DEV­AS­TA­TION

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - German Raid Claimed Young Family - By Dan Wright

Sev­enty-five years ago on Satur­day a young fam­ily was killed in a dev­as­tat­ing Ger­man bomb­ing raid that de­stroyed four homes.

Four fam­ily homes in Bir­ling Road in Willes­bor­ough were de­stroyed in the at­tack on Fe­bru­ary 3 1943.

Among the vic­tims were Wil­liam and Ade­line (Ann) Chamberlain and their young daugh­ter Wendy, who were killed when their home took a di­rect hit in the Luft­waffe raid.

Ham­street res­i­dent David Winder, 60, says his mother, Doris, and her fam­ily lived just two doors away from the Cham­ber­lains at 80 Bir­ling Road.

“They were lit­er­ally just feet away from the dev­as­ta­tion,” he said.

“I would imag­ine it was one of the worst bomb­ings in Ash­ford as the houses were razed to the ground – it is thought they were aim­ing for the rail­way works.

“It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the vic­tims with the an­niver­sary – there are prob­a­bly other events that are more sig­nif­i­cant, but this was in the cen­tre of town and my mother says it was a scene of dev­as­ta­tion.”

In 2016, the new £8.7mil­lion Hous­ing and Care 21 com­plex – in War­ren Lane next to the Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel and Drovers round­about – was named Chamberlain Manor in mem­ory of the fam­ily.

Mr Winder, a re­tired fleet di­rec­tor at Bom­bardier who served his ap­pren­tice­ship at Chart Lea­con in the 1970s, says his fam­ily sur­vived the bomb­ing by the “grace of God”.

They were awo­ken by the air raid siren and only just had time to reach their in­door shel­ter when the de­struc­tion oc­curred.

Mr Winder’s mother, now aged 87, was only 12 at the time and re­calls be­ing sent to school with her sis­ter as nor­mal on the day of the at­tack.

“The im­por­tant thing for me is how close it came to oblit­er­at­ing my fam­ily,” Mr Winder added.

“The sur­round­ing houses were dam­aged and my mum says ceil­ings were down, win­dows were smashed and pic­tures were off the walls.

“Coin­ci­den­tally, that morn­ing my fa­ther, Pe­ter, who was on watch duty at the rail­way works, wit­nessed the bomber fly over and dis­charge its load, but it was some 10 years later be­fore he met my mother.”

Do you re­mem­ber the dev­as­tat­ing Bir­ling Road bomb­ing? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, Unit 4, Park Mall shop­ping cen­tre, Ash­ford, TN24 8RY or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group. co.uk

Wendy Chamberlain, three, and her par­ents Will, 34, and Ade­line, 39, all died in their Bir­ling Road home af­ter it was hit by Ger­man bombs

Wendy Chamberlain’s grave in By­brook ceme­tery, where the fam­ily is buried

Pic­ture: Alan Lan­g­ley

Chamberlain Manor, in War­ren Lane was named af­ter the fam­ily

The Bir­ling Road bomb­ing Fe­bru­ary 3, 1943 in Ash­ford

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