It was all a bit of an adventure for two schoolboys living in Sea Palling at the time of the great flood in January 1953.

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Only in later life did David Salmon and Sidney Laws come to realise the true horror of a night which claimed seven fellow villagers’ lives.

But Mr Salmon, then 14, will always be haunted by the memory of a rescuer carrying the dead body of Doris Fox to an ambulance.

Until then it had been an ordinary Saturday for Mr Salmon, whose home was on Beach Road.

He remembers travelling by coach to play football at Bacton. “As we were going through Walcott at about 2pm a huge wave came over and hit the coach – bang. I remember the driver saying: ‘I’m not coming back this way’”.

When he returned home late that night he was met by a scene of devastation.

“The sea was half way up Beach Road. I put my boots on but the water came over them. There was a lot of noise and people running about.

“I saw the fireman carrying her [Doris Fox]. I remember her face clearly. I felt helpless,” he said.

Three residents of cottages between the seafront and the Fox/Wilmott family were also swept to their deaths as their homes were washed away.

Meanwhile in Waxham Road, Mr Laws, then aged 10, was sleeping, blissfully ignorant of the nightmare scenes just half a mile away.

He remembers looking out of his front windows the next morning: “The old coastguard lookout was gone,” he said. A visit to Beach Road revealed more mayhem, with furniture strewn over the fields, together with the contents of Mr HE Holmes’ shop. He added; “There were tins of sweets and Oxos everywhere.”

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