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Bombing of Great Yarmouth church is to be remembered with special events

PUBLISHED: 14:27 05 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:59 06 June 2017

Launch of the 75th anniversary commemorations of the bombing of Gt Yarmouth Minster.
Mayor of Yarmouth Cllr Kerry Robinson-Payne along with supporters of the event help launch the commemorations.

Launch of the 75th anniversary commemorations of the bombing of Gt Yarmouth Minster. Mayor of Yarmouth Cllr Kerry Robinson-Payne along with supporters of the event help launch the commemorations.

Archant © 2017

It was a bombing that rocked Great Yarmouth to its core and saw its landmark church gutted by German bombs.

Launch of the 75th anniversary commemorations of the bombing of Gt Yarmouth Minster.
A piece of one of the incendiary bombs which destroyed the church in 1942. Launch of the 75th anniversary commemorations of the bombing of Gt Yarmouth Minster. A piece of one of the incendiary bombs which destroyed the church in 1942.

On June 25, 1942, more than 1,500 bombs were dropped on the town, killing three people and causing widespread damage, including large-scale destruction to St Nicholas Church.

A series of events have been planned to commemorate the raid, including a 1940s fair, civic service and history display at the church now known as Great Yarmouth Minster.

Great Yarmouth Minster held a special event yesterday to promote the events in which part of one of the bombs that destroyed the church and melted coins from a collection were on display.

Attending was Nick Pownall, who was a 14-year-old Great Yarmouth Grammar School boy at the time of the raid and still vividly recalls its aftermath.

Launch of the 75th anniversary commemorations of the bombing of Gt Yarmouth Minster.
Photographs of the bombing in 1942. Launch of the 75th anniversary commemorations of the bombing of Gt Yarmouth Minster. Photographs of the bombing in 1942.

He said: “I remember seeing smouldering smoke and molten lead on the wall. Obviously something like that upset an awful lot of people.”

Like all the other townsfolk, Mr Pownall rallied in support of the church and remembers buying a brick for a pound to help with the church’s restoration.

It re-opened in 1961.

The series of commemorative events have been arranged by borough council and the Great Yarmouth Minster Trust, with some events supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

Team vicar at the minster, Rev Jemma Sander-Heys said that even though Yarmouth was “bombed to bits” its people had shown great resilience.

Kerry Robinson-Payne, the mayor of the borough, said: “The bombing of the church is worth commemorating because it reminds us all of the extent to which Yarmouth and its people were affected during the war, and the huge sacrifices made by people at home and abroad.

“The restoration of this church, which has been at the centre of our community since the 12th century, also symbolises the resilience of the Yarmouth people and their drive to rebuild their lives after the war and get back a sense of normality.

Dr Paul Davies, chairman of the Minster Preservation Trust, said he wanted to thank Lacon’s Brewery for brewing a special St Nick’s commemorative ale which will be on sale as part of the commemorations.

The profits will go towards the organ restoration fund.

List of events:

There is a 1940s fair in the market place on Sunday, June 25, from 11am to 4pm.

It will feature the Dad’s Army Thetford Platoon and a Winston Churchill impersonator and history displays.

There will be live musical performances, at 1pm and 3pm people can board a vintage 1959 Spratt’s coach at the Fishermen’s Hospital for a one-hour tour of Great Yarmouth’s wartime defences and bomb sites. Book in advance by emailing minstertrust@gmail.com

Events at Great Yarmouth Minster:

History exhibition from June 23 to July 12 from 10am to 3pm; civic service on Sunday, June 25 at 11am; Faure’s Requiem Mass on Sunday, June 25 at 7pm, a big band concert on Saturday, June 24 7.30pm; Jive Bunnies dancing on Friday, June 30 at 7.30pm and a Miss Kitty Collins 1940s concert on Saturday, July 1 at 3pm.

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