70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Reading
A plaque commemorating the people killed when a lone German WW2 plane dropped four bombs in Reading town centre is to be unveiled at a special ceremony next month.
The simple stone plaque will mark the 70th anniversary of the attack which happened on Wednesday February 10th 1943, killing 41 people and injuring 150 others. The devastation could have been a lot worse had it not been for the fact it was half day closing and many shops were empty. Many of those killed had been in The People’s Pantry, a restaurant just opposite the Town Hall
Tilehurst British Legion member Brian Lewendon, who was nine when the bombings happened, launched a petition last year asking the council to arrange for a plaque to be erected; and his campaign secured all party support from councillors.
Before the unveiling ceremony on Sunday 10 February, there will be a short service in the Town Hall, led by Rev Canon Brian Shenton, before the unveiling of the plaque takes place. All are welcome to attend.
Council Leader, Cllr Jo Lovelock, said: “I’m very pleased we are able to have this permanent reminder of the people who lost their lives and I’m sure their families appreciate this lasting mark of respect. There must be many local people who remember that dreadful day and we welcome them, and their families, to come and join us for the service and unveiling,
I would like to thank funeral directors & Monumental Masons A B Walker & Son Ltd who have generously donated the memorial plaque and Blandy & Blandy LLP who have given permission for the plaque to be erected on their building on Town Hall Square (No 1 Friar Street). ”
The service at the Town Hall starts at 2pm and there will be light refreshments after the unveiling.
Reading Museum, next to the Town Hall, is staging an exhibition about the bombing raid featuring objects like a marble finger tip which belonged to the Queen Victoria statue in Town Hall Square which was found among the wreckage of the raid. As the bomber made his escape his machine gun opened fire over Caversham and a bullet retrieved from Caversham Primary School is also on show.
The exhibition is free and runs until 3 March.
Notes to editor
Photocall – Sunday 10 February
Service in Town Hall 2.00pm
Unveiling of Plaque Town Hall Square 2.45pm approx
The bombs fell in a line from the north bank of the Kennet to just outside the Town Hall.
The first bomb hit Simmonds Brewery and exploded leaving a 25ft crater near a paint store.
The second passed through the offices of the Labour Party on the south side of Minster Street before exploding in the restaurant of Welsteeds department store across the road.
Falling a few moments later the aircraft’s third bomb collapsed part of the Victorian arcade linking Broad St and Friar St before exploding in a yard outside the People’s Pantry in Friar St, one of the town’s “British Restaurants” set up as Emergency Feeding Centres and to offer cheap meals to help supplement rationed food.
The final bomb passed through the top of the People’s Pantry building and detonated a few feet from the south tower of the town hall, bringing down the front of Blandy and Blandy’s solicitors, damaging St Laurence’s Church and severely damaging the Town Hall itself, which was the control centre for Civil Defence in the town.
As the bomber flew off the crew machine gunned the town, injuring a woman in Hemdean Road, Caversham and damaging a school.