Saturday 9 February 2013

10th Febuary 1943

This story started when I came across this bit of Tracery from St  Lawrence church in Reading.

 On a stone plaque at the base is written
 "This tracery formed part of what was the West Window of St  Lawrence's Church. It was dislodged during an enemy action on February 10th 1943."
I'd passed this hundreds of times on my way to school at St James down the road and it was only now I found out there had been an air raid on Reading. I looked into it to find out more.
 On that fateful day a German Bomber flew in over Reading dropping bombs and firing a machine gun at people on the ground. Four bombs fell in a line

 The tracery above can just be seen on the right of the photo.
 The attack left its mark on Reading and during the raid 41 people lost their lives,

 The same area today where the damage was done I will try for a better photo when Thames Water have finished work near the church

 most of them in a restaurant called the Peoples Pantry 150 people were also injured. The death toll would have been higher but for one thing, it was half day closing so the place was relatively empty. The restaurant was manned by the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service WRVS .

Now you would not know anything had happened

The area today with a horrible new building replacing the old one which was damaged.

This was the peoples pantry the photo I managed to get off the BBC news website

 According to the BBC website and from what I can make out the Peoples Pantry stood around here
 I think this photo is looking towards the Market Place.

Think this is about the right place though the building look like they have all been replaced.
Reading seemed to forget that day and no memorial was placed to those who died. Even their last resting place is almost forgotten.

They lay buried here in a line though now other graves are mixed in with them. The second and third headstones in the photo are two of the people who died. Looking at the headstone you can see many women who must have been in the WRVS lay buried here. I've written a small blog about two of the girls buried here. killed-by-enemy-action.

Walking round the area it happened you would be forgive in thinking none of it had happened at all but St Lawrence Church tells a different story. The pock marks on the wall here to me look like shrapnel damage.

If you look closely in this area there is what I think is either shrapnel in the wall or the remains of a bullet. Another story I have been told is originally the turrets at the four corners of the tower had little spires of the top of them, these survived the bombing but each f them had been rotated about 10 degrees. They stayed that way through the rest of the war but were taken down later.

 Shrapnel marks on the church

I'm sure this is a bullet lodged in the stonework
Even Queen Victoria was a casualty, if you look you can see her finger is missing, it's now on show in Reading Museum.

On the 10th February a memorial was unveiled to the memory of those who died 70 years to the day after it happened.
I have listed the names of those killed who were known, four others were unidentified.
Ernest Barnes, aged 67, from Carey St. Killed in Market St.
Ernest Beswick, 32, from Purley, Peoples Pantry
Violet Brown, 10, from London St, killed in Minster St
Betty Parsons, 11, South St, Minsiter St
Catherine Byland, 47, Oxford Rd Tilehurst, Arcade
Florence Chandler, 64, from Whitley, Peoples Pantry
Jesse Costin, 73, from Gt Knollys St, Peoples Pantry
Dennis Cook, 18, Spring Gardens, Town Hall
Nellie Dixon, 28. No address given, Peoples Pantry
James Doran, 62, Greyfriars Rd, Old Cheddar Cheese, Broad St
Arthur Dowling, 61, Gt Knollys St, Outside the Town Hall
Edward Eaton, a Warden from Southampton, aged 58, killed in Market Place
Henry Godden, 61, Kolybrook Rd, killed in Friar St
Edward Harding, 58, from the same address in Greyfriars Rd as James Doran, Peoples Pantry
William Hickey, 69, Gosbrook Rd, Peoples Pantry
Ernest Hobbs, 69, Argyle St, Peoples Pantry
William Hooban, 61, Salcombe Drive, Arcade
Edward Humphrys, 33, Bracknell, Peoples Pantry
PC Rex Jupp, 24, Ennerdale Rd, Market Place
REginald Kersley, 58, Stanhope Rd, Peoples Pantry
George Langford, 10, Slacombe Rd, Peoples Pantry
Aristide Macrini, 63, London St, Market Place
Arthur Merchant, 56, from Sherman Place. Peoples Pantry
Julia Miles, 69, Wokingham, Peoples Pantry
Edith Osbourne, 49, Southampton St, Peoples Pantry
Emily Parker, 25, neighbour of Edith Osbourne, Peoples Pantry
Dorothy Pateman, 36, WVS volunteer in Peoples Pantry
Mildred Pike, 29, Tilehurst Rd, Market Place
Arthur Sayer, 65, Baker St, Peoples Pantry
Frank Seymour, 49, Hamilton Rd, killed in Blandy and Blandy's
Ellen Simmonds, 75, St Giles Buildings, Peoples Pantry
Wiliam Temple, 58, KIngs Rd Caversham, Outside Town Hall
Margaret Thackeray, 29, Emmer Green, on duty in Town Hall
Ellen Thompson, 51, Linden Rd, Peoples Pantry
Lily Weinstein, 46, Baker St, Peoples Pantry
John Wilmott, 72, Silver St, Peoples Pantry.

Killed by Enemy Action 10th February 1943




  1. You need to tweek the text a bit Bill for correct English, particularly the last two line above.
    Most off the pock marks on St Lawrence's are from shrapnel. Also it might be worth noting that originally the turrets at the four corners of the tower had little spires of the top of them, these survived the bombing but each f them had been rotated about 10 degrees. They stayed that way through the rest of the war but were taken down later.
    Otherwise well done

  2. Seems such a long time to wait for a memorial. An interesting story and well researched starting with the original Tracery. Thanks for visiting my blog.Any chance of getting rid of the word verification?

  3. Hi im not good with technology so you prob have this twice now. Im Natalie my Grandad was Arthur Parsons who passed last year. His sister was Betty Parsons age 11 killed by the bombing at the peoples pantry. My Grandad was reluctant to talk about his sisters death and i have been searching for her grave and thanks to your site i now know where it is and my family and my self can go and pay our respects. I think its mad that ive grown up in reading walking through the now walk way that leads to a sainsburys and the market place that was the pantry and touching the walls not knowing that is where my great aunt was killed. Its sad thinking of her like that. Again thank you

  4. Thank you for a very interesting story and documentary pictures! Well done.