ENEMY CRASH AT CLACTON
TWO DEAD AND 156 INJURED
HAVOC OF HEINKEL MINE-LAYER
CLACTON, MAY 1
A man and his wife and four member of the crew of a Heinkel bomber were killed when the machine, seriously damaged by gunfire and in flames, crashed at Clacton-on-Sea late last night. Tonight it was announced that the number of persons injured was 156, of whom 34 are serious cases.
Some of those now lying in hospital have lost their homes. At least 50 houses are so badly damaged that they will have to be demolished, and were, indeed, being pulled down this afternoon. In many more over a wide area all the windows were broken, doors were blown out and ceilings fell, and some windows two miles from the scene of the crash were broken.
For several hours to-day an area of a square mile was evacuated and roped off.
There are two aspects of this disaster which give comfort. First it was the accurate fire of our gunners which brought to grief this carrier of “murder” mines, for the Heinkel was a layer of the mines which wreck and destroy ships without warning. The second consolation is that the local A.R.P. services were found ready and competent for the work so suddenly thrown upon them. The explosion was caused by mines which the bomber was carrying.
It was half an hour before midnight when people became aware of the crippled bomber flying low, its engines misfiring. Some say that it dropped Verey lights as if looking for a landing place. Mrs. E.F. Thomas, of Victoria Road, said:-
“The bomber flashed past flaming, narrowly missing our house. It hit a chimney-stack three doors away, and one wing dropped into the garden there. It then hit a tree and a corner of the house across the road, sped along the road, and then crashed into two houses, which were demolished. By now I was out in the road. Suddenly there was a terrific explosion. A man shouted, ‘Stay where you are,’ and I realized I was lying on the roadway and must have been knocked down by the force of the explosion.”
BURIED UNDER DEBRIS
The husband and wife who were killed, Mr. and Mrs. W. Gill, lived in one of the houses which were demolished. Apparently Mr. Gill ran into his garden and was killed instantly. His body, buried beneath debris, was found at noon. Mrs. Gill was buried beneath the ruins of her home and was found at 6 o’clock this morning. With them lived their son, who is in hospital seriously injured. All that remained of their house was a mound of bricks.
Twenty yards from their house was a concrete covered air-raid shelter where, if warned of the coming disaster, they would have been safe. In the house next door, which also was demolished, were a maid and three children whose mother is in Scotland. Two of the children are in hospital, one with an injured back and the other with a broken arm. For some time the maid was unaccounted for and is now stated to be in hospital seriously injured.
The soot where the bomber fell was the centre of a desolate scene - demolished houses, scores more with every window shattered, doors blown out and roofs caving in, the charred remains of the big bomber, here and there pieces of clothing lodged in the branches of trees; and scattered about dolls, handbags, tooth-brushes, and a hundred and one of the things common to every home.
The falling bomber narrowly missed St. Michael’s Orthopaedic Hospital and a nursing home in which there are 14 patients. Many people were injured by broken glass, and others because, before the explosion, they had rushed out of their homes to see the burning aeroplane. As soon as possible soldiers, wardens, and police threw a cordon round the area and kept people back. For some hours there were distressing scenes as A.R.P. workers sought amid the debris and in damaged houses for the injured whose cries they could hear.
The work of rescue went on all night, and at the start the scene was lighted by the burning aeroplane, which blazed fiercely. People who have lost their homes are staying for the present with friends.
It is stated that no air-raid warning was sounded.
BACK OF HOUSE GONE
Our Clacton Correspondent, in describing the disaster (which was reported in the later editions of The Times yesterday), states:-
I, in common with other people, heard an aeroplane overhead and soon afterwards saw a reflection of whhat had happened, but had only got to my front gate when the explosion occurred. I rushed back to find that the back of my house had been blown out.
A.R.P. WITHOUT A HITCH
The Ministry of Home Security last night issued the following statement:-
Reports from Clacton show that the police and fire brigade were on the spot at once. The first first-aid party arrived within five minutes, and the first rescue party within 10 minutes. The A.R.P. services are organized in first- and second -line parties. The first-line parties are those actually standing by: the second-line parties, consisting of volunteers on call, are collected by telephone and special messenger. The system worked without a hitch, and further rescue parties and parties of stretcher bearers were dispatched within 10 to 20 minutes. The first-aid parties were quickly supplemented by mobile first-aid units, consisting of doctors and nurses, who, with full surgical equipment, are carried in specially fitted lorries.
victoria road, clacton - Google Maps
CWGC :: Casualty Details
CWGC :: Casualty Details
Edited by dbf, 29 April 2011 - 10:55 PM.