Second World War - Lynsted Memorial Project
Elsie May CASTLE (of Teynham)
At the time of the 1939 Register Elsie was living at 200 Windmill Road, Gillingham, along with her husband William, who was a ships plumber at Chatham Dockyard. They had married in 1937 and Elsie had given birth to a boy, Peter, in July 1939. Elsie and Peter were injured in the bombing of 6 Sandown Cottages, London Road, Teynham, the home of her parents William and Alice Barrett. That night, Elsie died of her injuries in Preston Hall Emergency Hospital, Aylesford.
|Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 14th September 1940|
South-East Coast Town Bombed
The raider came without warning and the population was naturally taken by surprise, the first intimation to most people being the whine of the falling bombs and the explosions. The bombing was patently wanton, because the German plane was so low that the black crosses could be seen on the wings. The pilot must have known that the bombs would drop on a residential area. This, of course, is typical of the latest phase of the Nazi air attacks, which are calculated, but completely fail, to spread terror among the civilian population. This particular visit had the opposite effect. It merely made people furiously angry and, if anything, stiffened the morale.
The first bombs fell in one street which had been bombed on a previous occasion, but they dropped at the other end of the road, completely demolishing two houses, and partially wrecking and severely damaging a good many more properties. From the wreckage of the two houses, A.R.P. workers removed the bodies of a woman and a boy and, later, of another woman. Other people were injured in the vicinity and quickly received treatment.
One of the women who was killed had returned from London to get away from the air raids. She was visiting her mother-in-law.
A large number of windows in the area were shattered, doors were blown off and ceilings collapsed. Two women and a girl who were in the bedroom of a house immediately opposite those which were hit, had remarkable escapes when the room collapsed about them and broken glass flew past them. One found that her hat had been blown from her head to the bottom of the stairs.
The best tribute to the civil defence workers, who once more proved their mettle, was from one of these women. She said: "As I came out of where the front door had been, I was amazed to see the A.R.P. people already at work getting people out of the houses opposite. It seemed impossible that they could have got there in so short a time. I think they were perfectly splendid."
In truth, men and women workers toiled at top speed in the rescue work and they deserve a tribute of appreciation.
Another bomb fell in a garden and the next in the next road, where two bungalows were shattered, a laundry and an electricity company's store wrecked, and another bungalow badly damaged. Here, fortunately, there were no serious casualties. One boy, who was believed to have been injured, returned to salvage his wireless set. Although a bomb cratered the road outside a hall, not one window was broken!
A man walking in the street was struck on the head by falling electric cables. His bowler hat saved him and he received only a cut.
A child who had been out to tea was in a bedroom with her hostess and mother when the place fell about their ears. When they had recovered from the shock the little girl naively remarked: "Oh, mummy! Wasn't it a good job we had our tea first."
The plane went on to a neighbouring town and dropped more bombs, including one incendiary on a train, without, however, doing much damage. The raider was, we understand, shot down on its way home, a fact which will afford much satisfaction to those whose homes were ruined.
The greatest sympathy has been extended to the families of those who lost their lives.
The same evening a lone raider, which was flying very low, and was seen clearly by many people, dropped a bomb on a row of cottages in a Kent town. Falling between a passage way it destroyed one cottage, took the roof off the next and damaged another. Six adults and a baby were seriously injured. Three of the adults were pinned beneath the wreckage and had to be extricated by the Rescue Squad. Two of them, Mrs Banfield and Mrs Castle, passed away during the night in the hospital to which they had been removed.
Two other bombs fell in fields not far away.
RAIDERS SHOT DOWN.
In the same fighting another German plane was seen to crash in the distance.
Some of the fiercest air fighting of he war was seen over the same area during the big raids of Saturday evening. As the result of this phase of the battle, three Nazi bombers were seen to crash, one falling to the west, another on farm land and the third near an inland village. The crews were seen to bale out.
The Nazis are finding to their cost that they cannot break down our powers of resistance by bombing military targets, and the real spirit of the Hun is being shown. They are now concentrating on endeavouring to create panic among the civilian population by unloading their bombs on residential districts in which there are no military objectives at all. It is a sign of desperation on Hitler's part. But his policy of frightfulness will not gain his ends; it is having just the reverse effect. The determination of the people to resist this human monster is accentuated by these savage attacks on defenceless men and women. His day is drawing nigh when he will be called to account.
Saturday night saw the fiercest onslaught on the poorer districts of London and although some military objects were hit many of the bombs fell on buildings of the working class. This is Goering's conception of war – blind savage attacks. It meant heavy sacrifice for the enemy for over one hundred planes were brought down. Three of our pilots of thirteen planes which came down were saved.
The indiscriminate bombing of London was resumed on Sunday and Monday, but again the enemy lost many fighters and bombers.
The casualties for Saturday were given as 306 killed and 1,397 seriously injured. The death-roll for Sunday was not nearly so high.
A town in Kent suffered considerable damage to property on Monday afternoon when German planes apparently jettisoned bombs owing to their being chased by Spitfires. It is estimated that at least 48 bombs were dropped and several people, including three civil defence workers, a grave digger, and three workmen employed by builders were fatally injured. Others suffered injuries – some serious but most of a minor character.
The enemy bombers were seen coming towards the town with the Spitfires closing in. Suddenly the bombs began to fall, and very few areas in the town escaped some damage. Many people had remarkable escapes. A bomb fell between two cottages, the occupants of which had rushed into the scullery of one of the houses. The scullery was the only part of the houses to escape serious damage and the people taking shelter there were unhurt.
A man and his wife were about to get under the table in a downstairs room when the houses had a direct hit. Both occupants were injured, and the husband died after being taken to hospital.
Three workmen were sheltering against a wall in a builder's yard when a bomb dropped a few yards away. Iron and other material were thrown in all directions and the three men were killed.
Blast did considerable damage to a building used as a Court and nearly all the windows in the front were smashed.
Property near a church was destroyed, and while the occupants of a bakery were sheltering in a front room, a bomb dropped in the rear of the premises and destroyed the bakery.
Several houses in one street were wrecked. In another part of the town, a bomb caused a huge crater behind a grocer's shop.
The occupier of an adjoining house found the crater where his shed had stood a few moments before. A man who was sheltering behind a gravestone in a cemetery was struck and died from his injuries.
While having tea in the front room of their hose of man and daughter saw the enemy planes coming towards them. The next moment a bomb landed in the front garden and when they next looked up the front of their house had fallen and their room was open to the street. Neither the father nor his daughter was hurt.
In another house the only casualty was a dog, which was hit by a splinter. The occupants had wisely gone down to the basement.
In making a tour of the damaged town, the most amazing feature is the miraculous escapes of people indoors. They had told how they dived under tables and beds, got into cupboards under the stairs, lay down on the floors, and sought whatever protection they could. By taking these measures, they avoided becoming casualties.
Another feature is the wonderful calmness of the people. Their spirit remains undaunted by these terror raids, and if Hitler and Goering could hear some of the remarks they would appreciate how high is the morale of the people in this island fortress.
No matter in what part of Kent one may be one hears nothing but praise for the efficiency of the civil defence services. The value of the thorough training of the personnel has been proved again and again, and there are many examples of bravery which are deserving of the highest awards. But the men and women do not seek these. They are out to be of service, and this they are giving unstintingly.
During Monday evening Dover area was shelled by guns from the French coast. Later the R.A.F. attacked the gun emplacements and the concussion of the bombs falling on the gun positions shook the ground on the English side of the Channel. The enemy's gunfire was returned.