Bombs on Crown Terrace

Bombs on Crown Terrace

The last fatal bombing raid on Richmond occurred on 16 April 1941.

Marie Lawrence and her family sheltered in the Anderson shelter in their garden. She wrote in her diary: “There was a continuous roar overhead all night and at 10.45pm we heard a terrible roar. I thought it was a train coming along the line and then I realised that it was a bomb and I said ‘ears’ and we ducked. The roaring went on for seconds, then there was a tremendous crash, bump and bang all at once and the lamp blew out and smashed.”

Fortunately, they were safe, but next morning she found that the back windows and the glasshouse glass had been blown out. “Oh, what a mess it looks terrible,” she wrote. The Richmond Herald later summarised the evening’s activities: “Two bombs fell in Crown Terrace. Among the victims was a woman who was taking coffee to her husband on fire-watching duty and a woman in a passing motor car who was hit with a fragment of cement…the second bomb fell at the junction of Sheen Vale and the Bricklayers Arms and a man and a woman in a passing motor car were among those injured, the woman fatally. The car was lifted from the road to the pavement by the force of the explosion.”

Mr and Mrs Thomas Sargent and their 10-year-old daughter June, who were in their Anderson shelter at 34 Crown Terrace, were killed by a direct hit. Mrs Hyde and her baby who usually shared the shelter were away. Mr Sargent had been on duty as a firewatcher and had returned home to see how his wife was getting on. Their house and the adjoining one were almost completely demolished, the roof and upper floor sloping down sharply, but a piano and other furniture on the ground floor could still be seen undamaged. Out of one house Mrs Ayling and her three children, two girls and a boy, emerged only slightly injured. Mrs Ayling had her leg and her head cut. They had been sheltering under the stairs. Mr Ayling was also away fire watching. Their Anderson shelter, with its bunks, was flattened by the direct hit.

Marie wrote that: “The crater they say is a tremendously big one. Houses in Crown Terrace and Victoria Villas are down. The second bomb fell outside the Bricklayers Arms which has broken two water mains. The places look terrible.”

And then there was silence. For three years there were just a few nuisance raids on Richmond or the neighbouring areas. This would change with the V1 and V2 rockets.

This article, by Simon Fowler, originally appeared in the Twickenham and Richmond Tribune on 9 April 2021. You can read more about Richmond and the Second World War in Simon Fowler’s book Richmond at War 1939-1945, available from Richmond Park’s information centre just outside Pembroke Lodge, the Kew Bookshop, the Open Book at King Street in Richmond, Parade’s End Books in Ham and our own online bookshop.