Brian Collecot's Story
Reproduced from the book A History of Bath, Image and Reality
Professor Graham Davis kindly gave permission to reproduce this text.
In the book the quotes below were attributed to "Brian Collecot, private collection".
"An eyewitness described the second Luftwaffe raid on the first night of the Bath Blitz:
I had not gone off to sleep when the sirens went again and then the second dose began. For some reason I had decided to take cover under the kitchen table. Hansell followed and it got hotter and hotter for us. The noise of the bombs screaming down was really frightening and I must confess I thought every one was for us.
It wasn't until 5.20 a.m., however, that we really caught it and then there was a terrific crash followed by falling debris and I remember Mrs M say almost stoically 'My house is gone'. It wasn't gone, but everything was a shamble - furniture in front room upset and smashed, windows and doors completely out with ribbons of blinds and curtains trailing across the room. All the ceilings came down and later when we was [sic] able to look most of the road was gone. This was the result of a direct hit on the church opposite which was completely demolished, as also were about a dozen houses further down as a result of another couple of bombs. God, it was really terrifying and how thankful we were when the day dawned there was a deathly silence and we knew they had gone.
When we looked down KE [King Edward] road we could see that in addition to the completely destroyed, every house had been made uninhabitable. The early morning was cold, there was no water or gas and everything was covered with dust and grime. Fortunately, the electric current was still on so Mrs M contrived to make us a cup of tea and had that and shared a cake. After that we started to clear debris and salvage our belongings.
After the second night's raid, our witness surveyed the scene of devastation:
Bath's beautiful Assembly rooms were still smoking this a.m. Between the corner end of Manvers Street and Southgate Street the whole area is a smoking ruin. Lorritts Biscuit factory is a tottering ruin and four churches around there are gutted. The amazing Abbey still stands serene although bereft of some valuable stained glass.
This last night's damage, Poor little Holloway had a packet on Saturday but worse still last night ... I hear the wonderful Circus has been badly knocked about. But Milsom Street and Union Street seem pretty intact except for smashed windows."
"Mrs M" is probably Mrs E Marchant, who lived at Number 50 King Edward Road. The City Engineer's report on her house showed that it was badly damaged but repairable, and not structurally dangerous.
The photograph above is my own addition, reproduced from the Bath Library collection. Other pictures of King Edward Road can be found here.
The "church opposite" is St Bartholomew's Church. It was not "completely demolished" but it was very badly damaged. More information about the damage to this church can be found here.
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