In one single raid on June 25, 1942, 1500 incendiary bombs were dropped on Great Yarmouth before eight more high explosive bombs were dropped. At the end of the raid, three people had died while 19 more were injured with the area also suffering a great deal of damage. Even the largest parish church in England wasn’t spared as St Nicholas’ Church took several hits from the incendiary bombs. Only the walls and the Norman tower survived the fire that followed. However, the church underwent a great deal of restoration, paid for by a restoration fund and in 1961, the church was finally reopened.
To mark the 75th year since the bombing, several special events have been planned for June 25th. The Minster Church will be holding a civic service of commemoration and there was also a 1940s fair at the Market place and this attracted a large number of people. The event was part of Great Yarmouth Borough Councils’ town centre initiative. While welcoming guests to the Minster for the commemoration service, Rev Jemma Sander-Heys gave a brief history of the events that transpired 75 years ago when the church was bombed. The readings of the event also described what had happened on that fateful day.
At the church, the act of commemoration started with a siren sound which was followed by a minute of silence. The borough’s mayor, Kerry Robinson-Payne, described the service as lovely and stated that show was proud to be representing the borough during the commemoration.
The Great Yarmouth Minster Preservation Trust organised several 1940s themed events with the Big Lottery Fund supporting the events held at the church. At the market place, a 1940s fair was held and it included live music, Dad’s Army characters and a Churchill impersonator. Various material from the Second World War was also put on display including a Spratt’s coach that offered a tour of the area’s wartime defences and vintage vehicles. There were various stalls and attractions and a unique Lacon’s ale was also on sale for the day.
The Jive Bunnies will be performing in the Minster on Friday, June 30 and Miss Kitty Collins will sing some of the best songs from the 40s. There will also be an exhibition of Great Yarmouth in WW2 on display on July 12 between 10 in the morning and 3 pm inside the Minster.