Pensioner revisits scene of bombing in Cromer which left 11 dead

Peter Dugdale and his daughter Jenny at Cromer Museum. Picture: Poppyland Publishing

Peter Dugdale and his daughter Jenny at Cromer Museum. Picture: Poppyland Publishing - Credit: H.H.Tansley

It was an emotional week as Peter Dugdale visited his birthplace of Cromer, accompanied by his daughter Jenny.

A view of the devastation from the back of the Davies's and Dugdale's homes. Picture: H.H.Tansley

A view of the devastation from the back of the Davies's and Dugdale's homes. Picture: H.H.Tansley - Credit: H.H.Tansley

It is 75 years on from the night of July 22 when, in 1942, the pensioner, then aged 14, was rescued from a bomb crater in Garden Street.

An enemy bomber had dropped a stick of bombs across the town - two of them narrowly missing either end of the church.

The first of the stick of bombs hit the houses next to that where it was reported Sid Cooke and his wife lived. They escaped with their lives, saved by a blast wall that had been built.

William 'Pimpo' Davies, a hero of the Sepoy lifeboat rescue a few years earlier, was killed with all his family.

Sid Cook's house in Garden Street after the raid, with the EDP sign indicating this was the place t

Sid Cook's house in Garden Street after the raid, with the EDP sign indicating this was the place to bring your local stories. Picture: H.H.Tansley - Credit: H.H.Tansley


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Others were helped alive from the pork butchers on the other side; Peter was later told he was probably saved by the blast sucking him out of the window but his brother sleeping on the other side of the room was not so fortunate, as the building collapsed. His father also escaped from the wreck but his mother did not survive.

Peter, now 89, recalled: 'We were all asleep at the time of the raid; as with many others we had stopped making our way to our shelter at night. I knew nothing of the attack until I was lifted from the bomb crater. I spent a while in hospital before learning more of the events of the night.'

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At the Museum Mardle, Peter was able to meet up with others who recalled life in the town before the war, the names of teachers and friends at school, shops and enjoyments of the era.

He met his wife after the war when working at Mundesley Sanatorium and they eventually made their life together in Peter's present home of Bristol.

Cromer and Sheringham both suffered badly from bombing, usually from individual aircraft probably 'dumping' their bombs after abortive raids on Midland towns.

The same night, a second bomb fell on the Kursaal amusement arcade, the next destroyed Rounce and Wortley's - the corner where the Santander bank now operates - and the fourth landed outside Jarrold's and bounced across the road, destroying Tom Clarke's shop that then stood on the garden in front of Cromer Museum.

The names of all 11 who died in the raid are remembered each year in the town's annual Remembrance Service.

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