 22 Compton Road. This was very lucky because we didn't always use it when the sirens went. But I think because it was the middle of the day they thought it might be a genuine raid. Anyway they were all buried under the house. Luckily in Caffyns Garage in Dyke Road there was a group of soldiers training to be mechanics and they were immediately sent round to help get people out.

'Mind the baby!'
They got my mother and our neighbour out, but had a bit of a problem with my sister because she kept saying 'mind the baby' and they were looking for a baby. Of course when they reached her they realized what she meant. The poor lady in number 24 was killed. They were all taken to Brighton General Hospital where coincidentally, my father was Head of the Grounds. He could actually stand at work and look across and see the houses in Compton Road and Inwood Crescent, and he felt that he could see a gap where his house had been. He was told his family had been brought in and was very relieved to find out that my sister and mother had survived. My sister had her son Malcolm two months later and had no complications at all; he now lives in Australia.

Sad news
I was working at the Brighton G.P.O. Telegraphs in Ship Street and there was a phone call for me from a man. Now this was strictly not allowed, as there were quite a few problems with many ladies working there the men all being called up, and there were too many personal calls. Our supervisor, Miss McIntosh, who I should imagine has died by now, told the caller that he would not be able to speak to me, as personal calls were not allowed. He told her he was a doctor at the Brighton General Hospital and he wanted to tell me some sad personal news. I was naturally very sad at the news but my colleagues were quite thrilled to think that Miss McIntosh had been put in her place!

Where to go?
The family was left with the clothes they stood up in because everything was buried under the rubble. It was such a mess; everything was torn and smashed, so we couldn't save anything because it was too damaged. The only thing was my mother swore that a lady, who shall remain nameless, did appear in one of my mother's dresses. That night my father, myself and our lodger, Norah Wells were catered for at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Dyke Road. My father went to stay at my sister's flat in Dyke Road after the first night, as he was very upset but we stayed in the church hall until the family rented a flat in Dyke Road. My mother never really recovered from the shock and she suffered from nerves and angina afterwards and would never let my father buy another house.

Rebuilding
Our house was eventually rebuilt but number 24 and 26 were left as wasteland for several years and then a small block of flats was built on the land. My father always complained that the house wasn't of the same quality when it had been rebuilt, as there was a terrible problem with damp that hadn't existed before. My parents didn't ever live there again but my sister and her husband took over the family house and had another son some time later. I went to Canada with my husband at the end of the war and didn't return until some years later.

Edited by Jennifer DruryUsed with kind permission of Jacqueline Pollard: Brighton Books
Added to the site on 12-09-05 
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page

Hello from Canada. I lived on Compton Road and was walking home from StanfordRoadSchool when the bombs fell. My brother Euan Bowyer delivered bread for Perry's and he was due to be at approx. 22/24 at the time the bombs fell but he had stayed home from school and had completed his round earlier. It was lucky for our family but not for our neighbours or those Canadian soldiers.

By Diana Anstead (nee bowyer) (04/04/2008)

I well remember the bombing of Compton Road. I had collected a basket of bread and was about to turn the corner into Compton Road when the far end disappeared in a cloud of dust. I returned to Perry's the Bakers with the bread and then went around Inwood Crescent to the rear area of 22-24. I remember asking if Mrs Lloyd who lived there was alright and told somebody that she would probably be in the middle room where the shelter was. I think that she was eventually found there. Five minutes earlier and I would have been with her. I do remember the Laker family also. We lived at 125.

By Euan Bowyer (07/05/2008)

I lived at No.33 which was opposite the house which was bombed. Apart from Mrs Lloyd who died in there, were some Canadian soldiers who were billeted there. Our front door was blown off its hinges and landed at the top of our stairs. At the time I was at school, which was next to the railway viaduct which partlly collapsed when another bomb fell from the same bomber.

By GWEN WALKER(nee smith) (27/12/2008)

My mum Evelyn Long lived in Compton Road when it was bombed. She was at Stanford Road School when news reached the school that two houses at the end of Compton Road had been destroyed. She was allowed home as she lived near the end of the road. She ran all the way home to find that it was the opposite end to which she lived. Mum went on to teach for many years at Whitehawk Primary School (Mrs Hubbard). She is now still alive and well and living in Woodingdean.

By Paul Hubbard (09/05/2010)

I lived in Compton Road from 1961-1983 at no 74. When we were kids we used to play on this bomb site until the flats were built in about 1970-71. Coincidentally I was an apprentice at Perry's and worked there from 1972 -80. I have tried for years to find information on this raid, thank you for this site.

By Alan Andrews (03/12/2011)

Are we talking about Campbell Road here, or Compton Road? There was a bomb dropped at then end of Campbell Road at the junction with Argyle Road, that damaged the viaduct that goes over London Road (behind the Tech College)

By Paul Britton (11/07/2012)

We lived at No 32 Compton Rd, which was two doors from where the bomb dropped on 23 May 1943, and we were at home at the time. The bomb destroyed 5 houses 22-28 which were in the middle of Compton Road, not the end. We had Canadian soldiers billeted with us. They were doing MT course at Caffyns Garage. I was eight years old at the time.

By Ted Bates (28/10/2012)

I live at No. 83 Compton Road and am so interested in the history of the street. It's a lovely place to live and if anyone has any old photographs of the road or the houses from any time, I would be grateful to see them.

By Victoria Parry (22/04/2013)

The initial piece heading this section mentions Lewes Rd viaduct but surely for an attack on Compton Rd that should be Preston Rd viaduct. My mum and brother were in the back garden in Dyke Rd Drive when a German plane flew in below the radar and a bomb hit the viaduct and the rail yards above DRD. My mum could not get to the shelter so threw my brother under the dining room table, both were safe but our roof was blown off and they were re-housed in Springfield Rd while repairs took place.

By Geoffrey Mead (22/04/2013)

We have some old family pics taken at the beginning of the 1900's of old Compton Street.

Editor's note: If you can scan the photographs and send them to me Theresa - we could maybe publish them on the site. Contact me at: jennifer@mybrightonandhove.org.uk

By Theresa Clews (10/03/2014)

Hi, can someone please help? I'm trying to find out more about my family. My mum passed away last year, so I can't ask her but my great great Nan, Mrs Mary Annie Lloyd (formerly Kelly) was killed there. It would be a weird coincidence if it's not her. Can someone please email me about any information you know? I do know 'some' but she was born in Ireland, so it's been hard to find much out. Thank you hannahmccabe16@outlook.com

By Hannah Lloyd McCabe (30/11/2016)

Hannah, the Mary Ann Lloyd that was killed at 24 Compton Street during the bombing raid of 25th May 1943 was married to a railway worker, Albert J Lloyd. She was born on 25th December 1888 and died as a result of a bomb destroying four houses in Compton Street, being one of the last bodies to be dug out of the debris later that day. Regards.

By Andy Grant (01/12/2016)

Andy, it was 23rd May 1943 not 25th. Coincidently, there is a plaque on Hasting seafront by Debenhams referring to a raid there on the very same day. Ted Bates 32 Compton Road 1935 - 1961

By Ted Bates (03/03/2017)

I lived at 32 Compton Road for 10 years 1987 to 1997. So interesting to read this.

 

By Simon Harvey (29/06/2017)

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