Rare photographs of bombed-out pubs on show at Norwich WW2 talk

Rare photographs of bombed-out pubs and streets from the Norwich blitz will be on show during a talk at the Norfolk Record Office tomorrow.

Historian Frank Meeres will be conducting the talk 'Assault Upon Norwich: the air raids of the Second World War' in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the Baedeker raids over the city in April 1942.

The free event will feature sound, written and photographic archives and will include some never-before-seen photographs from the time.

The record office also houses an incendiary bomb that fell on the city during one of the raids, which will be on show during the event.

The talk is being held as part of the March to June Lunchtime Talks series at the record office.


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Mr Meeres, pictured below, became a senior archivist at the record office in 1986 and is well-known for the many exhibitions he has organised and for his talks and evening classes on the history of Norwich.

He said: 'The talk will include sound archives with people talking about their experiences of the raids in Norwich. There will be many photographs of the destruction caused including some of the pubs in Norwich that were either damaged or destroyed. There is also the famous photograph of the girls who were killed after finishing their shifts at the Colman's factory.

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'We will also be inviting people to contribute towards our archives with their memories of the war.'

Norwich was targeted by German bombers in 1940 and 1941 but the worst devastation was caused on April 27 and 29, 1942, in the so-called Baedeker raids, named after the tourist guide to Britain.

The raids changed the face of Norwich forever bringing chaos and destruction.

Between 25 and 30 planes were over the city on April 27, 1942, and in a short space of time, the orange glow of great fires could be seen across the fields and villages surrounding Norwich. Rows of houses were destroyed, factories were burning, as for over two hours the Luftwaffe pounded Norwich dropping 185 heavy bombs weighing over 50 tons.

Afterwards, mountains of rubble had to be dug and shifted. Official records say 162 people had been killed and nearly 600 others badly hurt – many with appalling injuries. Hundreds more were homeless and even the mortuary had been put out of action. Few people had running water as the mains had been smashed.

By some miracle all the landmarks survived – the cathedral, the castle, St Peter Mancroft and the new City Hall.

But the people had little time to regain their senses. Smoke was still coming from the rubble when the bombers returned. At almost the same time on Wednesday night, April 29, 1942, the bombers were back. This attack resulted in, according to official figures, 69 deaths and nearly 90 badly-injured.

About 112 high explosive bombs with a higher number of incendiaries weighing about 45 tons dropped across the city, flattening huge areas. Eye-witnesses said the second attack – although 45 minutes shorter, and claiming fewer lives – was more spectacular and devastating than the first one.

The talk will be held at 1pm in the Green Room, Norfolk Record Office, next to County Hall, Martineau Lane, Norwich.

See Derek James' pages in the Evening News in the coming weeks for more stories about Norwich in the blitz.

Have you got memories of the Blitz? Call Derek James on 01603 772420.

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