OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

©  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: October 01, 2019
Webpage updated: October 03, 2019

        

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SECOND WORLD WAR DIARY

In just seven nights of just one year the centres of Plymouth, Devonport and East Stonehouse were laid to ruin.  The devastating Luftwaffe air raids of the nights of March 20th and 21st and April 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 28th and 29th have become termed the Plymouth Blitz.

This is as complete a diary of the events of the Second World War as it has been possible to compile from the various sources now available.  The principle record of the terrible events of those seven years is Mr H P Twyford's "It Came to Our Door", published immediately after the hostilities had ended.  Also used has been the more recently published (1991) "Blitz: An Account of Hitler's Aerial War Over Plymouth in March 1941, and the Events that Followed" by Mr Gerald Wasley.

Among the other sources used have been Doidge's Year Books for the War years and the pages of "The Western Morning News", "The Western Evening Herald" and "The Western Independent".

Errors and Omissions Excepted.

 
Monday April 3rd 1939  

On Monday April 3rd 1939 thirteen of the Great Western Railway Company's trucks arrived at the Sutton Harbour Goods Station, in Sutton Road.  They were loaded with nine tons of steel air-raid shelters.  A team of around twelve men started to load them on to GWRC road vehicles.  The following morning the first one was delivered to a house in Mainstone Avenue, not far from the depot.  It took six men to carry the parts for each one and they marched through the houses and deposited them against the walls of the back gardens.

The parts were:

A - six curved lengths of 7 feet 8 inches;
B - one straight length of 7 feet;
C - one straight length of 1 feet 3 inches
D - one straight length of 3 feet 3 inches;
E - two straight lengths of 6 feet;
F - two straight lengths of 3 feet;
Two "channels";
Two T-shaped pieces;
Two "angles";
and one bag of nuts and bolts.

Each household had to construct its own shelter.  Although all the shelters were being delivered to Sutton Harbour, many of the deliveries were expected to be made from Keyham, presumably from the goods yard at Keyham Station.

   
Thursday April 27th 1939  
Conscription was introduced by the Military Training Act which Parliament passed on Thursday April 27th 1939.  Men of 20 and 21 years of age were required to undertake six months of military training.
   
May 1939  
Air Raid Precautions had already been set up by May 1939.  Plympton become the headquarters of Devon County's 'H' Division, with Police Superintendent S F Smith in charge as Divisional Commandant.  The Special Constabulary was under Mr S J Lawry; the assistant divisional commandant was Mr C H Crews; the area organiser was Major A G White; and the chief warden was Mr E Birch.
   
Friday August 25th 1939  
Great Britain signed a treaty of mutual assistance with Poland on Friday August 25th 1939.
   
Friday September 1st 1939  

German troops invaded Poland on Friday September 1st 1939 and it became clear that Britain was about to go to war.  The evacuation of schoolchildren out of London began on September 1st 1939.

   
Mr William Cornish, the Head Master of the Johnston Terrace School at Keyham, recorded in the school's log book (held at the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, accession number 2323/2) that at five past four on the afternoon of Friday September 1st 1939 he received notice that owing to hostilities between Germany and Poland, all schools will be closed until further notice.  They reopened about three weeks later.
   
Saturday September 2nd 1939  
The first train loaded with evacuees passed through North Road Plymouth Station on Saturday September 2nd 1939, heading for Saint Austell.
   
Sunday September 3rd 1939  

Great Britain and France jointly declared war on Germany on Sunday September 3rd 1939.

One of the immediate effects of the declaration was the suspension of pleasure boat trips on the River Tamar.  The other was the closure of schools in Plymouth and throughout Cornwall so that officials could deal with allocating places to children being evacuated from London.  Plymouth was seen as a safe place to send children at that time.

A second train load arrived at North Road Plymouth Station by Great Western Railway on the afternoon of September 3rd.  Amongst the children were 241 girls from a high school; 270 boys from a grammar school; plus 238 girls and 60 boys from Roman Catholic schools.  They were greeted at the Station by men and nurses from the Saint John Ambulance Brigade, under Mr H Miller, the Commissioner, and Mrs H Hastings, the Lady Corps Superintendent, policemen, railway employees and ordinary passengers, all of whom ran errands for the children purchasing chocolate, sweets and ice creams to help them on their way to the Camborne and Redruth area of Cornwall.  It was reported that many of the adults declined to take the money off the children.

In addition to the school children were about 200 mothers and other children, the youngest of whom was Master Joseph Dickson, aged just three weeks.  The Great Western Railway Company provided a coach to act as a sick bay in case any of the young travellers were feeling the strain of travelling but it was not required.

Plymouth City Council advertised for contractors to erect 50 brick or concrete Air Raid Wardens' Posts while White's Naval Surplus Stores in Ebrington Street advertised 1,200 Government Surplus curtains, ready to hang, from 6d to 10d each; black lined fancy linen, from 1s 6d to 3s 6d each; and metal boxes suitable for storing food or the deeds to your house, for one to two shillings a time.  The Millbay Laundry, Cleaning and Dyeing Company Limited were advertising black-out curtains and Coster's had a plentiful supply of boys' suits (short trousers, of course) for 8s 11d, with cheaper quality ones available for as little as 6s 11d.  Co-operative Red Label tea was 2s 8d per pound and steaks, chops, fish and grills 'of all descriptions' could be had in the Grill Room of the Royal Hotel.

   
Friday September 29th 1939  
Friday September 29th 1939 was National Registration Day.
   
Thursday November 9th 1939  
Viscount Astor was elected Lord Mayor of Plymouth on Thursday November 9th 1939.
   
Wednesday December 13th 1939  
On Wednesday December 13th 1939, during the so-called "Battle of the River Plate", the British cruiser HMS "Exeter" was damaged.   The German pocket battleship "The Admiral Graf Spee" was scuttled on December 17th.
   
Monday December 18th 1939  
His Majesty the King visited the Plymouth Command of the Royal Navy on Monday December 18th 1939, on the day that the first contingent of Canadian soldiers arrived in England.
   
Tuesday December 26th 1939  
On Boxing Day, Tuesday December 26th 1939, the first squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force arrived in England.
   
Monday January 8th 1940  

The rationing of butter, ham, bacon and sugar started on Monday January 8th 1940, when ration books were also introduced  There was points rationing for tinned goods, dried fruit, cereals, syrup, treacle and biscuits.  At first each person was allowed 16 points per month to spend on whatever was available at the time.  This was later raised to 20 points per month.  Each person had to be registered with a specific local shop and could only use their points in that shop.  Milk, eggs, and their "dried" versions, as well as oranges, were strictly controlled to ensure that expectant mothers, babies and the elderly had sufficient supplies.  Fish and potatoes were never rationed although from time to time they became in very short supply.

Amounts changed over time but a typical weekly ration was:-

  • butter 2 ounces
  • margarine 4 ounces
  • milk 3 pints (sometimes it was only 2 pints)
  • cheese 2 ounces
  • 1 fresh egg
  • one packet of dried eggs every four weeks
  • bacon or ham 4 ounces
  • 1s 6d worth of other meat
  • tea 2 ounces
  • sugar 8 ounces
  • one pound of jam every two months
  • and 12 ounces of sweets every four weeks

It was reported in "The Daily Mail" newspaper that 'The King, Queen, the Princesses and other members of the Royal family will eat only the normal ration of butter, bacon and sugar from today (first day of rationing).  They have been issued with "commercial travellers' cards" - given to all people who have to move about the country.  The King insisted that this method be adopted and no special arrangements should be made.  The Queen has drawn up special menus, dropping two courses from both luncheon and dinner'.

   
Wednesday January 31st 1940  
HMS "Ajax" arrived in the Royal Dockyard on Wednesday January 31st 1940 after its action in the "Battle of the River Plate".
   
Thursday February 15th 1940  
HMS "Exeter" arrived at the Royal Dockyard on Thursday February 15th 1940.
   
Friday February 16th 1940  
On Friday February 16th 1940 the officers and men from HMS "Ajax" and HMS "Exeter" were given a civic reception in the Guildhall.
   
Monday March 11th 1940  
Monday March 11th 1940 saw the beginning of meat rationing.
   
Sunday March 17th 1940  
Plymouth's cinemas were permitted to open on a Sunday for the first time on Sunday on March 17th 1940.
   
Friday May 10th 1940  
On Friday May 10th Mr Neville Chamberlain resigned and was replaced as Prime Minister by Mr Winston Churchill.  A National Government was formed.
   
Tuesday May 14th 1940  
The formation of the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) was announced by Mr Anthony Eden on Tuesday May 14th 1940.
   
Monday May 27th 1940  
335,490 British, French and Belgian troops were evacuated from Dunkirk between Monday May 27th and Tuesday June 4th 1940.
   
Sunday June 2nd 1940  
On Sunday June 2nd 1940 600 French and other troops arrived at Turnchapel Station after evacuation from Dunkirk.
   
Tuesday June 18th 1940  
At 5.30pm on Tuesday June 18th 1940 the ex--Great Western Railway Company's Channel Islands ferry, the "St Helier", under Captain R R Pitman, anchored in Plymouth Sound, having diverted while on passage from Southampton to La Pallice on the French coast.  She sailed again at 10.35pm to resume her mission but the Captain was amazed to pass French ships of all types making a mad dash for the English ports.  The situation on land was rapidly getting worse and it was not long before the "St Helier" was attacked by two enemy planes.  The crew replied with heavy fire from the ship's guns and scored hits on both planes, causing the bomb intended for the ship to fall short.  Realising that any attempt to embark troops was likely to end in disaster, the ship was ordered to sea, where she ran the gauntlet of an enemy submarine and a severe electrical storm that rendered the compass and degaussing cable useless.  The "St Helier" finally arrived back in the relative safety of Plymouth sound at 5.35pm on Friday June 21st.
   
Sunday June 30th 1940  
Plymouth's first air raid alert took place at 12.45am on Sunday June 30th 1940 and lasted one hour.
   
Thursday July 4th 1940  
On Thursday July 4th 1940 the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons that the Government had seized French warships to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.
   
Saturday July 6th 1940  

The first bombs to be dropped on Plymouth fell just before midday on Saturday July 6th 1940.  The three bombs hit a block of eight houses on the Corporation housing estate at Swilly Road, numbers 132 to 146.   Three houses were demolished, two were wrecked beyond repair, and three others were damaged.  Other properties nearby were damaged by the blast.

Mrs Blanch Margaret Ellnor, aged 33, of 140 Swilly Road, the wife of Mr F A Ellnor, became Plymouth's first air-raid victim, closely followed by Mr Harry Clarke Swinburne, aged 58, of 142 Swilly Road and thirteen-year-old Joseph Harold Nicolas, aged 13, of 138 Swilly Road, the son of CPO F Nicholas RN.   Joseph died on July 8th at the City Hospital, Greenbank.  Six other people were injured.  Apparently the raider, a Dornier, or "Black Pencil" as they were nicknamed, was challenged by gunfire from the anti-aircraft positions but got away without being hit.

Two Police officers who were in the police box at the junction of Beacon Park Road and Wolseley Road attended the incident.  They were Police Sergeant Stephen Mansfield and Police Constable Reginald Hawkins.  A 13-year-old lad by the name of Jimmy Silcock, who lived at number 136 Swilly Road, later recalled that the rear of his family's home caved in as a result of the blast and his mother, who had remained in the house, got covered in debris and had to be dug out.

   
Sunday July 7th 1940  

The following day, Sunday July 7th 1940, there was another attack from a bomber that flew low over the City from the direction of Laira.   The time was about 5.30pm.  It was so low, apparently, that a man on duty at the gasworks at Coxside opened fire on it with a shot-gun.  The bombs missed their supposed target, the gasworks, and landed on houses at the junction of South Milton Street and Home Sweet Home Terrace.  The local post office was destroyed.

Five people were killed in this raid: Mark and Mrs Ellen Keefe, aged 65 and 60 respectively, and Carroll Voysey, aged 55, all of 87 Cattedown Road; Samuel Hollinsworth Peek Tremain, aged 49, of 17 South Milton Street; and Police Constable Alfred Edwin Crosby, aged 48, husband of Mildred Crosby of 16 Lynwood Avenue, Marsh Mills, Plympton, and son of Hannah Crosby of 11 First Avenue, Bexleyheath in Kent.  He and an unnamed soldier were on duty in South Milton Street.  Four others were injured, including Mr Frank Reginald Jago, aged 68, of 39 Cattedown Road, who died in the City Hospital, Greenbank, on July 16th.

   
Monday July 8th 1940  
It was announced on Monday July 8th 1940 that tea was to be rationed to 2 ounces per head per week.
   
Also on July 8th, Devonport received an early morning raid when four bombs were dropped in the vicinity of Morice Square and Marlborough Street, killing Mr Sidney Walter Coombe Slee, aged 54, the butcher, whose shop in Marlborough Street received a direct hit.  His wife, Mary Truscott Slee, survived.   One of the bombs crashed right through the Royal Sailors' Club in Morice Square, exploding in the kitchen and wrecking the dining room above it, which had only a short time before been crowded with sailors having their breakfasts.  Three people were seriously injured in the raid, including a woman who was dug out of the debris of her house.
   
Wednesday July10th 1940  
On Wednesday July 10th 1940 the German Luftwaffe began the Battle of Britain in the skies over the South East of England.
   
Tuesday July 23rd 1940  
Mr Eden, the Minister of War, announced on Tuesday July 23rd 1940 that the Local Defence Volunteers were now to be known as the Home Guard.
   
Thursday July 25th 1940  
On Thursday July 25th 1940 the Duke of Kent made the first of many visits to Plymouth during the War.
   
Thursday August 1st 1940 and Tuesday August 13th 1940  

247 Squadron, Royal Air Force, was reformed from the Sturmburgh Fighter Flight, based on the Shetland Isles, at RAF Roborough on Thursday August 1st 1940.  It flew Gloster Gladiators and the first arrived at Roborough on Tuesday August 13th 1940.
Confirmed by the late Mr David Penberthy from research done at The National Archives in 2010.

   
Friday August 16th 1940  
London had its first air raid on Friday August 16th 1940.
   
Friday August 16th 1940  
Three naval ratings, the victims of an unidentified air-raid in the South West, were buried on Friday August 16th 1940.  They were Mr William Harding, aged 39 years; Mr Allan brooks, 22; and Mr Rufus Barnes, also 22.
   
Friday August 16th 1940  
'Plymouth Hits Back' was the slogan of the Plymouth Spitfire Fund in its attempt to raise £5,000 towards an aircraft for the war effort.  As at August 16th 1940 £150 had been donated.  Although the fund was divided into units of £1, these could be made up of smaller amounts from those who could not afford to give that sum of money.  The treasurer of the fund was Mr H L Jeffery.  
   
Saturday August 17th 1940  
It was business as usual for the motor coach tour companies.  On Saturday August 17th 1940 Plymothians could sample the delights of an all-day visit to Fowey, Polperro and Looe with Embankment Motors for 8s 6d; or Widecombe, Haytor and Torquay with the Co-operative Travel Service for the same price; or an afternoon mystery drive for three shillings from Western National Coach Tours.  Embankment Motors also operated a rather unusual tour, to Cheesering, on Bodmin Moor, departing from Princess Square at 2.30pm, price 6s 6d.
   
Sunday August 18th 1940  
As from Sunday August 18th 1940 the visiting hours at Plymouth's City Hospital (otherwise known as Freedom Fields Hospital) were: to wards 1 to 8 inclusive, Tuesdays only, between 5.30 and 6.30pm; to ward 14 and the maternity and children's wards, Sundays only, between 2.30 and 3.30pm; to wards 15 and 16, Fridays only, between 5.30 and 6.30pm.  Only one visitor was allowed per patient in the Hospital at any one time.
   
Friday August 23rd 1940  
The first all-night bombing raid on London took place on Friday August 23rd.   This was the start of The Blitz, although Plymouth's own Blitz did not start until March 1941.
   
Tuesday August 27th 1940  

There was a bad air-raid on Tuesday August 27th 1940 which killed the following inmates and staff of Ford House in Wolseley Road:

Beatrice Allen, aged 62;
Mary Bendle, aged 66;
Ivy Alexandra Bennett, aged 38, daughter of Mr J A Bennett;
Frances Mildred Annie Coombe, aged 58, daughter of the late William and Frances Coombe;
Mary Ellen Dawe, aged 36, of 5 Woolster Street, Plymouth, daughter of the late William and Alice Daw;
Lily Edgcumbe, aged 55;
Mary Ann Pring Griffin, aged 64;
Annie Louisa Harris, aged 59;
Jessie Elizabeth Hill, aged 57;
Elsie Elizabeth Ley, aged 39, daughter of Henry and Bertha Ley of 132 King Street;
Winifred Irene Roberts, aged 40; and
Clara Rosina Skinner, aged 44.

   
Tuesday August 27th 1940  
The Great Western Railway Company's tender, the "Sir John Hawkins", was damaged in that raid after she had been repaired she was taken over by the Admiralty and given a Naval crew.
   
Saturday September 21st 1940  
On Saturday September 21st 1940 the Great Western Railway Company suspended running the overnight Travelling Post Office train to Plymouth and Penzance and also the Plymouth to Bristol TPO.
   
Sunday September 15th 1940  
Lieutenant R Davies of Plymouth led the squad which removed a time bomb that threatened Saint Paul's Cathedral in London on Sunday September 15th 1940.
   
Tuesday September 24th 1940  
On Tuesday September 24th 1940 His Majesty the King created the George Cross for civilian bravery.
   
Monday September 30th 1940  
The first of a fleet of over-age American destroyers arrived in England on Monday September 30th 1940.
   
Saturday October 5th 1940  
Air raid shelters were erected at Hooe on Saturday October 5th 1940.
   
Friday October 11th 1940  
A second contingent of American destroyers arrived at Plymouth on Friday October 11th 1940.
   
Monday October 21st 1940  
On Monday October 21st 1940 Purchase Tax came into operation.
   
Thursday october 24th 1940  
The extension of British Summer Time to throughout the winter was announced by the Home Secretary, Mr W S Morrison, on Thursday October 24th 1940.
   
Saturday November 16th 1940  
A special football match between the Royal Navy and the Army took place at Home Park on Saturday November 16th 1940 in aid of the Earl Haig Poppy Fund.  Over 6,000 spectators paid £157 16s at the gate and over 2,000 additional were sold.  The kick-off was performed by Mrs Davies, the wife of Captain R Davies, the hero of Saint Paul's Cathedral.
   
Wednesday November 27th 1940  

One of the most serious incidents in the War occurred during the night of Wednesday November 27th 1940.  At about 7.30pm an enemy aircraft dropped four flares over the Turnchapel/Mount Batten district.  Almost immediately one of the hangars at RAF Mount Batten was set alight by a high explosive bomb.   A Sunderland Flying Boat caught fire and was burned out, and ten people were killed at Oreston alone, where four houses were demolished.  Within a short while another bomber, while aiming for the Air Station, managed to get a direct hit on one of the oil tanks in the nearby Admiralty Oil Fuel Depot, which was adjacent to Turnchapel Railway Station.

However, the fire spread from one tank to another until the flames so illuminated the night sky that people on the Barbican and Hoe could easily read their watches and newspapers.  The blaze around the tanks continued the next day, when two Auxiliary Fire Service personnel lost their lives (Mr Thomas J Callicot, aged 30, and Mr Robert W Widger, aged 33, both of Plymouth) and four others were injured.  The fire spread from tank to tank but there was only one explosion, which showered blazing oil on the railway station setting alight to the buildings and also set light to Hooe Lake.  The people of Plymouth lived in fear of further attacks as Plymouth was now such a brightly lit target.  The people of Turnchapel were all evacuated to Plympton.  The fires lasted for four nights and everyone was greatly relieved when they were finally put out on Sunday December 1st.

   
Sunday December 8th 1940  
On Sunday December 8th 1940 gangs of men were to be seen relaying railway track and repairing the station and bridge at Turnchapel.   Trains started to run again on December 16th 1940.
   
Sunday December 15th 1940  
During an air raid on Sunday December 15th 1940 the Great Western Railway Company's tender "Sir Walter Raleigh", was damaged and eight members of the crew were injured.
   
Monday December 23rd 1940  
Plymouth Corporation Transport Department converted two of its single-deck buses into mobile canteens for use in air-raid emergencies.  They were inspected in Guildhall Square by the members of the Emergency Committee on Monday December 23rd 1940.  Running water was obtained from a tank on the roof and there were a gas cooker to provide hot meals and three large gas-heated urns which could be used to hold soup or tea.  It was fully equipped with plates, cups and stainless steel cutlery.  Upwards of 1220 cups of hot drinks could be served at a time.  The two ladies representing the Women's Voluntary Service, Lady Hollely and Mrs Wordley, 'were loud in their praise of the very practical organization of the canteen'.
   
December 1940  
At the end of December 1940 Mrs Gwen Howarth, of 16 Leigham Terrace, Plymouth, won the "Venus" Competition at the New Palace Theatre.
   
1940  
At some pint during 1940 the City Council began collecting kitchen waste for processing into pig food, as part of the war effort.  Communal collection bins were placed in the streets.  The scheme continued until October 1959.
   
Monday January 6th 1941  
Meat rationing was reduced from 1s 10d to 1s 6d on Monday January 6th 1941.
   
January 1941  
In January 1941 Plymouth City Council was renting the Tothill Recreation Ground out to the Ministry of Mines for use as a coal dump.   The rent was £150 per annum, which the Council refused to lower.
   
Friday January 10th 1941  
The 247th alert occurred on Friday January 10th 1941.  Although the press reported that two people were killed in Portland Place, Devonport, only one, 17-years-old Mr George Cyril Finch, the son of Mr Sydney C and Mrs Winifred E Finch, of 9d Cannon Street, Devonport, is listed in the civilian casualty list.   He was injured during the raid and died later the same day at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Plymouth.
   
Saturday January 11th 1941  
An unexploded bomb was removed on Saturday January 11th from Wolsdon Street.
   
Sunday January 12th 1941  
Three women were the only casualties in a raid on Sunday January 12th 1941.  They were Mrs Mary Anne Hooper, aged 71, and Ms Margery Hurst, aged 29, both of 6 Verna Road, Saint Budeaux; and their next door neighbour, Mrs Ellen Jane Pomery, aged 59, the wife of Mr John Pomery.
   
Monday January 13th/Tuesday January 14th 1941  

During the night of Monday January 13th/Tuesday January 14th 1941 there was an air raid on Plymouth, described by Mr Twyford as a "nightmare".  It was the City's 256th alert.  The raid lasted for three hours from 6.30pm and killed 24 people, seriously injured 55 and slightly injured 62.  Most of these came from an air raid shelter in Madeira Road, opposite Phoenix Wharf, which received a direct hit.  Four members of the Edgerton family died: Mrs Sarah Agnes Edgerton, aged 40, the wife of Mr Albert Edward Edgerton of the Royal Citadel; their two daughters, Miss Ida Edgerton, aged 19, and Miss Grace Edgerton, aged 14; and their 9-years-old son, William Edgerton.

At 11pm, while the raid was at its height, the decision was taken to abandon trying to print the following morning's "The Western Morning News" at Frankfort Street and transfer the type to the "Express and Echo" building in Exeter.  The type that had already been set and the remaining "copy" was loaded into a fleet of cars and rushed up the main road to Exeter, where production resumed shortly after Midnight.

It was in this raid that the first of Plymouth's places of worship was seriously damaged, an honour befalling Sherwell Congregational Chapel in Tavistock Road, Plymouth.  The gas works at Coxside was badly damaged and the Corporation's electricity works at Prince Rock put out of use.  Electricity supply was restored during the afternoon of the 14th, thanks to the national grid, but the Plymouth end of the City remained without gas for some three weeks (SEE January 27th 1941).  The railway lines at Friary, Devonport and Turnchapel were damaged.

Two members of the Auxiliary Fire Service won George Medals during this raid.  An unspecified oil tank caught fire and 29-years-old Patrol Officer George Henry Wright, of 71 Neath Road, Lipson, and Leading Fireman Cyril George Lidstone, aged 28, of 54 Durham Avenue, Lipson, were detailed by Divisional Officer R M Easton to deal with it.  If it had exploded it would have burned for days and provided a target for the German raiders.  The roof of the tank was quite low in the frame that surrounded it and the fire was in the sealing ring between the roof and the tank itself.  Ro get at it, the two men had to haul their apparatus up the external stairway and then clamber down 32 feet to the top of the tank.  Patrol Officer Wright went down first but the water supply failed and he had to climb back out again because of the heat.  All this time there was a risk of the tank exploding.  Once a water supply had been restored, he once again climbed down and started to play foam on the fire.  Leading Fireman Lidstone then followed to assist him.  High explosive bombs were falling all falling all around them as the air raid was at its height.  The two men were ringed by a wall of fire from the the seal but they did eventually manage to extinguish it.  Half-blinded, they then were able to clamber out again, a very serious disaster having been averted.  As Mr Wright put it afterwards: 'I simply took the job in my stride.'  In April 1941 Patrol Officer George Henry Wright, who had been a house decorator before the War, and Leading Fireman Cyril George Lidstone, a plasterer by trade, were awarded the George Medal for gallantry.

In the same raid the City Hospital at Freedom Fields was damaged, killing one young patient, 9-years-old Miss Lilian Rose Stephens, the daughter of Mr Alfred and Mrs Priscilla Frances Stephens of 88 Warleigh Avenue, Keyham Barton.  Two of the wards at Greenbank Hospital were also damaged, injuring two nurses.  Island House on the Barbican was also damaged.  Cinema performances were suspended.

Amongst those killed during the raid on the night of Monday January 13th 1941 was Mrs Joan Dorothy Bickford (nee Le Masuriere), aged 18, who had only three weeks before married Mr Leslie G Bickford.  She was a member of Miss Geraldine Lamb's ENSA concert party and the daughter of Mr E P and Mrs K S Le Masuriere of 7 Kensington Gardens, Mutley, Plymouth.  She was buried at Efford Cemetery on Saturday January 18th 1941.

   
Two days later the Lord Mayor (Lord Astor) gave a statement of the statistics relating to this raid.  106 high explosive bombs had been poured on the City, three of which were delayed action ones.  Twenty-six people had been killed, 60 houses demolished, 400 houses seriously damaged, and 2,000 homes slightly damaged.
   
Sunday January 19th 1941  
As an experiment, it was decided to provide hot meals for 1,000 people at the Guildhall on Sunday January 19th 1941.  Tickets, costing 9d for adults and 6d for children, could be bought at any warden's post.   The meal consisted of soup, a joint and a sweet and there were two sittings, at Noon and 1.30pm.
   
Monday January 27th 1941  
On Monday January 27th 1941 there was a terrific explosion of a different type, when an attempt was made to restore the gas supply from the gasworks at Coxside.  Three men were killed in the gas works and five injured.   Several ominous bulges in the roadways were noted at Sutton Road, Notte Street, Exeter Street, Bedford Street and Union Street, caused by broken gas mains.
   
January 1941  

During the month of January 1941 Number 247 Squadron RAF, based at RAF Roborough, received its first Hawker Hurricane aircraft.  However, there is no evidence that the Squadron played any part in the defence of Plymouth from aerial attacks, reliance being made entirely on anti-aircraft batteries both ashore and afloat.
Confirmed by the late Mr David Penberthy from research done at The National Archives, 2010.

   
February 1941  
There were by February 1941 about twelve girl porters working at Plymouth Station and North Road Plymouth Station.  They worked in half-day shifts, loading and unloading trains.
   
Saturday February 1st 1941  
On Saturday February 1st 1941 a new TOC-H hostel, for 47 men, was opened at 46 Union Street, Plymouth.  The cost was in the form of a gift from the British War Relief Society of America.
   
February 1941  
Between 150 and 160 bus conductresses were now working for the Plymouth Corporation Transport Department and the Western National Omnibus Company in Plymouth.
   
February 1941  
It was reported in February 1941 that many ancient documents housed in solicitors' offices were being sent to the waste paper collection.
   
Monday February 10th 1941  
The Post Office at Turnchapel, Plymstock, reopened at 9am on Monday February 10th 1941 as a result of protests about its closure back in July 1940.
   
Thursday February 13th 1941  
Plymouth experienced its 272nd alert between 3.40am and 4.20am on the morning of Thursday February 13th 1941.  Sadly, however, the bombs had already been dropped and destroyed three houses in Alfred Road, Ford.  Mrs Violet Susan Trotman, aged 32, plus her 7-years-old daughter, Pamela Violet Trotman, and 2-years-old son, Leonard Alfred Trotman, all of 23 Alfred Road, Ford, died in that raid.  Her husband, Able Seaman Alfred Ernest Trotman, was presumably away serving aboard ship somewhere.  Three others at the same address, Mr Richard Shears, aged 64; 66-years-old Emmaline Shears, and Mr Henry Reginald Baker, aged 41, also perished.
   
February 1941  
Black-out blinds cost from 1s 11d in February 1941.
   
Wednesday February 19th 1941  
Wednesday February 19th 1941 saw the City's 278th air raid alert, between 7.15pm and 10.50pm.  The German bombers were actually on their way to South Wales but dropped a few high-explosive bombs in the area of Valletort Road at Stoke and Stonehouse Town Hall.
   
Tuesday February 25th 1941  
The War Damage Bill passed its final stage in the Houses of Parliament on Shrove Tuesday, February 25th 1941.
   
February 1941  
Disused bakeries in Commercial Road, Treville Street and West Hoe were to be taken over by the City Council in order to provide cooked meals to residents bombed out of their homes.  Ex-naval cooks and unemployed bakers were to be recruited at the rate of 1s 3½d per hour, plus a war bonus of six shillings per week.  There was double pay on Sundays.
   
At Messrs Spooner's premises on the corner of Bedford Street and Old Town Street fourteen fire-watchers patrolled the building every night.  Each person did one night in eight and there were also four full-time, paid, fire-watchers. 
   
The cost of a gents' haircut had risen from 1s to 1s 3d.
   
March 1941  
In March 1941, just before the Plymouth Blitz, the Great Western Railway Company and the Southern Railway Company laid in a link between their lines at Saint Budeaux.   This enabled GWR trains to and from London to use the lightly-used Southern main line to get to Exeter if their own main line was damaged.  It also meant that Southern trains had an alternative route into and out of Plymouth if required.
   
Friday March 7th 1941  
On Friday March 7th 1941 the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Lord Astor, accepted a mobile canteen from the English Speaking Union.  It had been donated to them by Miss Clara Harrington, of the USA, in memory of Mr Joseph Riter.  The canteen was painted in the Women's' Voluntary Service (WVS) colours of sea green and maroon.
   
March 1941  
"Blitz Soup" was being served in local restaurants.  It comprised beans, lentils, peas, carrots and macaroni.
   
Monday March 10th 1941  

The Duke of Kent arrived in Plymouth on Monday March 10th 1941 for a four days visit.

   
Friday March 14th/Saturday March 15th 1941  

Between 8.30pm on the night of Friday March 14th and 12.37am on the morning of Saturday March 15th 1941 there were three raids, during which five people were killed.  Six bombs fell in the Royal Navy Avenue area of Keyham, where seven houses were demolished and 50 seriously damaged.   Some 300 more were slightly damaged.  Six bombs fell in Central Park, two near the Southern Railway at Devonport, five in Beaumont Terrace and a few odd ones in various parts of Stoke, Saint Budeaux, Crownhill, Plympton, Plymstock and Hooe.  Incendiary bombs were also dropped and started some 27 fires.

Those killed in these raids were: Mr Francis John Beare, aged 76, his wife, Mrs Emily Elizabeth Beare, 65, and their son, 36-years-old Mr Francis William Beare, all of 22 Royal Navy Avenue, Keyham.  With them that fateful night were their daughter, Mrs Olive Blades, 29, and her 2-years-old son, Derrick Albert Blades, of 15 Watts Park Road, Peverell, both of whom also died in the raid.

   

Thursday March 20th/Friday March 21st 1941

Then, as now, a visit from Royalty can attract the wrong sort of attention and so it was on Thursday March 20th 1941.  HRH King George VI and Queen Elizabeth arrived by Royal Train at 10.30am that morning at North Road Plymouth Station, where they were greeted by Lady Astor, deputising for her husband, and other high ranking service officers.  They visited the Royal Marine Barracks, the Royal Naval Barracks, the Royal Dockyard, and Her Majesty even called in on the patients and staff of the Royal Naval Hospital, before taking tea with Lady Astor at No. 3 Elliot Terrace on the Hoe.  During this there was an air raid alert but it came to nothing.  After tea, the party visited the YMCA in Union Street before embarking on the Royal Train again, ready for departure at 5.45pm.

It had been a good day but rumours were apparently circulating around the Royal Air Force operational room at Saint Eval in Cornwall that 'Plymouth was due to catch a packet tonight'.  In preparation, according to Gerald Wasley in his book "Blitz", they made ready four Gloster Gladiator biplanes for the defence of Plymouth.

At just after 8.30pm the alert was sounded and at 8.39 the attack started.  First came a group of Heinkel III bombers flying at between 9,900 and 11,500 feet.  Included in the load of bombs that they dropped were 34 delayed action high-explosive ones.  The pathfinder force, who should have arrived first and dropped flares to light the target, arrived at 8.41pm, flying at an altitude of 19,000 feet.  Their shower of flares was followed by 12,500 incendiaries and other high-explosive bombs.

Once they had turned away to go back home to their airfields in France, two further squadrons dropped their bomb loads, which included 17 blockbusters, each weighing a ton.  To add further hell to that which was raining down on the City, a squadron that had been sent to bomb the Westland Aircraft factory at Yeovil, diverted to direct their bombs on Plymouth when bad weather prevented them from finding their original target.

To quote Gerald Wasley: 'There was no running away for those caught in this air raid, there was no escape, perhaps worst of all there was no way of retaliating'.

The scene as firemen try to put out the fires in Old Town Street, just up from Spooner's Corner.

The scene as firemen try to put out the fires in Old
Town Street, just up from Spooner's Corner.

During this raid the premises of Messrs Spooner and Company Limited, directly across from Saint Andrew's Church, was the first to suffer.  It so quickly spread that it became obvious within a very short space of time that Plymouth's own Fire Brigade could not cope.  At 8.55pm the first and second stages of a Regional Reinforcement Scheme was put into operation and additional water pumps from Plympton, Saltash, Torpoint, Kingsbridge, Tavistock, Launcedston, Bodmin, Wadebridge, Fowey, Liskeard, Lostwithiel, Yelverton, Looe, Torquay, Exeter, Bridgewater, Barnstaple and Yeovil had arrived in the City by 11pm.  Between 9.20pm and 11.47pm 21 pumps from the various naval and military establishments in the area were also at the Fie Service's disposal.

Soon numbers 1 to 13 Bedford Street were engulfed in flames, which then spread to the Municipal Offices, the Guildhall, and the General Post Office in Westwell Street.  Properties in Union Street, The Octagon, East Stonehouse and Millbay also suffered.

The raid lasted until 12.20am in the early hours of March 21st.  The centre of Plymouth was aflame.  When the other fire brigades did arrive in Plymouth - their sole navigational aid being the bright orange glow in the night sky which indicated where Plymouth was - they found they could not assist in putting out the fires because their equipment was not compatible with that used in the City.   Many of the fires were left to simply burn themselves out.

With the top of St Andrew's Cross in the foreground, this was the scene at Spooner's Corner the following morning.

With the top of Saint Andrew's Cross in the foreground,
this was the scene at Spooner's Corner the following morning.
Spooner's is on the left, Old Town Street in the centre
and Whimple Street on the right.

At 4.35am on the Friday morning the fires were declared to be under control.  A total of 796 firemen, using 158 appliances, were then on duty.

During this air raid, when the Synagogue was threatened with destruction like the rest of the City Centre, the sacred Torah scrolls were removed by the minister, the Reverend Wilfred Wolfson, and with the aid of a Mr Widdicombe, placed in an adjacent cellar for safety.
Confirmed by E-mail correspondence with the Reverend Wolfson's grandson, Mr Ellis Pearlman, 2009.

The worst casualties were at the City Hospital Maternity Ward, which received a direct hit.  Four nurses were killed during the raid: Emily Hellen Kelly, aged 37 years; Winifred May McGuirk, aged 19 years; Lydia Rebecca Walters, aged 16 years; and Probationary Nurse Monica White, aged 17 years.

Nineteen children died in the Maternity Ward that night: Michael John Birdman, aged 21 months; Derek Blatchford, aged 2 years; John Blatchford, aged 3 years; Angela Earle, aged 4 months; Philip Eve, aged 2 years; Terence Michael Fox, aged 23 months; Peter Hamlyn, aged 4 months; Leslie Frank Hogg, aged 10 days; Alan John Jones-Burnell, aged 2 years; twins Maureen and Nicholas John Lowndes-Millward, aged 10 months; Albert Michael McManus, aged 21 months; Charles Burnard Matthews, aged 18 months; Susan Peacock, aged 3 months; Pauline May Sharland, aged 1 month; Winifred Valerie Shears, aged 23 months; Shirley Short, aged 2 years; and Phyllis Taylor, aged 11 months.  However, the saddest loss was that of one-week-old Harold Santilla, who died with his mother, 24-years-old Mrs Dorothy May Santilla.

Another mother died in that raid, Mrs Beatrice Rosina May Parker, aged 19 years, but her daughter, Miss Gwen Parker and born only four days previous, survived and now lives on Vancouver Island, Canada.  In  January 2011 she visited her Mother's unmarked grave in Ford Park Cemetery for the first time.

Also destroyed was Hyde Park School.

Thanks to the research efforts of the late Mr David Penberthy, who before he passed away had scrutinised the Operations Records of number 247 Squadron, RAF, based at Roborough Airfield, it can be revealed that all our protecting aircraft were safely tucked up at Roborough during this air raid.  Two Hurricane aircraft were despatched at 3pm, 4pm and 5.05pm to carry out air raid patrols but the last two, 7016 piloted by Sergeant McKay and 6622 by Sergeant Doherty, had both returned to base by 6.10pm.  It would appear that nothing took off to intercept the bombers engaged in that night's raid on Plymouth. 

The fires raging at Drake Circus.

 

It was during this raid that Police Constable Alan John Hill earned a British Empire medal for gallant conduct in an incident at the Southern Railway Company's  goods yard adjacent to Friary Station.
Confirmed by E-mail correspondence from PC Hill's daughter, Mrs Julie Jackson, 2008.

   

Friday March 21st/Saturday March 22nd 1941

If Plymothians thought that that was it, they were wrong.   At 8.50pm the following night, Friday March 21st, it started all over again.   Apparently there was no warning and the sudden appearance of the raiders coming in from the north-east caught the City by surprise.  The target was the area adjoining the one hit the previous night and the pathfinder planes circled the City for some twenty minutes positioning themselves before dropping their flares on the chosen area.  The bombers soon followed.  They encountered no resistance from the Royal Air Force.

Fires raged over a wide area, from the timber yards and tar distillery at Coxside in the east to the Royal Naval Barracks at Keyham and the Royal William Victualling Yard in the west.  One man was killed and two injured on Drake's IslandSaint Andrew's Church, spared the night before, was gutted, as were the Guildhall and the Municipal Offices.  The Westminster and Hacker's Hotels in the Crescent were destroyed, as also was the fate of the Plymouth Co-operative Society's emporium.  Five servicemen were killed at Osborne Place, The Hoe, by an unexploded bomb.

The fires raging at Drake Circus.

The fires raging at Drake Circus.

Only two buildings survived in the City Centre that night, the National Westminster Bank in Bedford Street and the the offices of The Western Morning News Company in Frankfort Street.  Neither received a direct hit and both were modern buildings constructed of more fire-resistant materials.  Unfortunately the newspaper's photographic department at the rear was destroyed and with it went pictures of old Plymouth.

As there was no City Centre left for its buses to serve, the Western National  Omnibus Company Limited moved its terminus from Saint Andrew's Cross to Sherwell Arcade, just north of the City Museum and Art Gallery in Tavistock Road.

Gerald Wasley points out that the only politician to visit the City after these two terrible nights was Mr Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Health. The rest, including the Home Secretary, stayed away.  The King and Queen sent a message of sympathy to Lady Astor.

However, the Australian nation was unlikely to be left in any doubt how badly Plymouth was suffering during the War: the Australian Prime Minster, Mr Robert Gordon Menzies, was staying in the City that night.

This was the second night of the Blitz that the Hurricane's of number 247 Squadron were safely tucked up for the night when the raid came, the last two, Flight-Sergeant Makins in 7016 and Sergeant Fowler in 7020 being the last to land at Roborough at 7.10pm after completing a one-hour convoy patrol.

In the lull that followed those two nights, Plymouth buried its dead.  Naval ratings from HMS "Raleigh", across the water at Torpoint, were given the task of recovering bodies from the ruins.

   
March 25th 1941  
On March 25th 1941 some of the boys from Hyde Park School were transferred to Montpelier School, where they attended on a split-shift basis from 1.30pm until 5.15pm, and the girls were moved to Laira School.
Ministry of Education, “Report by HM Inspectors on Hyde Park County Secondary School, Plymouth”, Ministry of Education, London, 1949, held by the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, Plymouth, accession number 2982/6.
   
Monday April 7th/Tuesday  April 8th 1941  
Between 9.30pm on Monday April 7th and 3.35am on Tuesday April 8th 1941 there were three alerts.  During the third one, bombs fell at Hartley, Mannamead, Mutley, Lipson, Mount Gould and Friary and also at Swilly.
   
Monday April 21st/Tuesday April 22nd 1941  

The evening of Monday April 21st was fine and cloudless, ideal weather for a piece of accurate bombing.  Plymothians were enjoying the spring evening, totally unaware that on the airfields of France the Germans were preparing 120 aircraft for an attack on Plymouth.

How people must have dreaded 8.30pm in those days.   Although Pat Twyford claimed that the sirens went off at about 9.30pm, Gerald Wasley says the raid started at 8.39, when the pathfinders arrived over the City and dropped their flares and incendiaries.  This time the Devonport end of the City was the main target.

There was very little left of Fore Street, Devonport, after the first raid of April 1941.

There was very little left in Fore Street, Devonport,
after the first raid of April 1941.  The tower of the Public
Hall is in the distance, the back of the Post Office is
on the right, and the Midland Bank and Marks & Spencer's
are behind the steam rollers.

The Royal Navy suffered that night, when ninety-six sailors were killed when a bomb penetrated the basement of Boscawen Block at the Royal Naval Barracks.  Only seventy-eight bodies were ever recovered, the remainder burnt beyond recognition.  Johnston Terrace School was totally destroyed.

The following morning, "The Western Morning News" appeared as usual.  It was only six pages but it was up-to-date.  It was also something of a miracle as it had been produced in the Leicester Harmsworth building in Frankfort Street, encircled by buildings on fire and with bombs crashing down all around it.  Once again the building survived a terrible onslaught, but luckily no direct hit.  The raid had lasted for six hours, yet the BBC that morning announced that the raid had been 'short and sharp', a statement they were later forced to amend.

   

Tuesday April 22nd/Wednesday April 23rd 1941

An even heavier raid, if it were possible, took place the following night, Tuesday April 22nd-23rd, and once again Devonport was the main target.  At around 11.30pm the Devonport Telephone Exchange was hit and the Air Raid Precaution's control centre beneath Devonport Market was destroyed, severely hampering communications.  But bombs did fall elsewhere in Plymouth.  That night, for example, saw the City's major disaster, when an air raid shelter at Portland Square, just opposite the City Museum and Art Gallery, sustained a direct hit.  Seventy-two people were killed outright.

The Roman Catholic Church of the Most Holy Redeemer at Keyham was destroyed during this raid.

   
Wednesday April 23rd/Thursday April 24th 1941  

Devonport suffered yet again during the night of Wednesday April 23rd and it was remarked at the time that a fire could spread down a street as fast as a man could walk.

Blitzed houses in Goschen Street, Keyham Barton.

Blitzed houses in Goschen Street, Keyham Barton.

That night saw the last effort to publish "The Western Morning News" in Plymouth.  At midnight it became clear that this would no longer be possible and the staff and printing plates were immediately transferred by road to the Exeter office of "The Express and Echo".  "The Western Evening Herald" continued to be printed in Frankfort Street as the work was carried out during the more peaceful daytime.  Eventually new duplicated offices were brought into use at Tavistock and production and distribution continued from there until October 1944.

   
Saturday April 26th 1941  
A month after the War Damage Act 1941 received the Royal Assent, an article entitled "What to do if your house is bombed" appeared in "The Western Evening Herald".
   
Monday April 28th 1941  
As from Monday April 28th 1941 housewives in Plymouth had to pay cash-on-delivery for their milk.  Mr P Waldron, representing the Plymouth dairymen, told the press that it was being done because of the risk of records being destroyed and because so many people had now been evacuated and left no forwarding address.
   
Monday April 28th 1941  

On the afternoon of Monday April 28th 1941 the victims of the April raids were laid to rest in a mass grave at Efford Cemetery.  The grave was draped with Union Jacks and floral tributes ranging from humble posies of primroses to official wreaths and crosses.  Those taking part in the service included the Bishop of Exeter, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth and the Reverend W D Campbell representing the Nonconformist congregations.  A representative from the Salvation Army was also present, as were Officers from the three Services.  The Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Lord Astor, was prevented from attending by illness.

As "The Western Evening Herald" put it: 'Here, in a setting of beauty and peace, which looks out over  a wonderful panorama of the Devon hills, this company of Plymothians who were called on to make the supreme sacrifice rest together - men, women, and children.'

   
Monday April 28th/Tuesday April 29th 1941  

There was then a short respite until the by now familiar pattern of events took place on the night of Monday April 28th.  The enemy planes were actually over the City when the alarm was sounded and on that night the main targets were the North Yard of the Royal Dockyard, Saint Budeaux, Camel's Head, and Torpoint, where forty-three sailors were killed at HMS "Raleigh".

At the Royal Naval Armament Depot, Bull Point, six laboratories, a small arms ammunition store and many other buildings were damaged.  The main office building received a direct hit from an high explosive bomb, resulting in the deaths of 46-years-old Mr Alexander McMillan McHutcheon, an Armament Supply Officer who came from Argyllshire in Scotland, and 42-years-old Mr Joseph Wilson, a Messenger who lived at Somerset Place, Devonport, who were both on fire watching duty. 

Saltash also became a target that night and twelve fire engines were taken across on the Saltash Ferry to assist the small, local brigade.

   
Tuesday April 29th/Wednesday April 30th 1941  

Devonport, Milehouse, Keyham and Saltash were the main targets the following night, Tuesday April 29th.  Devonport High School for Girls received a direct hit, the gasometer at Keyham Gas Works was set alight, the Great Western Railway Company's locomotive number 4911, "Bowden Hall", took the blast of a bomb that landed nearby at Keyham Station, which brought rail services into and out of Cornwall to a halt, and over 100,000 books were destroyed by fire at the Central Library in Tavistock Road, Plymouth.

   
Wednesday April 30th 1941  

By the end of April 1941 there were 19 food centres open in Plymouth.  At three of them a two-course meal was available between Noon and 2.30pm and again between 5.30 and 7.30pm for the price of 9d: Treville Street School; Number 40 Portland Square and Plymouth High Schools for Girls.

At a charge of 4d per person, a meal consisting of bread, soup, tea and potato stew, was available between the hours of 8am, Noon to 2.30pm and 5.30 to 7.30pm at: 30-31 Ker Street and Morice Town School.  A similar meal was available between the two latter times at Oxford Street School; Frederick Street School;  Keyham Roman Catholic School;  Saint James the Great School; North Prospect School; York Street School; Sutton Road School; King Street School, Devonport; Salisbury Road School; and Prince Rock School.

In addition, or perhaps alternatively, people made homeless by the bombing could obtain temporary accommodation at Salisbury Road Baptist Chapel; Saint Gabriel's Crypt; the Methodist Central Hall; the Victory Hall, in Victory Street, Keyham; Hope Baptist Chapel; and Compton Methodist Chapel.

Held in reserve and not at that time in use were the Presbyterian Church at Hartley; Mount Gould Methodist Chapel; Mutley Methodist Chapel; Peverll Park Methodist Chapel; Saint Budeaux Methodist Chapel; and Keyham Methodist Chapel Hall, Admiralty Street.

The YMCA and some 30 other organisations were also operating mobile canteens, some of which ventured out on to Dartmoor to search out those taking shelter away from the City.  It was reported by "The Western Evening Herald" that to ensure a steady supply of milk to the City, farmers were calling their cows to milking much earlier than they used to.

Traders who had lost their stock could get advice and immediate financial assistance from the Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce at a new emergency centre in Cobourg Street, opposite the Education Offices.   Retailers and catering establishment owners were able to get similar facilities from the Saint Aubyn Masonic Hall at Stoke.

   
Wednesday April 30th/Thursday May 1st 1941  
However, the worst was now over.  Pat Twyford recorded in his diary for May 1st: 'A raid-free night -- and blessed sleep.  Was that sleep good!'  The raids continued but the Plymouth Blitz was over.
   
Friday May 2nd 1941  

Mr Winston Churchill, the Prime Minster, visited Plymouth and toured the blitzed areas on Friday May 2nd 1941.

Mr Winston Churchill touring bombed Plymouth.

Mr Winston Churchill  touring bombed Plymouth.

   
Saturday May 3rd 1941  
It was not until Saturday May 3rd 1941 that children were evacuated from the City.  Some 650 school children left Friary Station on a special train bound for North Cornwall.
   
Sunday May 4th 1941  
On Sunday May 4th 1941 Double Summer Time started.
   
Monday May 5th 1941  

A party of children from Keyham Barton Roman Catholic School left for Camborne, in Cornwall, on Monday May 5th 1941, under the evacuation scheme.
Notes extracted by Debbie Watson, formerly of the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, from the Log Books of Keyham Barton Roman Catholic Primary School, which are in private ownership.

   
Saturday May 10th 1941  
On Saturday May 10th 1941 some 2,000 youngsters between the ages of 5 and 16 met at their respective schools and bade farewell to their parents and families.   Then 41 Corporation motor buses transported them to North Road Plymouth Station to board trains for Cornwall and safer places in Devon.  Some parents bought Platform Tickets and were able to see their children off on the Station.  Every ten children had a helper to look after them and the whole event was presided over by Mr E Stanley Leatherby, who had been Lord Mayor in 1933-34.  Included in this group were children from the Keyham Barton Roman Catholic School, under the leadership of Miss Duggan.
Notes extracted by Debbie Watson, formerly of the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, from the Log Books of Keyham Barton Roman Catholic Primary School, which are in private ownership.
   
Tuesday May 13th 1941  
Another 400 children were evacuated on the following Tuesday, May 13th 1941 and a further group from the Keyham Barton Roman Catholic School left on the morning of May 16th 1941.
Notes extracted by Debbie Watson, formerly of the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, from the Log Books of Keyham Barton Roman Catholic Primary School, which are in private ownership.
   
Thursday May 22nd 1941  

Compulsory fire watching orders were made on Thursday May 22nd 1941 covering Plymouth, Exeter and Penzance.

   
Monday June 2nd 1941  
War coupon trading commenced on Whit Monday, June 2nd 1941.
   
Tuesday June 17th 1941  
HRH the Duke of Kent arrived in Plymouth for a three-day visit on Tuesday June 17th 1941.
   
Tuesday July1st 1941  
The Clothes Rationing Order came into operation on Tuesday July 1st 1941.

Also on that day HRH the Princess Royal arrived in the Westcountry for a three-day visit that included Plymouth.

   
Friday July 4th 1941  
On Friday July 4th 1941 Britain's reconstruction chief, Lord Reith, advised Plymouth to 'plan boldly and plan now'.
   
Saturday July12th 1941  
Mr Vincent Massey, the High Commissioner of Canada, visited Plymouth on Saturday July 12th 1941 followed a few days later, on the 14th, by the Honourable Peter Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand, who visited local service stations.
   
Sunday July 20th 1941  
The "V for Victory" Campaign opened on Sunday July 20th 1941.
   
Monday July 21st 1941  
On Monday July 21st 1941 the Lord Mayor opened a new pavilion on the Hoe to replace the one destroyed in the Blitz.  However, this one, which was a marquee, was to be run by the YMCA for the benefit of service personnel only.  Mr W G Soper was in charge.
   
Saturday August 2nd 1941  
Following the destruction of the Congress Hall in Martin Street, the Salvation Army took possession of the former Baptist Chapel in Portland Villas on Saturday August 2nd 1941 as a replacement headquarters.
   
Saturday August 9th 1941  
It was announced on Saturday August 9th 1941 that the General Post Office had made ready a fleet of motor vans fitted out as mobile post offices to be rushed to any location in the South West where the post office had been put out of action by enemy raids.  Also ready for use was a prefabricated building with more facilities and even spare sets of post office furniture that could be rushed anywhere it was needed.
   
Friday August 15th 1941  
The Royal Air Force opened Harrowbeer Airfield at Yelverton on Friday August 15th 1941.
The commemorative stone at Harrowbeer states when it was it was laid on August 15th 1981 it was the fortieth anniversary of the official opening.
   
Saturday August 16th 1941  

A major problem with writing about events during the Second World War is that because of news censorship many important incidents did not come to the public's attention until months after they happened and with no date specified.  One such major event was first mentioned in the press on Saturday August 16th 1941 although it had clearly taken place during the heavy raids in either March or April 1941.  It was the rescue of 14 scared horses from the stables of the Three Towns Dairy Company.

An ARP Warden by the name of Mr Percy William Lewis Waldron, who was assistant manager of the Three Towns Dairy Company and lived at 4 Holdsworth Street, Pennycomequick, Plymouth, saw a fierce fire burning in the vicinity of the Company's stables and garage.  Although the air raid was still in progress, he walked to the stables and there found the milk round supervisor, Mr Walter Nathaniel Arthur Downs, had been able to extinguish the large fire on the dairy premises but it was still raging above and alongside the stables.  The two men, who were not used to dealing with horses, led the fourteen, frightened animals to safety, along with the Company's eleven cats.

   
Thursday September 25th 1941  
Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador to the United States of America, paid a surprise visit to Plymouth on Thursday September 25th 1941.
   
Friday September 26th 1941  
The Plymouth Citizens' Advice Bureau was opened on Friday September 26th 1941.
   
Friday October 10th 1941  
At 3.30pm on Friday October 10th 1941 a parade of tanks left Mutley Plain for the Octagon, where they went on show to raise funds under the banner of "Speed the Tanks".  The 25-ton "Waltzing Matilda" and the two 16-ton "Valentine" tanks plus scout cars and breakdown lorries were under the command of Lieutenant F J Turpin, who appealed 'for all the tanks you can give both ourselves and the Russians'.  They were later displayed in Central Park as well.
   
Saturday October 11th 1941  
On Saturday October 11th 1941 King Haakon and Prince Olaf of Norway visited Plymouth.
   
Wednesday October 29th 1941  
Chief Superintendent W T Hutchings was appointed Chief Constable of Plymouth on Wednesday October 29th 1941.  He took up post on Monday December 1st.
   
Monday November 10th 1941  
Lord Astor was elected Lord Mayor of Plymouth for the third year running on Monday November 10th 1941, when the American Ambassador, Mr J G Winant, was guest of honour at a Civic luncheon in the British Restaurant at the Guildhall.
   
Friday November 14th 1941  
On Friday November 14th 1941 news arrived of the sinking of the aircraft carrier HMS "Ark Royal".

Only a few children living in the Plymstock area had taken advantage of the evacuation programme, it was announced on November 14th 1941.  Nineteen children had been evacuated from the schools at Oreston and 17 from Goosewell.  Five girls and two boys had been sent away from Hooe but one had since returned home.

   
Sunday November16th 1941  
It was reported on Sunday November 16th 1941 that the first of three new villages for evacuees and essential war service staff was to be opened shortly.  These were sponsored by the National Service Hostels Corporation Limited on behalf of the Government.  They comprised brick-built accommodation blocks, with electric lighting, kitchens, sick bay and even a police station with two cells.  The first one had provision for 3,000 people, with families accommodated in rooms with four bunks in two tiers and single women in dormitories of twenty bunks.  It had three large kitchens and eight 'feeding centres' that could seat 330 people at one sitting.  There was a staff of 80.  Accommodation was free for the first two weeks but thereafter single residents had to pay five shillings per week and families were charged double.  A rest centre for 320 people was also to be erected on the outskirts of Plymouth.
   
Monday November 17th 1941  
Rationing of canned meat, canned fish and canned beans started on Monday November 17th 1941.
   
Friday November 21st 1941  
An inspection of Plymouth's emergency kitchens was carried out on Friday November 21st by Major G Lloyd George, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Food.
   
Tuesday December 2nd 1941  
It was announced in the House of Commons on Tuesday December 2nd 1941 that the age limit for compulsory military service was to be raised to 50.
   
Wednesday December 10th 1941  
On Wednesday December 10th 1941 HMS "Prince of Wales" and HMS "Repulse" were sunk by the Japanese.
   
Thursday December 18th 1941  
Unmarried women were to be conscripted into the Services under the terms of the National Service Act, which was passed by Parliament on Thursday December 18th 1941.
   
Friday January 9th 1942  
Doctor Andrew Scotland was appointed the new Director of Education for Plymouth on Friday January 9th 1942.
   
Monday January  12th 1942  
On Monday January 12th 1942 a start was made in the Mutley area with the collection of the City's unnecessary railings for iron and steel scrap.  Railings of a historical or ornamental interest were not moved.  Compensation was claimable.
   
Saturday January 17th 1942  
One notable flying boat flight landed at RAF Mount Batten in the early hours of Saturday January 17th 1942, with Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook and the Air Chief Marshall, Sir Charles Portal, on board.  Their flight from Norfolk, Virginia, via Bermuda (to fool enemy aircraft out hunting for the aircraft) in a Boeing 314A named "Berwick" operated by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), had covered 3,287 miles and arrived twelve minutes ahead of schedule.  Mr Churchill had taken over the controls from senior pilot Commander Kelly Rogers for part of the journey.  The flight from Bermuda to Plymouth had taken 17 hours 55 minutes.  They left Plymouth for London by special train shortly after 11am.
   
Monday January 19th 1942  
Under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts 1939 and 1940, the requisitioning of unnecessary railings started on Monday January 19th 1942 in Compton, Crownhill, Saint Budeaux, Pennycross and Molesworth Wards.
   
Saturday January 31st 1942  
Princess Marie Louise, grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, visited the YMCA in Union Street, Plymouth, on Saturday January 31st 1942.
   
Monday February 9th 1942  
The rationing of soap for domestic use started on Monday February 9th 1942.
   
Saturday February 14th 1942  
The Hyde Park Social Centre, Plymouth, was opened on Saturday February 14th 1942 by HRH the Duke of Kent.  He remained in the City until February 16th.
   
Tuesday March 3rd 1942  
Tuesday March 3rd 1942 was a very special day for a number of City of Police Police and Fire Officers who, on that day, attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace when HM King George VI presented them with the British Empire Medals (BEM) for their bravery and gallant conduct during the heavy bombing raids of March and April 1941.  They were: Inspector Herbert Beswick; Police Constable Robert Eakers; Aircraftman (formerly Police Constable) Alan John Hill; Mr William Edgecombe; Mr Arthur Larson; and Private Leslie Stephens, who had been a Messenger in the Fire Brigade and was the youngest person at that time to have received an award at an investiture.  Among those in the audience were 2-years-old Wendy Hill and 9-years-old Beryl Eakers.
   
March 1942  
By March 1942 demolition of those buildings that had been destroyed in the air raids was well under way.  Messrs Charles Griffiths, a London company with experience of the aftermath of the London Blitz, were given the job and their foreman in Plymouth was a young man by the name of Mr George Donachy.
   
Friday March 20th 1942  
On Friday March 20th 1942, the first anniversary of the large air raids of 1941, King Peter of Yugoslavia arrived in Plymouth.  He took the salute the following day at the Plymouth Warship Week parade.  It was announced on Monday March 30th that Plymouth had collected £1,396,000, which was £170,000 more than Portsmouth.
   
Sunday April 5th 1942  
White bread was available for the last time on Easter Sunday April 5th 1942.
   
Monday April 6th 1942  
The Duke of Gloucester made a private visit to Plymouth on Easter Monday April 6th 1942.
   
Thursday April 9th 1942  
Mr Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary, visited Plymouth on Thursday April 9th 1942.
   
Thursday April 23rd 1942  
On Thursday April 23rd 1942 a silver gilt cup that had been given to Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth I was bought at Christie's in London by the National Arts Collection for £2,100.  It was announced that the cup was to be presented to the City of Plymouth in recognition of the gallantry of its inhabitants.
   
Thursday May 7th 1942  
The King and Queen made a six hours' surprise visit to Plymouth on Thursday May 7th 1942, during a three-days tour of Devon and Cornwall.
   
Monday May 11th 1942  
Plymouth was held in a state of siege during the weekend of Monday May 11th when an exercise involving the Services, Home Guard and Civil Defence was held.
   
Saturday July11th 1942  
On Saturday July 11th 1942 HRH the Duke of Kent once again visited Plymouth.
   
Sunday July 26th 1942  
On Sunday July 26th 1942 sweets and chocolates went on to the "points" system, with a ration of 2 ounces a week.
   
Saturday August8th 1942  
Double Summer Time ended on Saturday August 8th 1942, the same day that it was announced that women between the ages of 20 and 45 were to be called up.
   
Wednesday August 12th 1942  
The loss of aircraft carrier HMS "Eagle" was announced on Wednesday August 12th 1942.
   
Wednesday August 19th 1942  
The loss of the Devonport commissioned destroyer HMS "Foresight" was announced.
   
Tuesday August 25th 1942  
On Tuesday August 25th 1942 HRH the Duke of Kent, a frequent visitor to Plymouth, was killed on active service while on a flight to Iceland.
   
Sunday August 30th 1942  
The President of Poland visited Plymouth on Sunday August 30th 1942 and met officers and men of the Polish Navy who had distinguished themselves on convey escort duties.
   
Saturday September 26th 1942  
After Saturday September 26th 1942 it was impossible to enjoy an ice cream during the interval in a Gaumont cinema.  The sale of ice creams in their premises was not restored until March 1945.  Chocolates were still available - but only for six months.
   
Tuesday  November 3rd 1942  
On Tuesday November 3rd 1942 Plymouth-born merchant seaman Duncan Alexander Scott-Ford, aged 21, was hanged at Wandsworth Gaol for treachery.
   
Monday November 9th 1942  
Lord Astor was elected to his fourth term of office as Lord Mayor on Monday November 9th 1942.
   
Thursday November 12th 1942  

The Freedom of Plymouth was presented by Lord Astor to Field-Marshal Smuts at South Africa House in London on Thursday November 12th 1942.

   
Sunday November 15th 1942  
Church bells were rung throughout the country on Sunday November 15th 1942 to celebrate the success of the forces of the Empire and Allies in the Battle of Egypt.
   
Sunday November 22nd 1942  
On Sunday November 22nd 1942 the milk ration for non-priority consumers was reduced to two pints a week.
   
Wednesday November 25th 1942  
The Archbishop of Canterbury visited the City on Wednesday November 25th 1942 and opened the Saint John Centre at Devonport.
   
Friday December 25th 1942  

Church bells were rung on Christmas Day (Friday December 25th) 1942 between 9am and 12 Noon.

   
Sunday February 7th 1943  
On Sunday February 7th 1943 the Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill, arrived back in Britain from North Africa in the Liberator "Commando".
   
Wednesday March 10th 1943  
Two deaths occurred Wednesday March 10th 1943, that of Mr W T Hutchings, Chief Constable of Plymouth, and Mr Laurence Binyon, author of the words 'They Shall Grow Not Old'.
   
Saturday March 20th 1943  
After Saturday March 20th 1943 it was no longer possible to treat your girlfriend to chocolates at Gaumont cinemas.   Ice creams had already been withdrawn from sale.  The sale of chocolates was not restored until August 1947.
   
Tuesday March 23rd 1943  
HRH the Duchess of Kent started a two-day visit to Plymouth on Tuesday March 23rd 1943.
   
Thursday April 1st  1943  
On Thursday April 1st 1943 the Royal Air Force celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
   
Tuesday April20th 1943  
The Prime Minister announced on Adolf Hitler's 54th birthday, Tuesday April 20th 1943, that the rules were being relaxed and that henceforth church bells could be rung on Sundays and special days.
   
Wednesday April21st 1943  
The Admiralty announced on Princess Elizabeth's 17th birthday, Wednesday April 21st 1943, that HM Submarine "Thunderbolt" was overdue and must be presumed lost.
   
Sunday May 23rd 1943  
On Sunday May 23rd 1943 the first service since its destruction was held in the ruined Saint Andrew's Church.  Police had to control the crowds as hundreds of people turned up for the service.
   
Monday May 24th 1943  
Mr John Fawke Skittery was appointed Chief Constable of Plymouth on Monday May 24th 1943.  He was previously the Sub-Divisional Inspector of the Metropolitan Police.
   
Tuesday June 1st 1943  
There was a march past of women's services on Tuesday June 1st 1943 as part of the Plymouth Wings for Victory Week.  The salute was taken by Miss Pauline Gower, Commandant of the Women's Air Training Auxiliary.
   
Saturday June 5th 1943  
On Saturday June 5th 1943 the Prime Minister returned to England after visiting America and North Africa.
   
Monday June 14th 1943  

In the early hours of Monday June 14th 1943 there was a short but heavy raid on both Plymouth and Plympton.  It only lasted a half hour but Twyford describes it as 'one of the liveliest half-hour's Plymouth citizens spent.'  Between 70 and 80 high explosive bombs of between 250kg to 1,000kg were dropped but, luckily, about half of them failed to detonate.  However, one of the biggest crashed through the roof of the centre of Greenbank Police Headquarters, bringing tons of masonry crashing down, but then lay unexploded on the landing of the first floor outside the magistrate's court and over the prison cells and control room.  The reserve headquarters at Widey Court had to be brought in to use until the bomb could be removed and the damage repaired.

This raid was the first big test for the newly constituted National Fire Service and the first at which the fire-fighters from Canada saw action.

   
Sunday July 4th 1943  
General Sikorski, the Polish Prime Minister and Commander in Chief, was killed on Sunday July 4th 1943 when the Liberator in which he, his daughter and his staff were travelling crashed shortly after leaving Gibraltar.   His body was landed at Plymouth on Saturday July 10th 1943.
   
Wednesday July21st 1943  
Mr Henry L Stimson, the American Secretary of War, visited Plymouth Hoe with Lord Astor on Wednesday July 21st 1943.
   
Thursday July29th 1943  
On Thursday July 29th 1943 Mr Bevin, the Minister of Labour, announced the extension of the registration of women from age 45 to 50.
   
Sunday August 15th 1943  
Double Summer Time was terminated on Sunday August 15th 1943.
   
Thursday  August 19th 1943  
A new British Restaurant was opened at Geasons, off Ridgeway, Plympton, at 12.15pm on Thursday August 19th 1943.   Mrs G Webber of Plympton was the first person to enjoy the daily fare of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast or mashed potatoes, kidney beans and green peas, followed by either baked apple dumpling and custard or baked rice pudding.  The cost was 1s 3d, with an additional 2d for a cup of tea or coffee.  Alongside the brick and concrete-built restaurant, in a separate building, was the kitchen.  In addition to providing some 1,000 meals daily for the 150-seater Restaurant, this was also used for supplying 1,000 hot meals a day to the district's 17 schools.  The foreman of the workmen who built the Restaurant was Mr V J C Payne.  It remained open until 2.15pm every day.  The formal opening took place on Friday November 5th 1943 (see below).
   
Saturday August 28th 1943  
Plymouth suffered a sharp attack on Saturday August 28th 1943.
   
Monday September 20th 1943  
It was announced on Monday September 20th 1943 that the Prime Minister had returned from the Quebec Conference aboard HMS "Renown".
   
September 22nd 1943  
In preparation for running special trains in support of the forthcoming invasion of Europe (D-Day), the Great Western Railway Company and the Southern Railway Company installed links between their lines at Launceston Station on September 22nd 1943.  This did not affect services to and from Plymouth.
   
Wednesday October 20th 1943  
On Wednesday October 20th 1943 a barrage balloon went out of control and crashed on to land at West Hooe Farm, Plymstock, where it exploded and caught fire to the farmhouse.
   
Friday November 5th 1943  
Plympton's British Restaurant was formally opened by Paymaster Rear-Admiral Sir Arthur Strickland KCB, the Ministry of Food's Chief Divisional Food Officer, on Friday November 5th 1943.  He was accompanied by the chairman of Plympton Rural District Council, Mr J F Hollow JP, and the Clerk and Engineer, Messrs Percy T Loosemore and W H Thompson.  8,800 meals had been served between August 19th and the official opening, with a peak of 1,020 in one week.  [6]
   
Saturday November 6th 1943  
The Right Honourable Clement R Atlee, the Deputy Prime Minister, addressed an audience in the Methodist Central Hall, Plymouth, on Saturday November 6th 1943.
   
Monday November 8th 1943  
On Monday November 8th 1943 the United States Naval Advanced Amphibious Base was set up in Plymouth to to house and train American service personnel preparing for the D-Day landings.  The head quarters was at Queen Anne's Battery, Coxside, where the 29th and 81st US Construction Battalions built a ship repair yard, a dry dock and three marine rail tracks for the repair and maintain US naval craft.  The Commanding Officer, Captain C F M S Quimby USN, occupied Hamoaze House at Mount Wise, Devonport.  Other locations that formed part of the base were Victoria Wharf, Martin's Wharf, Commercial Wharf, Baltic Wharf, Cattedown Quarry, Pomphlett Quarry, Shapter's Field, Richmond Walk, Turnchapel, Efford, Manadon, Vicarage Road, the old Stonehouse police station, Saltash Passage, the grounds of Saltram House, Edinburgh Street at Devonport, Coypol Depot at Marsh Mills, Chaddlewood, Raglan Barracks, the Brickfields, Devonport Park, land at Fore Street, as well as at HMS Raleigh and Barn Pool at Torpoint, Plaisterdown Camp near Tavistock, Saltash, Ivybridge, and even far up the river Tamar at Calstock.
   
Tuesday November 9th 1943  
Mayor choosing day was Tuesday November 9th 1943, when Lord Astor was appointed Lord Mayor of Plymouth for the fifth year in succession.
   
Friday November 12th 1943  
On Friday November 12th 1943 the Prime Minister left England aboard HMS "Renown".
   
Sunday November 14th 1943  
The film star, Miss Anna Neagle visited Plymouth on Sunday November 14th 1943.
   
Monday November 15th 1943  
In preparation for running special trains in support of the forthcoming invasion of Europe (D-Day), the Great Western Railway Company and the Southern Railway Company installed links between their lines at Lydford Station on Monday November 15th 1943.  This enabled Southern trains to travel via the GWR Launceston branch up to Lydford in order to regain their own main line in the event that the line between Plymouth and Tavistock should be damaged.
   
Monday November 15th 1943  
Devonport's first day nursery was opened by Mr L Hore-Belisha, the MP for Devonport, at Nelson Gardens, Stoke, on Monday November 15th 1943.
   
Tuesday November 16th 1943  
Plymouth suffered its 589th air raid at 5am on Tuesday November 16th 1943.
   
Thursday December 16th 1943  
The new Education Bill was published on Thursday December 16th 1943, raising the school leaving age to 15-years-old from April 1st 1945.
   
Tuesday December 28th 1943  
General Dwight D Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander, British and American Expeditionary Forces in the United Kingdom, on Tuesday December 28th 1943.
   
January 1944  
In January 1944 the United States' army opened a camp at Vicarage Road, Saint Budeaux, to house forces making preparations for the D-Day landings.
   
Saturday January 15th 1944  
General Montgomery paid a flying visit to Plymouth on Saturday January 15th 1944, the day that the Plymouth Merchant Navy Week was opened by the Lord Mayor of London.
   
Monday January 17th 1944  
Alderman Clifford Tozer was appointed the leader of Plymouth City Council on Monday January 17th 1944.
   
Tuesday January 18th 1944  
On Tuesday January 18th 1944 the Prime Minister arrived in Plymouth aboard HMS "King George V" on his way back to London.  It was a filthy night, with driving rain, so there were no onlookers.  A special train carried Mr Churchill to London, where he made a dramatic appearance from behind Mr Speaker's chair in the House of Commons.
   
Saturday February 12th 1944  
The United States' Army opened a field hospital at Manadon Vale on Saturday February 12th 1944.
   
Tuesday March 14th 1944  
It was announced on Tuesday March 14th 1944 that Plymouth's rates were to remain at 10s 4d in the £.
   
Sunday April 2nd 1944  
Double Summer Time was introduced on Sunday April 2nd 1944.
   
Thursday April13th 1944  
General Montgomery visited the district on Thursday April 13th 1944, and visited the Royal Dockyard and Princetown prison.
   
Tuesday April 25th 1944  
Plymouth City Council held a special meeting on Tuesday April 25th 1944 to discuss the constitution of the new Reconstruction Committee.
   
Thursday April 27th 1944  
Two days later, on Thursday April 27th 1944, the "Plan for Plymouth" was published.
   
Sunday April 30th 1944  

After a break of some six months the Hun gave Plymouth a sharp reminder during the early hours of Sunday April 30th 1944 that it was still very much a front line City.  The main target of the attack was the waterfront, with the worst incident being in the vicinity of Oreston, where 18 people were killed and 7 seriously injured.  An Anderson shelter and a public shelter were both hit, causing this high toll.  Also hit was the depot of the Western National Omnibus Company at Prince Rock, where three firewatchers were killed and many of the buses were destroyed by fire.  Browning Road, Fisher Road and Beaumont Street at Milehouse also suffered much damage.  Bombs fell over a wide area, including the Rising Sun Public House at Crabtree and Laira railway sidings.  The more harmless ones fell on the Tothill recreation ground and the Gas Company's recreation ground.

Plymothians were not to know it yet but that was the last they were to see of the German bombers.

   
Friday May 12th 1944  
The Plymouth Emergency Committee was informed on Friday May 12th 1944 that the Admiralty intended purchasing 230 acres of Devonport for an extension to the Royal Dockyard.
   
Tuesday May 23rd 1944  
The First Lord of the Admiralty visited Plymouth City Council on Tuesday May 23rd 1944.
   
Sunday May 28th 1944  
General Montgomery addressed a meeting of American army officers at the Odeon Cinema on Whit Sunday, May 28th 1944.
   
Saturday June 3rd 1944  
Plymouth's "Salute the Soldier Week" was opened on Saturday June 3rd 1944 by Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Chatfield.
   
Tuesday June 6th 1944 - D Day  
The sun set at 8.20pm on the evening of Monday June 5th 1944 and it was almost Full Moon that night.  It is estimated that some 36,000 troops left Plymouth the following morning for the beaches of Normandy.  The first to leave were 110 ships carrying the men of the United States VII Corps of the 4th Infantry Division, under the command of Rear-Admiral D P Moon aboard the "USS Bayfield".  After joining up with more vessels and troops from Salcombe, Dartmouth and Brixham, they were among the first to land at Utah Beach.  The second group to depart for Utah Beach was the US 29th Infantry Division under Commander C D Edgar.
   
Tuesday July 11th 1944  
The Government decided on Tuesday July 11th 1944 to lift the ban on access to coastal areas of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and part of Hampshire.
   
Monday July 24th 1944  
From Monday July 24th 1944 the Vicarage Road Camp at St Budeaux was used as a receiving base for troops returning from France.
   
Monday August 28th 1944  
Major Glenn Miller and the American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF) performed a concert at the Odeon Cinema, Plymouth, on Monday August 28th 1944.  Queues started forming at just after 9pm for the concert at 10.15pm and the police and military police formed cordons to control the crowd.  This was largely because it was announced that Bing Crosby hoped to appear on stage but he was detained elsewhere making recordings.  Only military and naval personnel were admitted to the concert, anyway, and admirals and ratings, generals and privates, sat together to listen to the 52-piece orchestra.  The vocalist was Sergeant Johnny Desmond and the Crew Chiefs were also on stage.  For two of the numbers the drummer, Sergeant Ray McKinley, took over the baton.  Earlier in the day Major Miller was given a hurried tour of the places of interest in the City and was entertained aboard a British naval vessel prior to the concert.
   
Sunday  September 17th 1944  

Double Summer Time ended on Sunday September 17th 1944, the day that Britain's black-out restrictions were all but banished.

   
Sunday October 15th 1944  
The publication of the local newspaper "The Western Morning News" had been transferred to Tavistock in April 1941 after the big raids of March that year.  On Sunday October 15th 1944 staff returned to the Plymouth office.
   
Wednesday October 18th 1944  
Extra rations for all were announced by the Minister of Food, Colonel Llewellin, on Wednesday October 18th 1944, as a special "Christmas Box" for the nation.
   
Wednesday October 25th 1944  
On Wednesday October 25th it was announced that the liquid milk ration for non-priority consumers was to be reduced from 2½  to 2 pints per week.
   
Friday November 17th 1944  
The Town and Country Planning Act, which was to have an important effect on Plymouth, became law on Friday November 17th 1944.
   
Sunday December 3rd 1944  
'Home Guard Units of the Plymouth Garrison will now "Stand Down"'.  This order, followed by the command "Dismiss", was given on the Hoe by the Garrison Commander, Colonel G Thomson, DSO, MC, on Sunday December 3rd 1944.
   
Thursday December 14th 1944  
Dim street lighting was introduced on some Plymouth streets on Thursday December 14th 1944.
   
December 1944  
Prisoners from a German submarine that went ashore on the Wolf Rock were landed at Plymouth.
   
Saturday December 23rd 1944  
The Order requiring the masking of headlamps on road vehicles was relaxed from Saturday December 23rd 1944.
   
Monday January 22nd/Tuesday January 23rd 1945  
The coldest night of the winter was on Monday 22nd/Tuesday 23rd, when there was 24½ degrees of frost recorded.
   
Friday January 26th 1945  
Heavy snow fell in Plymouth on Friday January 26th 1945.
   
Sunday February 11th 1945  
Two corvettes and the Steam Ship "Persier" were sunk in daylight on Sunday February 11th 1945 by a German U-boat between Burgh Island and the Eddystone Lighthouse.
   
Saturday March 3rd 1945  
On Saturday March 3rd 1945 ice creams once again went on sale at Gaumont cinemas.  They had been withdrawn from sale in 1942.
   
Friday March 16th 1945  
Mr A V Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, opened a new NAAFI club on the site of the old Royal Hotel on Friday March 16th 1945.
   
Monday March 19th 1945  
The Minister of Education, Mr R A Butler, visited the City on Monday March 19th 1945.
   
Wednesday May 2nd 1945  
he air raid warning system was discontinued on Wednesday May 2nd 1945.
   
Monday May 7th 1945  
On Monday May 7th 1945 it was announced that Germany had surrendered unconditionally at 2.41am, French time.
   
Tuesday May 8th 1945  
Tuesday May 8th 1945 was VE (Victory in Europe) Day.
   
Friday May 11th 1945  
The streets lights went back on in Plymouth on Friday May 11th 1945, the first time for five and a half years.
   
Wednesday May 23rd 1945  
On Wednesday May 23rd 1945 the Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill, tendered his resignation to the King.
   
Saturday May 26th 1945  
The Lord Mayor of London opened the Plymouth Royal and Merchant Navies Week on Saturday May 26th 1945.
   
Wednesday June 13th 1945  
On Wednesday June 13th 1945 public pleasure services were resumed in the Hamoaze when the "Swift" left Phoenix Wharf for the Royal Albert Bridge.  This return to normality proved very popular and the "Lively" was put on as a relief boat.  Between them they carried about 150 passengers.  Permission had been given to run the trips twice daily and Wednesdays and Saturdays and it was hoped to extend the trips to Calstock, as before the War.
   
Wednesday June 13th 1945  
At the Plymouth City Council Works Committee meeting on Wednesday June 13th, it was agreed to reinstate the automatic traffic signals at the corner of Frankfort Street, George Street and Bedford Street and also at the corner of Old Town Street and Treville Street.  The estimated cost of the whole scheme was £1,160.
   
Monday June 18th 1945  
Demobilisation started on Monday June 18th 1945.
   
Tuesday June 19th 1945  
The Royal Mail Lines' passenger liner "Drina" landed passengers at Plymouth on Tuesday June 19th 1945, the first liner to call for five and a half years.  She had taken 16 days to cross from Argentina and carried 25 passengers and 7,000 tons of meat bound for British troops in Germany.
   
Sunday July 1st 1945  
On Sunday July 1st 1945 HMAS "Australia", flagship of the Australian Royal Navy, arrived at the Royal Dockyard, Devonport, for a refit.
   
Thursday July5th 1945  
The General Election was held on Thursday July 5th 1945.
   
Saturday July14th 1945  
Double Summer Time ended for the last time on Saturday July 14th 1945, when clocks were put back one hour.
   
Sunday July 15th 1945  
The milk ration for non-priority consumers was cut on Sunday July 15th 1945 from 3 to 2½ pints a week.
   
Sunday July 22nd 1945  
The tea ration was increased on Sunday July 22nd 1945 from 2 to 2½ ounces.
   
Thursday July 26th 1945  
The General Election results were announced on Thursday July 26th 1945.  It was a sweeping victory for the Labour Party, with Plymouth returning three Labour Members of Parliament, Mrs L Middleton, Sutton Division; Mr H M Medland, Drake Division; and Mr Michael Foot, Devonport Division.  Mr Clement Atlee became the new Prime Minister.
   
Thursday August 2nd 1945  
On Thursday August 2nd 1945, His Majesty King George VI met with President Truman of the United States aboard HMS "Renown" moored in Plymouth Sound.
   
Sunday August 5th 1945  
The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Sunday August 5th 1945.
   
Thursday August 9th 1945  
The second bomb being dropped on Nagasaki on Thursday August 9th 1945.
   
Monday August 20th 1945  
The Minister of Fuel approved a decrease of 2d per gallon in the price of petrol on Monday August 20th 1945.
   
Sunday September 2nd 1945  
Japan surrendered unconditionally on Sunday September 2nd 1945.
   
Tuesday September 25th 1945  
Following the appointment in August 1945 of a de-commissioning officer, the Vicarage Road United States' Army Camp at Saint Budeaux was de-commissioned on Tuesday September 25th 1945.  It was probably on that date the remainder of the United States Naval Advanced Amphibious Base was closed.
   
Monday October 1st 1945  
On Monday October 1st 1945 the Great Western Railway Company re-started the Royal Mail Postal special trains from London Paddington to Plymouth and Penzance.  It had ceased running in September 1940.  The inaugural train was headed by 6019 "King Henry V" and the Guard was a Plymouth man, Mr B J Yate, who lived at Long Rowden, Peverell.
   
Sunday December 16th 1945  
On Sunday December 16th 1945 as young children of the congregation were placing dolls, toys and books beneath the Christmas Tree that had been put up in the tower, the bells were ringing out above them for the first time since June 1940.
   

A view of Plymouth City Centre after the rubble of the Blitz had been cleared away.  The bus is stopped in what was Bedford Street.

A view of Plymouth City Centre
after the rubble of the Blitz had been cleared away.
 The bus is stopped in what was Bedford Street.

POST 1945 

July 21st 1946  
Bread rationing was introduced on July 21st 1946, which created an outrage as the reason behind it was to help starving Germans.
   
Christmas 1946  
Although the Minister of Food, Mr John Strachey, had promised that iced Christmas cakes would be available for Christmas 1946, he omitted to make any allocation of two essential ingredients, fruit and fat, so the Plymouth bakers decided that he had to ban the making of iced cakes.  As mincemeat was also being rationed, to just sevens pounds for every 100 pounds of jam, the manufacture of mince pies in the City would be greatly reduced.
   
1947  
There was a fuel crisis in 1947 which brought about rationing.
   
Saturday August 30th 1947  
On Saturday August 30th 1947 it was once again possible to treat your girlfriend to some chocolates during picture shows at Gaumont cinemas.  They had been withdrawn in 1943.
   
March 1948  
Clothes were the first to be de-rationed, in March 1948.  
   
Friday May 7th 1948  
The last German prisoners of war left the camp at Chaddlewood, Plympton, on Friday May 7th 1948, bound for a repatriation camp in Suffolk.  
   
July 1948  
Bread was de-rationed in July 1948.  
   
December 1948  
Jam was de-rationed in December 1948.  
   
January 1st 1949  
The National Service Act 1948 became effective on January 1st 1949 and fixed the period of military service to eighteen months.  This was followed by four years in the reserve forces.  The Korean War of 1950 led to an increase in the period of service to two years but the time in the reserves was reduced by six months.
   
May 1950  
Petrol was de-rationed in May 1950, when a low-octane unbranded fuel became available.  
   
October 1952  
Tea was de-rationed in October 1952. 
   
February 1953  
Sweets were de-rationed in February 1953. 
   
March 1953  
Eggs were de-rationed in March 1953. 
   
April 1953  
Cream was de-rationed in April 1953. 
   
September 1953  
Sugar was de-rationed in September 1953. 
   
1954  
One wartime measure continued: the collection of kitchen waste.  This was processed into pig food as part of the war effort and was an extremely successful municipal operation, raising a lot of money.  However, the demand for the waste began to drop off in 1954 and the Council began losing money on the operation so in 1959 they started to close it down.
   
May 1954  
Butter, cheese, margarine and other cooking fats were de-rationed in May 1954. 
   
July 2nd 1954  
Rationing formally ended on July 2nd 1954, when meat products became freely available. 
   
July 3rd 1954  
A large crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London to ceremonially tear up their ration books in celebration.  
   
August 1959  
The communal kitchen waste bins were withdrawn by August 1959.  
   
October 19th 1959  
The last collections of kitchen waste from homes and factories started on October 19th 1959.
   
December 31st 1960  
National Service came to an end on December 31st 1960.  
   
May 13th 1963  
The last National Service man, Lieutenant Richard Vaughan, was discharged from the Royal Army Pay Corps on May 13th 1963.