The Bombing of the High Street

The Bombing of Newmarket - One Afternoon in February 1941 - The book first published August 2011

The bombing of Newmarket is etched in the minds of survivors of a tragic event in Newmarket's history.
On the afternoon of Tuesday February 18th 1941 (market day in Newmarket) a single Dornier bomber dropped a stick of 10 bombs along the length of the High St causing many deaths and injuries and substantial damage to buildings.


This picture, taken shortly after the bombing, gives an idea of the destruction caused in the High Street

After much discussion, much research and the occasional difference of opinion, the following two diagrams show which business was where at the time and which were damaged by the bombs


The events are recorded in the Society's book 'The Bombing of Newmarket' which has many personal accounts and pictures of the damage.
This is a most comprehensive publication by the Society about Newmarket during World War II. It deals specifically, and in graphic detail, with that day of infamy in the town's history.
Much written material and photographs have become available that have been compiled to produce this impressive A4 size book, edited by Sandra Easom. It contains many first hand memories and is illustrated by a wealth of pictures, many reproduced in colour.

A new edition is being worked on by the Society's Chair, Sandra Easom, but no date has yet been fixed for re-publication

There have been earlier publications by the Society dealing with the the bombing and the war. In 2000 the booklet 'One Afternoon in February' was produced, edited by the then NLHS Vice Chairman, David Occomore, but is now out of print.
In 2006 a more general account of the effect of the war on the town appeared in the book 'When Newmarket Went to War', a joint effort between David and Sandra, of which a few copies are still available (May 2020) from our Society . Contact us through our email address.

The feature below was first published on our website in March 2012 and is now included on this page as a permanent item. As a result of our website feature an article appeared in The Newmarket Journal and was picked up by a national newspaper. James May (of BBC Top Gear fame) visited the town in 2015 and was able to drive the Austin which had been transported here for a photo shoot for a programme due to be broadcast on BBC TV early in 2016.

Two Great Survivors, a tribute to a remarkable lady and her car.
Picture and story below.

This picture shows the 1937 Austin Ruby saloon, the lady in the driver's seat is Mrs Alice Day,the original owner, then 98 years of age.
Both were very lucky to escape with less than fatal injuries when Newmarket was bombed on 18th February 1941.

Alice Sturgess, as she was then, was working as a hairdresser in the family business situated on the top floor of Eaton House in the High Street. Five people died in the building destroyed by a direct hit but by a chance of fate Alice's life was spared.
Her car, the Austin Ruby, was parked outside and was damaged by falling masonry and also had a bullet hole through the scuttle.
Alice's dramatic story of her escape is told on pages 49/50 of the Newmarket Local History Society's book 'The Bombing of Newmarket'.
The car was stored for many years but has recently been made roadworthy and passed its first MOT in February 2012. It is now in use by Alice's daughter Jennie who has taken her mother for a ride in it.
Note for car enthusiasts, the car was supplied new in 1937 by Turner & Hore Newmarket and has their plate inside the passenger door

We are indebted to Austin 7 enthusiast Mr Gerald Walker who brought the car back to life and supplied the photograph.

Footnote: Mrs Alice Day celebrated her 100th birthday on 10th September 2014. Her death occurred on 12th January 2015.

Tony, thanks to his work on the war memorial and the civilian victims, has had several meetings with the daughter of Gertie Hutchinson who was killed in Sturgess' whilst having her hair done. As soon as he saw the photo of Alice and the car in the Journal he quickly arranged, with Alison from the Journal, a meeting of Alice and Dianne. Quite a traumatic meeting I heard and the request at that time was not to involve the media any more
Until Tony spoke with Dianne she had no idea she still had living relatives or any idea of that time of her life, being brought up by friends of the family and often thought of by their surname. Of course Alice, as a hairdresser, probably knew far more about Dianne's mother than most people still living

Civilian Casualties

BARKER, Miss Ada Lily
Born on 29th October 1918, youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs George William and Sarah Elizabeth BARKER (née BEADLE) of Hall Farm Cottages, Stetchworth. In the 1939 register Ada was a housemaid at Freemason Lodge, Bury Road, Newmarket (Capt.Cecil BOYD-ROCHFORD). Ada died at Eaton House, High Street, Newmarket and is buried in Stetchworth cemetery,on the right just inside the gate.

BARNES, Allan Francis
Born on 20th December 1921, son of Owen Gilbert and Hilda Louisa BARNES, of 48 Lowther Street, Newmarket. In the 1939 register Allan was a telegraph messenger, living with his parents at 40 Lowther Street. Father [8-2-1879] was a postman, mother [20-4-1887], brother Gordon [1920] and sister Noreen Ida [5-8-1926], later Mrs ROBERTSON. Allan was a sorting clerk/telegraphist at the Post Office and also a member of "C" Coy (P.O.) Battalion, Home Guard. He was injured at work at the Post Office and died later at Newmarket White Lodge Emergency Hospital and is buried n Newmarket cemetery New ground M:786

CHAPMAN, Mr Henry
Born in 1865 in Ashley on 19th January 1865 (Newmarket Q1-1865 3B:565), son of the late John and Emma CHAPMAN (née BAILEY). He was a gardener of Algiers Cottages, Dullingham. Husband of the late Eliza Louisa CHAPMAN (née BOWERS). In the 1939 register he seems to be a widowed jobbing gardener, at 38 Rasper Road, Finchley with his son Maurice D., a motor mechanic, and daughter in law Mabel. Henry was injured in the High Street, Newmarket and died the same day at White Lodge Emergency Hospital, Exning Road, Newmarket and is buried in Newmarket cemetery NG K:186.

COLE, Mrs Winifred May
Born 8th September 1901, daughter of the Mr & Mrs W Burling of 7 Newmarket Road, Cheveley. She married 8th August 1928 to Alfred William COLE, of Hurricana, Newmarket Road, Cheveley. Their son John William was born in 1931. In the 1939 register she was at Hurricana, Newmarket Road, Cheveley with husband, a coal lorry driver. She was injured by shrapnel in "The Star" yard in the High Street, Newmarket during the bombing raid on 18th February 1941 and died the next day at Newmarket White Lodge Emergency Hospital and is buried in an unmarked grave n St Mary's graveyard, Cheveley.

DOIG, Mr William Harvey
Born 17th May 1902 at 66 Eveleyn Street, Glasgow to journeyman shoemaker William and Marion DOIG (née PARK). In the 1939 register, he was a head waiter, living at 5 Lisburn Road with his wife Margaret, with Claud RANSOME, a railway signalman, and his wife Rosina. At the time of his death he lived at Crawley Mount, Centre Drive, Newmarket and died at the Marlborough Club, Newmarket. There are still unanswered questions in this case, why he is buried in Southend ? and his wife not positively identified. He is apparently buried in Southend on Sea Sutton Road cemetery grave E:4190.

FULLER, Mr Leslie Arthur
Born on 1st March 1909 in Exning (Newmarket Q2-1909 3B:473), son of Herbert Thomas and Sarah Elizabeth FULLER (née COLLEN). Lived at Elm Cottage, Exning Road, Newmarket, husband of Janet Mildred FULLER in the 1939 register. Died at the White Hart, High Street, Newmarket, where he was working as a joiner, employed by A.Clarke and is buried in Exning Old Cemetery, Ref: W 115.

GALE, Mr William Jefford
Born on 10th November 1892, in Plumstead (Woolwich Q4-1892 1D:1246) son of Walter John and Eleanor GALE (née WILLIAMS). In the 1939 register, a head lad in stables, he was living at The Gem, Tobacconists Shop, Exning Road, (2 down from the Exning Road Working Mens Club. With him were his wife Ethel and daughters Constance E and Margaret E. There are 2 closed records. Injured in the High Street, Newmarket, he died the next day in White Lodge Emergency Hospital, Exning Road, Newmarket. No-one now can tell us why he was known as "Sloper" Gale. he is buried in Newmarket cemetery NG L:2.

GROVES, Mr George Jasper
Born in Nottingham on 19th October 1868 son of George T and Emma GROVES (née SAYWELL). In the 1938 register he was staying at the Bull Hotel, High Street, Newmarket. His wife, Florence, was at 9 Tangier Road, Richmond. George was a sports journalist for the Sporting Chronicle and it was in their office in Newmarket that he was killed. He died in Eaton House, High Street, Newmarket, and is buried in East Sheen cemetery Ref: 134.

HARDING, Mr Laban Diver
Born on 17th February 1873 in Reach, son of Francis and Jane HARDING (née DIVER). In the 1939 register, a widower, a general labourer, he was at Rowley Mile Stand Cottage with daughter Annie Irene and son Alec, a bricklayer. Laban died in Eaton House, High Street, Newmarket. No-one seems to know what he was doing in that building, perhaps buying cigarettes at Galloway's. He is buried in Newmarket cemetery, New Ground K:275.

HOLLOWAY, Master Peter James
Born 18th November 1940, son of Edward Herbert and Mary Ruth HOLLOWAY (née WYTHES) of Banstead Cottages, Kirtling. It is not certain whether he was killed in Eaton House, High Street, Newmarket, his Mother having her hair done, or next door in Gilbert's ironmongers. 6 others died in this building during the bombing raid, but Peter's Mother survived. Peter is buried in St Margaret's Churchyard in Cowlinge, with church to left, cross church yard to far side, under tree by fence.

HUMPHREYS,Mrs Margery
Born on 22nd May 1889 in Liverpool (West Derby Q2-1889 8B:558), seemingly the daughter of Henry Carey and Kate LEE (née WILLIAMS). In the 1939 register Margery was at "Aislabie", Mill Road, Stetchworth with her husband, school teacher Frederick HUMPHRIES [13-5-1885] with Frederick Harrison, a retired bloodstock breeder and his wife Kathleen. A note says Margery was an "L.C.C. helper". Mr. Humphries had recently come to Stetchworth with some evacuee children from his East London school and his wife had joined him to be "safer" away from London. They later moved into the School House. She was injured in the High Street and died later that day at White Lodge Emergency Hospital, Exning Road, Newmarket. An old pupil of the school reported that Margery was cremated in Cambridge and her ashes scattered there.

HUTCHINSON, Mrs Gertrude
Gertie was born in Freckenham in 15th February 1899 (Mildenhall Q1-1899 4A:885), daughter of Samuel and Sarah Ann RAYNER (née PLUMMER). In the 1939 register she was at Fairfax House, Mildenhall with her husband William, a solicitor's managing clerk (Bendall's). She died at Sturgess, Hairdressers, Eaton House, High Street, Newmarket, it was her first visit to this hairdressers since the birth a few months earlier of her daughter Dianne. She is buried in Mildenhall Kingsway cemetery which is now a "natural environment zone".

JENNINGS, Mr Richard Frederick
Born 1867 (Newmarket Q2-1867 3B:543) son of John and Ann Beeche JENNINGS (née BAXTER). At the time of his death he was a commission agent, living at Glen Villa, Nat Flatman Street, Newmarket. Richard died at the Marlborough Club, High Street, Newmarket and is buried in Newmarket cemetery Old Ground BB6.

KERRY, Miss Queenie
Born on 22nd March 1899 in Newmarket (Newmarket Q2-1899 3B:528), daughter of George William and Anna Maria KERRY (née PARKER). In the 1939 register, Queenie, a post office worker, was at "Stanfield", Snailwell Road with her sisters Mabel (incapacitated) and Anna. Queenie was killed at work as a sorting clerk/telegraphist in the Post Office, High Street, Newmarket and is buried in Newmarket cemetery, Old Ground CC:6.

LAMBERT, Miss Viola Alice
Viola Alice LAMBERT was born on 14th November 1889 in Yorkshire, near Doncaster (Thorne Q1-1890 9C:756), daughter of William Lister and Mary Jane LAMBERT (née ROSS). She was Assistant Matron at White Lodge Emergency Hospital in the 1939 register, and was killed at Sturgess, Hairdressers, Eaton House, High Street, Newmarket and buried in Newmarket cemetery, New Ground N:220.

LITTLE, Mr James
Not much has been found about this victim. He does not appear to have been a Newmarket native, his earliest Newmarket appearance can be linked to his wife in the 1939 Register. It seems he may have married Minnie Eslick CLAYTON in Wandsworth in 1937. The sole occupant of Red House Albion Street, Newmarket in the 1939 register was a married woman, Minnie E LITTLE. Neither are found in the 1936 Newmarket Directory. He is recorded as living at Red House, Albion Street, Newmarket, the burial register has him as a jockey. He was injured in the bombing of the High Street on 18th February 1941 and died later at White Lodge Emergency Hospital, Exning Road, Newmarket and is buried in Newmarket cemetery New Ground K:187.

PECK,Miss Nina Mary
Nina was born on 8th October 1903 (Newmarket Q4-1903 3B:448) daughter of George Herbert and Annie Harriet PECK (née CASTLE. In the 1939 register, a VAD member, she was at Phoenix House, High Street, Newmarket with her father George Herbert PECK, a master plumber and painter/A.R.,P. warden and her mother Annie Harriet. Nina PECK, B.R.C.S. (British Red Cross Society), member Voluntary Aid Detachment. She lived at Phoenix House, High Street, Newmarket with her parents and was killed there, and buried in Newmarket cemetery New Ground L:8-1926

STRINGER, Mr Walter
He was born on 17th September 1886, in Sydenham, Kent (Lewisham Q4-1886 1D:1159) son of John and Alice STRINGER (née SMITH). In the 1939 register he was widower, a painter, and his address was 35 Devonshire Road, Forest Hill, Lewisham, London where he lived with his son Walter J. STRINGER, a motor driver. Walter was injured in the bombing of 18th February 1941 at the "White Hart" and taken to White Lodge Emergency Hospital where he died on 26th February 1941. There is no information as to the reason for Walter being in Newmarket, or whether he was staying here or merely passing through. The burial register has his occupation as decorator. He is buried in Lewisham (Hither Green) Cemetery grave AA/con/259.

WATERS, Mrs Louisa
Louisa CARLTON was born on 13th October 1877 in Stetchworth (Newmarket Q4-1877 3B:546 ) daughter of Robert and Sarah CARLTON (née ROSE). In the 1939 register she was at the Marlborough Club, Market Street, Newmarket with her husband Thomas W Waters. They were stewards at the Club. Louisa was killed at the Marlborough Club, High Street, Newmarket and is buried in Newmarket cemetery, New Ground K:269.

WHELAN, Mr William Alfred
William Alfred Whelan was born on 25th January 1924 (Newmarket Q1-1924 3B:708) son of William and Elizabeth WHELAN (née COOPER). In the 1939 register William, a cinema operator, was at 12 Laureate Terrace, Exning Road with his parents, father William F , assistant head lad in stables, and mother Elizabeth. He was a part time cinema operator and was killed at work at Hepworth's (tailors), High Street, Newmarket, and is buried in Newmarket cemetery New Ground K:227.

Many more people (over 200) were injured during the raid but subsequently recovered. Details of any injured military personnel were not made available because of the information restrictions at the time, but there seems to be a possible 7 deaths not recorded here as some reports give 27 as the total deaths.


The cover of the book, taken from a painting by NLHS member Eddie Clark

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