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South Wales Echo & Evening Express
Friday, October 11, 1940
- Houses Destroyed In Severe Raid On South Wales Town -

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Four Dead, Four Injured In One Street
Remarkable Escapes of Others
MANY BOMBS DROPPED
(Copy of an original newspaper)

 

(Above the headlines and below the report from the South Wales Echo.)

 

There were a number of casualties, including some fatalities, when German bombers straddled high explosive and fire bombs on a South Wales coastal town last night.

Ir was one of the severest raids the area has yet experienced. Many of the bombs dropped were of very high calibre, and the damage to houses was extensive.

The German aeroplanes swept across the town at a high speed and almost immediately dropped a large number of bombs.

In one street five houses were damaged, killing three people and seriously injuring four others. An elderly woman died later in the day. Other persons received injuries of a less serious nature.

DYING WOMAN WHO GOT UP AND WALKED!

The five houses that were destroyed were in one block and masonry was flung across the street.

In adjoining streets a number of fires were caused.

A multiple provision store was also fired.

The outbreaks were controlled quickly.

One of the dead, Mrs. Mary Llewellyn, aged 65, was with her sister when a bomb struck their house. Mrs. Ada Llewellyn was rescued by a neighbour and rushed to hospital.

Next door Mr. Love was killed and his wife injured.

Rescue parties worked for hours to release the dead persons, who were buried under tons of debris.

SAVED BY SHELTER

Mr. Richard Davies said Mr. and Mrs. Love had gone to their shelter night after night for months. Last night, however, they remained in the house.

Mr. Davies and his wife had remarkable escapes when their house was wrecked.

"We were in our shelter when tons of debris fell on it," he said. "Dust and smoke from a fire which had broken out next door poured in through the entrance, but we were unhurt.

"When I struggled out my first thought was for Mr. and Mrs. Price, who live with me and were in the back bedroom. Although most of the house collapsed and the front and middle bedrooms fell into the street, the prices were unhurt. The stairs had gone and we had to help them down through what remained of the window frames."

Mr Davies added that he was not keen on going to the shelter, but was persuaded by his wife just before the bombs fell.

Another woman killed in one of the stricken houses was May Coakin aged 42. A man names Henry Meredith is detained in hospital suffering from injuries received.

Another casualty was two-year-old James Morgan, son of Mr. and Mrs Edgar Morgan, who live opposite the wrecked houses. Jimmy was cut by glass, but his condition is not thought to be serious.

A MIRACLE

Telling the story of his remarkable escape, Mrs Morgan said, "Jimmy and my other little son, David, were sitting on the bed. I left them to go downstairs for a moment and then heard a whizz as the bombs fell. The fire in the kitchen grate flew out into the room. I rushed upstairs and found Jimmy on the bed covered in glass and wood, with blood streaming from his head."

There were the most tragic scenes in another house opposite the main damage. The front room was blown in by the blast and much of the debris tell on the bed of Mrs. Stoneman a 65-year-old woman who had been seriously ill and was not expected to live.

When her daughter went into the room she found the old lady walking around and trying to get out.

"They say the age of miracles is past," said the daughter to a South Wales Echo reporter, "but there she was, walking."

The invalid was carried out to an Anderson shelter, but. unfortunately, she collapsed later and died.

In the same street a cripple was in the front downstairs room and escaped injury by flinging herself on the floor behind the settee as debris from a demolished house opposite was flung through the window.

A mother and her children in the middle room of the bouse escaped injury.

Bombs fell in other streets nearby and in one instance a high calibre bomb dug a big crater in a back garden, completely smashing an air raid shelter. But the family were in the house cellar and escaped without a scratch, although their house was torn and shattered.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT

An Air Ministry and Ministry of Home Security communique stated:

"Enemy air attacks last night were again mainly directed against the London area, though bombings have also been reported from other areas in England and Wales.

"In London and its suburbs, high explosive and Incendiary bombs were scattered over a wide area, doing damage to a number ot houses and commercial buildings, and causing some fires, none of which was of an extensive character, and all of which were soon brought under control.

"The total number of casualties is not yet available. It is known, however, that some persons have been killed or injured, but having regard to the scale and the widespread and indiscriminate nature of the attacks the number of casualties is not heavy, according to the information at present available.

“In one town in South Wales some houses were demolished and a small number of persons killed or Injured.

“ Bombs were dropped in various rural areas in Wales, but here little damage was done and no casualties have been reported.

”Attacks were also made on three towns in North-east England, at one of which some cottages were damaged.

"From these attacks a small number of fatal injuries resulted."


Haydn Davies, in his excellent book The History of the Borough of Newport, describes the bombing thus:

At 7.10 pm on Wednesday, October 9th, a single bomber crossed the town flying low at great speed through a terrific anti-aircraft barrage. Suddenly it loosed a single stick of high explosive bombs and was away! The newspaper report the next day stated baldly that ‘bombs were dropped on the working class district of a South Wales town and a hotel a mile from the town centre was damaged’. Of course this was Pillgwenlly!

Falling almost in a straight line, the bombs landed on the Alexandra Dock Hotel, Watchhouse Parade, Pottery Terrace, Baldwin Street, Albion Street, Capel Street and Lewis Street. Extensive damage was done to property but except in the hotel there were no fatalities.

As the attack came just after 7 pm, the Alexandra Dock Hotel was open and dealing with its early evening customers when the building literally blew up and collapsed upon them.

Three people including the landlady were killed and several seriously injured customers had to be dug out of the ruins. Off-duty Police Constable Charles Cook risked his life by burrowing deeply into the tottering wreckage to save several lives. For his action that evening he was awarded the George Medal; a police colleague and two civilians received the OBE (Civil Division) and five others were commended for bravery.

Anyone wishing to spend a quiet moment at this scene of both tragedy and great bravery, will find the hotel long gone although it was put back to good repair and operated busily for years afterwards. It is now but a green sward with a few trees where the extreme end of Mendalgief Road has been realigned into Watchhouse Parade.

More photos and reports:

The Alexandra Dock Hotel After Being Struck By A Bomb In 1940

Photos of Constables Cook and Wetter

Heinkel Bomber Smashed into 32, Stow Park Avenue

German war-time map of Newport

German war-time aerial views of Newport

 

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