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

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

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

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