Women soldiers killed in German bombing raid to be remembered

Brian Heaney returns to the spot where 26 women of the ATS died in 1943 in Great YarmouthPhoto: Bi

A previous ceremony paying tribute to the 26 ATS personnel killed in May 1943 - Credit: Archant © 2010

More than two dozen soldiers who lost their lives in a German bombing raid on Great Yarmouth are to be remembered this weekend.

The 26 female members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) were killed on May 11, 1943 after their accommodation was bombed by a Focke-Wulf 190.

Only one ATS member was pulled alive from the rubble.

One of the dead ATS signallers was from Great Yarmouth, Lillian Grimmer, 19, and who is said to have swapped duties that fateful day.

ATS wireless operators played a vital role in the war effort

ATS wireless operators played a vital role in the war effort - Credit: Imperial War Museum

On Sunday afternoon a plaque is to be unveiled and dedicated at the Imperial Hotel on North Drive by the site to where the bombing took place. 

The aftermath of the bombing raid

The aftermath of the bombing raid - Credit: London Evening News

The ceremony comes as the female veterans organisation the Women's Royal Army Corp Association launches an appeal to make sure all the ATS members from the raid are properly remembered.

The association has set up the #WeWillRememberHer campaign to ensure the names of all the signallers are etched on local memorials.

Vera Mann was one the 26 ATS personnel killed in the raid

Vera Mann was one the 26 ATS personnel killed in the raid - Credit: Supplied by Curious Public Relations Ltd

Leading the charge to make sure their sacrifice will never be forgotten is Joan Awbery, 102, from Cambridgeshire, who served in the ATS and will be attending the event.

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In 1994 she coordinated the unveiling of a plaque in Great Yarmouth by Lady Soames, Sir Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter, having traced the relatives of some of the women.

Members of the ATS played a key role in the Second World War

Members of the ATS played a key role in the Second World War - Credit: Imperial War Museum

Sadly many relatives had already died and only half the fallen have been added to their local war memorials.

Ms Awbery, said: "Given the tender age of these women when they died, we know children and grandchildren won’t be found, but the WRAC Association hopes to find great nephews, nieces, cousins and so forth, to tell them of the part their brave relative played in military history.” 

A new plaque commemorating the raid will be unveiled at a service of dedication at the Imperial Hotel at 2pm on Sunday.

The plaque naming the ATS women victims of a German bombing raid at Great Yarmouth. Picture: DENISE

The former plaque remembering the ATS personnel - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The German bombing raid on May 11, 1943 involved up to 20 Focke-Wulf planes and also claimed the lives of another 23 civilians and service personnel. The deaths of the 26 ATS personnel was the biggest loss of British female soldiers in the Second World War.

A Focke-Wulf 190. The planes bombed Great Yarmouth in May 1943

A Focke-Wulkf190. The planes bombed Great Yarmouth in May 1943 - Credit: Supplied by Curious Public Relations Ltd

The old plaque remembering the ATS personnel had been at the nearby Burlington Palm Hotel.