suffered 85 visits from the Luftwaffe from the first air raid
on 26th July 1940 to the end of the war in 1945. During this
time 550 HE bombs and 16 flying bombs or "doodlebugs"
fell on the town, causing the loss of 154 lives. 260 people
received serious injuries and 439 lesser injuries. There were
also 12 oil incendary bombs and 750 small incendary bombs.
There was widespread damage to houses in the town, with 463
houses being damaged beyond saving or completely demolished.
14,818 other properties also received damage but were salvagable. A
considerable number of bombs also fell in the sea and caused no damage.
The second round of voluntary evacuations saw the saw the population
of Hastings almost halved overnight from 65,000 to 34,000, and
took place on the 11th September 1940. As the bombing had already
started it was more of a mass exodus. 14,000 residents left
by special trains and 5,000 by special railway coaches. Thousands
more left the area too but preferred to make their own arrangements
with relatives or friends living in safer places.
number of casualties was much lower than expected during the
following months as many houses were uninhabited, however lives
were still lost and many homes and businesses were destroyed.
Damaged buildings included both the Royal East Sussex Hospital
(RESH) and St Helens Hospital.
Hastings had no anti-aircraft guns until 14th October 1940 so
was left completely at the mercy of German planes that were
free to circle the town dropping their bombs and then heading back
across the channel. Anti-aircraft
guns were installed around the town and heavy guns on the West
Hill as a defence against flying bombs (V1’s) but the
scale of the attacks often made defence impossible.
Clements Caves formed a natural air-raid shelter for many Old
Town families when bombing began in 1940. The caves were kitted
out with 500 bunk beds and a new entrance was knocked through
into Croft Road. The people ate, slept and generally lived as
an underground community. A fully equipped medical centre, sick
bay and dining hall were also added and an official inspector
from the Civil Defence Commissioner remarked that it was "the
best air-raid shelter in the country".
|St Clements Caves
Map showing all HE bombs which fell on
Hastings & St Leonards during World War 2
|Clothes rationing began on Whit Sunday (June 1st) in 1941. 66 coupons
were given to every citizen and some had to be used ever time
an article of clothing was purchased. The allowance of coupons
was reduced in following years as the war went on.
was heald from 10th to 17th May 1941 in order to raise money
to loan the government in the form of War Savings. The target
was £200,000 and this was easily met despite the towns'
much reduced population. Locals raised a total of £370,940
for the cause, which was shown on an indicator panel designed
by students of the Hastings School of Art. The panel was attached
to the Albert Memorial Clock Tower in the Town Centre.
|War Weapons Week