Sunday, May 8, 2016

Finding Harry (Part II)

The Raid on Bury St. Edmunds

In my previous blog post “Finding Harry”  Harry in a letter written a letter to his mother, he mentioned he had heard from “Gladys “ and she “did not seem very frightened by the raid.”  From the first time I read his letter, I had wondered about the story behind this comment.

The letter was written in 1915, during the Great War (World War I).  I never heard much about bombing raids during that war, but certainly had heard about them during WW2 from my British grandparents.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I had come across a new source to comb for genealogy related stories.  You will find that blog post here.  “British Newspaper Archive”

I had been waiting for BNA to start adding pages for The Free Bury Press from the 1930’s as I thought I would find my 2x’s great grandfather John Chinery’s obituary someday.  I finally came across a rather extensive obit for him just last week.[1]  In the obit, it mentioned he was standing on his front step when the Anchor Inn was bombed, and it blew him off of his feet.  Intrigued, and remembering Harry’s letter, I starting trying different search terms such as “Bury”, “bomb”, and “raid”. 

Sure enough I got a hit for 8 May 1915 with the paper devoting several pages of stories to the bombing of Bury St. Edmunds by a German piloted ZEPPELIN!!  This had happened 9 days prior.  This would be perfect timing for Harry’s letter.   One article was titled “Narrow Escapes in Northgate Street”[2]
"Narrow Escape in Northgate Street"
Bury Free Press, 8 May 1915
This particular article stood out as I know that my 2x’s great grandfather lived on Northgate Street.  And this article starts off by discussing the bomb that fell on the Anchor Inn.   The same inn mentioned in his obituary. 

Back to Gladys in Harry’s letter; she is his older sister, who I happened to remember meeting on at least one occasion in the 1980’s.  In the 1931 obituary, it states that John Chinery had been taken care of by Miss Gladys Chinery since his wife’s death.  Though I don’t have definitive proof that Gladys was on Northgate Street that night, I do have evidence in census records that various grandchildren, at various times, were enumerated living on Northgate Street with their grandparents John and Rose Ann (Hunt) Chinery.  
If I had not been given Harry’s letter, I may not have thought to research how German bombs falling from Zeppelins would have directly affected my ancestors lives.   I wish now I would have known of the letter when I met Gladys.  The questions I would have asked her!

[1] "The Late Mr. J Chinery." The Bury Free Press [Bury St. Edmunds] 13 Feb. 1937, No 8752 p3 col 1. British Newspaper Archives. Web. 02 May 2016.referencing death and funeral of John Chinery.

[2] "Narrow Escapes in Northgate Street." The Free Bury Press [Bury St. Edmunds] 8 May 1915, No. 3036, p 6 col 2. British Newspapers Online. Web. 02 May 2016, referencing 29 April 1915 bombing raid on Bury St. Edmunds.

1 comment:

  1. What an incredible story!! What a great find! And, I was anxious to learn more, so glad you were able to find these articles. I saw they mentioned the surveyor took photos... wonder if you'll be able to find any of those? :)