Rye Bombing Pictures Discovered

Marilyn Martin (Purrington) has discovered these wartime pictures of bomb damage to the Methodist Church among her mothers possessions.

The Church was hit by bombs from German aircraft in September 1942. At the same time the roof of the Ypres Castle was blown off.

The day of Tuesday 22 September 1942 dawned clear and bright in Rye. The sound of builders working on many roofs that had been damaged by ‘Tip & Run’ raiders that had swooped on the town without warning just six day before could be heard on that late summer morning. A smell of stale cordite and plaster, even now, still permeated the air.

Just after lunch on that fateful day the air raid siren  wailed. This was followed, almost immediately, by the roar of aircraft engines, the rattle of machine guns and the screaming of bombs dropping onto their targets.

This time it was Rye’s famous Ypres Castle, the Methodist Church and the Regent Cinema in Cinque Ports Street that were hit. Several men, drafted into Rye under the ‘Group Repair System’ were caught in the blast and killed on the roofs as they worked. A relief Manager at the Regent Cinema was the only fatality in that building. He had been sent to Rye to get away from the bombing in London for a fortnight! A cat, with a new litter of kittens, was found safe in a wrecked car at the back of the building. Soldiers demolished the front facade of the cinema, all that was left standing and wrote the words ‘Gone with the wind’ on the programme advertiser.

The figure seen standing in the bombed-out church building (above) is no other than Clifford Foster of Adams, the current Master of the Methodist Choir.

These remarkable pictures from that terrible day will revive memories for those Ryers who are old enough to remember Rye at war.

There are fewer Ryers about now who lived through those desperate times and with each passing year the numbers dwindle.

Those that do remember know the true value of their town and the spirit of the people that live here.

Marilyn’s pictures emphasise just what we were fighting for and what we lost and won.

Stories of those far off times demonstrate how vulnerable Rye is and demonstrates the courage of Rye people like stand in Mayor Joe Cooper, who led the town in 1940, when many thought the next train of soldiers passing through on their return from the beaches of Dunkirk might contain the first wave of German assault troops. All English Mayors were down for execution under the Nazi master plan for England.

“Rye’s Own” March 2013

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