11th December 1943: Air Raid on Colchester Castle Park

Felt a good deal better, though weak.  Headache quite gone.  Got up late, lit fires, did chores, much badgered by Mrs Roe.  Jacquie rather quiet, I suspect because she has no chance to get a word in edgeways.  Very cold and overcast, with some thin snow, and little blizzards at times.  Set off for Colchester at 12.30.

I had forgotten all about last night’s raid until I was going up East Hill, when I noticed two broken windows in a shop near Priory Street, then one or two more windows gone in the tall houses on the corner of Roman Road.  The Park locked with “Unexploded Bomb” on the gate.  Several windows out in High Street, as far as St Nicholas Church, and one or two right down Queen Street.

70 years ago today Colchester Castle had had a lucky escape when a stick of four bombs was dropped on Castle Park on the night of 10th December 1943.  Three of the bombs exploded in the Park but the fourth bomb, which fell within feet of the back of Colchester Castle, failed to explode.  E.J. Rudsdale's account of this event can be found in his book.  A pencil sketch he made of the site of the unexploded bomb is shown below and reveals that a Roman drain was discovered when the unexploded bomb was removed.  CP

Went to Boxted at 5, to Little Rivers to see the Roses.  Saw Mrs Piccard there (nee Phoebe Fenwick Gaye).   Showed me the evening paper with an account of a murder of a taxi driver called Hailstone, whose body has been found in a ditch by Birch Rectory.  Supposed to have been killed by Americans.  His mother was injured in August 1940 and died a year later.  His little sister used to come into the Castle Vaults in air raids.  Stayed talking about London.  She told me of another murder, at Hampstead, a few weeks ago, where a man met a Canadian and asked him home to supper.  After the supper the Canadian murdered and robbed him.  She also told me it was estimated that there were 10,000 deserters in London.

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