Wartime Bomb Damage

Photographs of ruined buildings, c1940-43

By Paul Douch

The first two photos illustrate the extensive damage done to the old streets of Great Yarmouth in 1941, the year when German bombing raids were most intensive. 109 lives were lost that year.

8 'wrens' died when their hostel suffered a direct hit in March 1943, though 40 women did survive.

Perhaps you can identify where the last two photos were taken?

Do you or any of your relatives have stories of what it was like to live through the air raids?

Or were you an evacuee? if so, what did it feel like to return to a town where familiar haunts had been reduced to rubble?

Photo:Ruins in Middlegate Street, 8 April 1941

Ruins in Middlegate Street, 8 April 1941

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Ruined terrace in Mission Road, 18 April 1941

Ruined terrace in Mission Road, 18 April 1941

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Ruins of the WRNS quarters in Queens Road, 18 March 1943

Ruins of the WRNS quarters in Queens Road, 18 March 1943

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:More bombed buildings in Yarmouth

More bombed buildings in Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Firemen at work in the aftermath of another bombing raid

Firemen at work in the aftermath of another bombing raid

Great Yarmouth Museums

This page was added by Paul Douch on 01/07/2007.
Comments about this page

I wish someone would make a index of the streets which were bombed. My grandmother was bombed out three times and there were ten children in her family.  Luckily they all survived.

By Mrs.V.Hodson
On 26/03/2008

Item on the bombing of area in Great Yarmouth, reference the St. Nicholas Road houses next to the public house that was the Silk Mills, a Lacons property.

I had a relative who had a daughter named Dodi. The building had a direct hit with a bomb. Dodi was in the Morrison shelter but sadly her mother wasn't. But that is how it was, and I should think many of us have lost a friend or love one during those times. ps Laura again i have lost another item refer Middlegate street rebuilding eg Holmes & Ames builders article seems to have gone missing also along with Miss J Taylor skating photo? Colin

By colinbrowne
On 29/04/2008

During the war I lived at 188 Hgh Street with my mother, brother and grandmother.

One night in 1941 a raid was on so mother and I went under the bed, which was in the front room, when all of a sudden there was a roar like an express train then a huge explosion. All our windows came in,soot from the chimney poured out into the front room.

All went quiet so I went outside. Our front door had disapeared and there was a huge hole in the street. Water from the pipes was shooting up in the air and  (there was) a huge smell of gas.

It seemed that five bombs had dropped, one in the river, the second knocked down five houses at the bottom of Ice-house Hill, the third went into the back of the Seaman's Mission in the High Street opposite our house, the fourth landed in the High Street and the last one in Duke Road.

Another time I was standing at the top of Ice-House Hill when I saw a Heinkel 111k drop five bombs over the denes near the Nelson's Monument. The plane was so low I was looking at it straight ahead. I was 12 years old at the time.

One Thursday I came home from school (Alderman Leach) and I told my mother I was going to the library to change my book. While walking down High Street I heard this roar and turning saw a ME-110 (us lads recognised all these planes) and he was firing straight down the street.

I ran in one of the narrow lanes going down to the river and lay on the floor. I could hear the bullets ricochet all over the place. This narrow lane recently led down to Sommefields Store.

Another sunny day me and a pal went for a walk in the country,now the Magdelen Estate, and another Heinkel-111 came right low and the front gunner started firing at us. We dived in a ditch but they must have been firing at the cattle because when we got out of the ditch,not far from us was a dead cow.

After the raids we used to go round and get all sorts of shapnel and I got the fins of the bomb which hit the houses on Anson Road, Southtown Rd.

After we went to live in Newtown and I left all my bits of bombs at our house in Gorleston. My best friend was blown to bits when he went to see his father at the Sparrow's Nest in Lowestoft, he was called Harry Hoyle.

By Ivor Steadman
On 16/05/2008

Hello, I was a young boy (12) when I came to Great Yarmouth after the war in 1945. The children of The Netherlands who has a need to have a vacation could come in this city.

Now I want to found my famlily where I was ...

All I know is that I staid in

69 Anson Road in Great Yarmouth

And the famliy who lived there at the time was the family Glazier (Glasier) and the son that lived there his first name was Malcolm(?). He must be 76 (?) years now?

Please if you know where I can find him please contact me...


Willem Zoutewelle

By Zoutewelle The Netherlands
On 12/08/2009

That is so wierd my uncle lives on Anson Road and if I'm not mistaken accross the road from 69. Anson road in Great Yarmouth is actually situated in Southtown.

By jules murcott
On 07/09/2009

With regards to these photos, it says under the pictures Great Yarmouth Museums. How many Museums has Great Yarmouth got and in which one would I find these photos, plus any more like these depicting Great Yarmouth during WW2. With regards to an earlier question, about an index of streets bombed, would the museum have infomation like that? I get to Yarmouth about twice a year, as I have a relative in Reedham and I am writing a novel about the detective in Yarmouth, which hasn't been published yet, but while I wait, I am writing a second story with the same detective, but in this one the story has links with the bombings in Yarmouth in 1943. I am hoping to get to Yarmouth in the next month and visit the museum where these photos are shown. Thanks, Clive.

By Clive Woollands
On 12/03/2010

Some of my family are Civilian War Dead from Great Yarmouth Robert W. Rogers,Harriett Rogers,Elsie Road Gorleston, 1941. Can not find burial sites or remaining family. Found their names on a burial site but don,t know where they got the information? Contact J DeRosa,cenjoan01@yahoo.com

By Joan DeRosa
On 28/07/2010

For those looking for bomb damage details about Great Yarmouth, the National Archives in Kew hold all the wartime survey maps which detail where the bombs were reported to have fallen. The Ministry of Home Security Bomb Census Survey 1940-45 is available by going to Kew and obtaining a reader's ticket. Bomb census maps are in the file series "HO 192" and 193. This is searchable on their website. Great Yarmouth has a file, for example, at HO 192/203, though there are at least 6 sets for GY listed. The quality varies, but they can be very accurate maps.

By Catherine Flinn
On 27/08/2010

I am trying to find a photo of 1 Middlegate St which was a Tavern that my family owned in 1891 (Anderson). Living in Australia in WW11 we only had a palm tree bombed in a few Nth Queensland raids nothing like this. maybe some before and after photo's would be good so you can see what changes happened after WW11 in the differant areas.

By Kerry Hendy
On 01/10/2010

The showing of the bomb damage in Yarmouth by film at the Time and Tide ,brought back memories for in 1941 my uncle Kenny, then just 12 years old died after the bombing of Southgates Rd. I never met him as I wasn't born until 1948, but heard so much about him from my family. I have a photo of him dressed up as a little Dutch boy , one of the few things that survived the bombing of Feb 1941.  Shortly after this my grandparents moved to Walpole Rd , a house that had much love and happy memories , but I must admit that film brought tears to my eyes

By Keith Banner
On 05/01/2011

My grandparents Basil and Jesse Wells were living in Southgates Rd until Feb 41 during the first week of Feb. My Uncle Kenneth was injured (and) he died 2 days later in Yarmouth General Hospital. He was 12 years of age.

Shortly after this they moved to Walpole Rd where they lived happily until Grandads death in 1969. Grandma moved in with her daughter and son in law in Caister very close to uncle Kennys last resting place.

By Keith Banner
On 05/01/2011

My husband and I moved to Yarmouth September last year. We live at 32 Northgate Street, we understand the house was bombed and the houses either side of us also were bomed. They were rebuilt in 1947/49 We have being looking to see if there are any photos of the house before the bombing, and would be grateful if anyone has any information. Glynnis Hazlewood, 05/12/2010

By Glynnis Hazlewood
On 05/01/2011

Ref to item on Dutch school children coming to England after the war. We had some boys (being a boy's school) The Priory, staying with the school not one spoke any English. It was all sign lingo. The teacher who came with them was able to understand most words, in their last week with us some one bought the dutch teacher a smoking pipe /a pouch filled with pipe tobbacco no one owned up who bought it most of the lads thought I did but I still stand by what I said on the day (IT WAS NOT ME ). Now I wish who ever did it was a nice thing to do & they deserve the just credit, most of those boys are if still with us must know what it was like to be under Nazi occupation how lucky are we.

By colin browne
On 11/03/2011

I have had a copy of the book regarding the bombing of the town during the war years for many years and have noticed that only the raids during the nights have been reported and no day time ones. I witnessed one in 1941 from the tower at the top of the High Street, Gorleston where two of us were on fire watching duty that Sunday morning soon after the bombing of the Tramway Hotel on Lowestoft Road on the 12 th June. We watch a Junkers 88 plane approach from the West at about 2-3 1000 ft and saw the string of bombs leave the aircraft at about the Recreation Playing fields area dropping in a line towards Lowestoft Road. The last one exploded close to 20 Lowestoft Road which was where my family lived. Fortunately neither my Mother and sister were shaken but OK. I was a lad of 15 at the time and worked for Mr.Chaston Builders of Cross Road . Is there any more up-to-date information on the records regarding the bombs that were dropped over the period of the war years please? Yours sincerely, B.T.Manship

By Colin Stott (On behalf of BT Manship)
On 15/03/2011

I was born at 22 St. Mary's Lane, Southtown, next to St. Mary's Church.  The lane was bombed in April 1941 luckily none of the family were there at the time, but we were homeless and had to live with various relatives during the war years.  I can't remember the event really as I was almost 3 years old although I still have memories of actually living there.  St. Mary's Lane no longer exists I think it was demolished due to the bomb damage.  Does anyone else have memories of this?

By Janet Allen
On 03/09/2012

This posting is in response to Glynnis Hazlewood of 32 Northgate Street.  My family (mother, father plus 2 brothers and 3 sisters) moved to 34 Northgate Street in 1946 and at that time the area adjacent was a levelled bomb site housing a large NFS water-tank.  Very large beams extended deeply onto the bomb site to give our house support, a procedure very common in those times.  The need for holidays after the war was such that my mother 'took in' visitors who as far as I can remember were not dismayed by the appearance of a house threatening to fall sideways.  I remember the building of your house which, I think, was completed in 1949.  I have searched my albums but do not have a photograph of the site.  My best bet is that your house was identical to no 34.  Thinking back I believe there was never any structural damage to my house in spite of the extensive damage adjacent.  I left the house in 1953 (age 20) for National Service, get married etc.

By Brian Colclough
On 29/01/2013

I am very interested about Great Yarmouth civilians during the second world war.If anyone would be interested in joining me discovering the headstones of our sadly killed civilians I would enjoy the company.I have found a lot of the borough headstones and a few private ones but I still have lots to uncover.please get in touch if you would like to help me.

By Elizabeth Burnett
On 24/05/2013

Great and very interesting site. I was looking for any information to do with the sinking of HMS Tonbridge off Great Yarmouth in which my great uncle was killed. Is there a memorial? Were any local people affected?


By Caroline Stewart
On 20/06/2014

I have recently bought a house on Beach Road Gorleston, a passer by informed us that during the war there was a bakery where the house now stands, and that it was bombed in 1940, the baker and his wife were injured, but a lady passing by was killed can anyone give me anymore information either on the baker i.e who they were or the lady passing by.

By MRS A Thomas
On 25/11/2014

My friends live in Apsley Road Great Yarmouth and they believe their house was bombed during the 2nd world war, would like to know if this is true please if anyone could help.

By Darren Noble
On 20/11/2015

I was born in Norwich in 1942, because my parents house in Caister Road, Yarmouth had been flattened a few months earlier.   I went to Cambridge Uni and now live in Brisbane Queensland.   I did spend most of my time in Yarmouth till the age of 10 with my Grandparents who showed me what would have been my home, after it was rebuilt.  Do you have the addresses of homes destroyed ?

By Richard Hollis
On 19/11/2018

I was born on Beach road my mother and fathers name was Mr and Mrs Harris.  My father was a lifeboat man and joined the Royal Navy. We was bombed out in the early 1940s, my brother and I was upstairs under the bed we could not get downstairs the stairs as they had disappeared .  My uncle who lived nearby came and lifted us down to safety, there was soot everywhere, my budgie laid dead in the bottom of the cage but we all got out. We was moved to Southtown road where we was bombed out again I was buried in the shelter and had to be dug out( I was about 3 yrs old). We was then evacuated to Derbyshire where we then had the news that my father was lost at sea doing convoys in the North Atlantic.

By Derek Harris
On 23/11/2018

Hi, I was made aware of a comment left by Mrs.A Thomas on 25/11/2014 and I would like to let her know that the lady who was killed was my great-great grandmother Mrs. Ella Caroline Bush. She lived on Cliff Hill rd. She was 75 years old. She had just popped over to the bakery when it took a direct hit from the bomb. Thank you for your inquiry, given me a chance to look further into my families past!

By Bridgette Richardson
On 19/02/2019

My Grandmother was one of the wrens who survived the bombing of the hostel in 1943. The girl on the bunk above her was killed. She was buried in the rubble for 24 hours, but survived only having a broken wrist. For the rest of her life she was uncomfortable in enclosed spaces, and didn't like doors to be closed inside the house. 

By Luke Rockall
On 19/02/2020

Hi all 

I'm hoping RICHARD HOLLIS will read this but it was 2018 when he was last on this thread! 
I'm hoping Richard may have an uncle/grandfather called Charles Hollis? He was 34 in 1903, so I guess he was born 1869/1870?

I'm in the middle of tracing all my family history and according to the court hearing details, my grandfather had a mate by that name!! 

Also, just for interest I do have several Hatch ancestors in/from Gt Yarmouth. My Hatch bloodline arrived there in 1801 from Cambridge and had several big families through the following years... I'm tracing several but if any are reading this I would love to hear from you. 
thank you 

By Jason Hatch
On 14/10/2022

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.