Monday, March 9, 2015
Ashford, Kent, 24 March 1943
During World War II Ashford's importance as a transportation (railway) hub and its location between the Continent and London made it a target for bombing by the Luftwaffe. The best coverage of this raid is in Chris Goss' book Luftwaffe Fighter-Bombers Over Britain: The Tip andRun Campaign, 1942-43, published by Crecy in 2003.
After briefly being evacuated to Witney in Oxfordshire, I returned home to Hewitt House, a guesthouse in the Hythe Road, Ashford, Kent. My father, Charles Nowers, had been directed to factory work, being too old to serve in the forces and my mother, Mary, had to give up running the guesthouse because of the rationing of supplies and the many rules and regulations that surrounded this undertaking. There was also the chance of possible enemy aliens attempting to lodge at Hewitt House.
After the bombing of Coventry, my father returned home and joined the Home Guard, rising to the rank of Lieutenant and eventually became a civil servant dealing with war damage claims. Mother sorted the mail at Ashford's Sorting Office.
When I was fifteen years of age, probably the most dramatic day of the war for me, the Air Raid Siren sounded. My friends and I, the two Johns, Bob and Derek hung back on our way to the shelter to see what all the fuss was about. Low flying FW 190 fighter-bombers roared overhead and huge explosions were heard with rising columns of smoke over the town. 51 people were killed and 76 more were gravely injured together with much property damage.
Arriving home, (1½ miles away in Magazine Road), I found my mother covered in soot from the chimney, the front door jammed and the cat missing. Needless, to say the cat returned two days later sooty but hungry.
My friend Bob and I learnt that a German FW 190 had been shot down locally and its' embedded in the front of a house. Of course we rushed off to see it and perhaps collect some souvenirs only to receive a sharp reprimand from the lady of the house to get off her wall before we damaged it.