Honours for 26 women killed in Great Yarmouth Second World War bombing
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Tributes were paid to more than two dozen women who were killed in Great Yarmouth while they proudly served King and country.
A new plaque in honour of the 26 fallen heroes was unveiled at the Imperial Hotel on Sunday.
On May 11, 1943, female members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) were killed following a bombing on their accommodation at the former Whitfield House, which was beside the present day Imperial Hotel.
Only one living ATS member was pulled from the rubble in what was the biggest loss of female Army personnel in British history.
One of the dead ATS signallers was 19-year-old Lilian Grimmer from Great Yarmouth. She is said to have swapped duties that fateful day.
The female veterans charity, Women’s Royal Army Corps Association (WRAC Association), hosted the plaque unveiling which was attended by the deputy lord-lieutenant of Norfolk, the high steward of Great Yarmouth and Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor.
Henry Cator, high steward of Great Yarmouth, said: "It's incredibly important we remember our history as it informs the present.
"The fact we are remembering today people who had fought in the war who, up until today, have not been recognised, it is fantastic that we are able to do this."
Also in attendance were two centenarian veterans, Lorna Lansdowne and Joan Awberry.
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Mrs Lansdowne, 100 and from Sprowston, spent three years as a private with the ATS. She said one of the hardest things about serving was missing her mother and family as she could only see them twice a year.
Mrs Lansdowne added: "It means everything to be here today. It's been an enjoyable day, even if it was a bit cold."
It took almost 50 years before recognition arrived for these women, thanks to Second World War veteran Joan Awberry.
She did the honours of unveiling the new plaque and during the ceremony, Mrs Awberry was described as the "driving force" behind much of the WRAC Association's fundraisers and memorial services for over 50 years.
Fiona Gardner, retired brigadier, and vice president and chair of trustees at WRAC, said: “These women not only served their country during conflict, they also helped carve out new roles for women in wider society as a whole. They should thus appropriately be honoured."