Plymouth bombed again

A Naval bomb disposal unit deals with an unexploded bomb during the Plymouth blitz.

Plymouth was just one of the major port cities that suffered repeat visits from the Luftwaffe during March and April. Despite attempts to lure the bombers to target fires in the open country outside the city, it was hit very badly again:

On the 29th/30th April Plymouth and Devonport were again attacked, and, although the raid was on a larger scale than any of its predecessors, it began with inaccurate, bombing in open country North of the city, where wood-fires at Mount Edgcumbe were heavily bombed. It was comparatively late in the raid before the enemy found his targets, and the attack did not therefore seem so heavy as some of its predecessors.

The raid lasted nearly four hours, and, though its effects cannot yet be fully assessed, it is clear that, after all that the city and its environs have lately been through, this raid struck a heavy blow. The main weight of attack was felt at Keyham and Milehouse, between Plymouth and Devonport.

High explosives seem to have predominated over incendiary attack, and only 20 fires were reported. Fires were started in Milehouse, at a Devonport gasholder and once again at the Tor Point oil cisterns. In addition to areas of military importance, the city’s civilian life seems again to have suffered severely, and a shopping centre at Mutley, rendered more important by the destruction done elsewhere in earlier raids, was damaged in this one. Residential districts suffered severely, the worst damage of this kind being reported from the Beacon Park and Hartley areas. The fires were all brought under control during the morning. Casualties cannot yet be accurately estimated.

Plymouth has rallied with vigour from all attacks. It is natural that after five such raids the people should be somewhat shaken, but the movement of population from the city is regarded as reasonably well in hand, and the problem is being largely solved by the provision of rail tickets for would-be evacuees, and by the evacuation of children from specified areas.

From the Home Security Report for the week.

Joyse Prowse was 14 at the time:

My mother said to me after the worst night, ‘Come on, we’ll walk to town to see what damage they’ve done,’ so we walked to the end of Ebrington Street and stood at ‘Burton’s Corner’ and saw nothing but smouldering rubble, hundreds of fireman and hoses. They said, ‘You can’t go any further.’ We didn’t intend to anyway, we just stood, Mother crying her eyes out. I’d never seen mother cry before. She was heart broken.

Read the whole story at BBC People’s War

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