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Help fill in Yarmouth's war years

PUBLISHED: 13:59 16 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:19 30 June 2010

One of the drawings by author Kerry Hannant

One of the drawings by author Kerry Hannant

THE bomb screamed down and bounced, its five-second delay allowing it to smash through one wall and then another before it exploded.

One of eight to drop its load over the town during the daylight hours that day, the German plane flew out the way it had come - low over the waves lapping at Great Yarmouth's seafront.

THE bomb screamed down and bounced, its five-second delay allowing it to smash through one wall and then another before it exploded.

One of eight to drop its load over the town during the daylight hours that day, the German plane flew out the way it had come - low over the waves lapping at Great Yarmouth's seafront.

For one man, the story of this raid and the one that followed it four days later - the only daylight raids inflicted on Great Yarmouth in the second world war - has been a lifetime in the telling.

Though Kerry Hannant, 49, started putting together a book on the events of May 1943 eight years ago, for him it goes far further back than that: “It's almost as if I was born to write this book - it's been around me my whole life.

“I was brought up on Magdalen Estate, built for those who had lost their houses in the bombing, with the stories of the war and my parents' war experiences.

“I thought they were exaggerating, but as I grew up I realised different. Also, in most of the jobs I've had there's been some kind of building damage from the raids.”

The father of one has scoured public records and tracked the bullet holes that riddle many buildings in the area to build up a picture of what happened on the those two days.

Now he is appealing to the public to help him complete his work, to be called Bite of The Eagle, on the two days that he says form a hole in the town's history.

“I think it has been hushed up because of the psychological damage it had. It's been mentioned but they've got it all wrong.”

Mr Hannant is firstly hoping someone will be able to provide a list of names of the 13 soldiers killed in the army headquarters next to the Imperial Hotel on May 11, 1943.

He is also trying to find out the name of the bomb disposal officer who, while waiting for a train on May 7, jumped on to the tracks at Southtown and defused a bomb that had just been dropped.

As well as a love of history, the book showcases his passion for art. With 130 hand-drawn illustrations, he is hoping that, if published, the work will help him out of unemployment and showcase his talents.

“The diagrams have been quite a challenge, and I have tried to get everything accurate. It's been a hobby since I was born, whether drawing or painting, and I hope to get into illustrating books.”

Whether or not this happens, Mr Hannant, who used to work as a medic with the paratroopers, is determined to tell a story he thinks has been neglected: “I thought that someone needed to document these people's stories. You need to record what actually happened before it's lost.”

Mr Hannant is currently looking for a publisher and can be contacted on 07842 828696.


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