War memories and the Bradfords

When the matter of German air attacks on Exmouth during WWII is raised, Mr Sleeman and his brother are produced as being the authorities, being able to record when the sirens sounded and how long the various raids lasted etc.

When the matter of German air attacks on Exmouth during WWII is raised, Mr Sleeman and his brother are produced as being the authorities, being able to record when the sirens sounded and how long the various raids lasted etc. Strangely, the actual German airman who took part in the raids on southern England (including Exmouth) wrote a book describing their experiences. It is called Britain Tip and run 42-43 and is published under the name of L F Bover.All these were daytime raids and were only of nuisance value. They were carried out by fighters carrying 500lb bombs. They followed the south coast, machine-gunning and bombing before returning across The Channel.One German pilot, Lt Leopold Wenger, recalls that, on February 26, 1943, he machine-gunned the Exmouth gas holder, housing and a train.He said that it was a dangerous mission as the Exmouth anti-aircraft fire was so accurate!My own experience in this matter goes back well before this time to the night of May 27/28, 1941, when a solitary German bomber, possibly lost, followed the River Exe down river and out to sea. Not wishing to return home with a full load of bombs, he decided to jettison them on the town below - Exmouth.There was no siren and, without warning, the bombs fell on the disused brickworks, Woodville Road and across town. Although, in the original Journal report, it was stated that a number of bombs fell in open fields in another part of the town and did no damage.There were two fatalities - one of those who died was my 'Uncle', Percy Bradford. He and his wife, Nancy, and daughter Dorothy, lived at 20 Woodville Road. I had stayed with the Bradfords since August 1939, our families have been friends.Both Nancy and Dorothy were badly injured, but I got away with minor injuries.Up to the recent past, I revisited Exmouth in 2006 and saw the name P Bradford on the memorial in Strand Gardens. I know that he had been buried at St John's in the Wilderness, which, in 1941, was well into the countryside and a bit spooky.Visiting again in 2006, the church and the area has been transformed. I could not locate his grave.I visited the library and retrieved details of Percy Bradford's funeral, which confirmed his popularity and also listed his numerous relations.His daughter Dorothy's last married name was Rees and, if she still survives, must be in her mid-eighties. If my reminiscences revive any memories among the Bradfords, perhaps it will inspire others to recall those times.T A Marnell,84 Colts Foot Lane, Hurst Green, Oxted, Surrey.


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