A century after they died in one of the first air raids on the UK, the relatives of the nine victims of a Zeppelin raid on Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury remembered them.
They gathered today at St Edmundsbury’s Borough Cemetery Chapel only a stone’s throw from the home of Annie Dureall whose home in Mill Road, Bury St Edmunds, was destroyed by a bomb on the night of March 31-April 1, 1916, killing her, aged 29, and her son James, five, and daughter Catherine, three.
The memorial service was the idea of Annie’s grandson Colin Jamieson, whose mother Evelyn, was temporarily blinded when the rubble crashed down on her.
Colin, from Milton Keynes, said: “I realised it would be the 100th anniversary and thought we should make it not just for ourselves but for the other families – that’s how it kicked off.”
Looking round the full chapel, he added:“I didn’t know what to expect because I didn’t know whether anyone would come, but it’s fantastic.”
The service was organised by Wendy Brinkley from Armstrong’s Funeral Service, who in 2014 helped the family put a marker on Annie’s grave for the first time, and was conducted by the Rev Mark Hunt.
Rev Hunt said the relatives were taking a step back to remember people whose lives were ‘desecrated by violence’ a century ago.
“It’s difficult to understand how utterly terrifying that night must have been for the people of Bury St Edmunds, which was then a small market town,” he said.
He said it was little wonder the Bury Free Press reporting the raid called the Zeppelins ‘baby killers’.
Colin read his mother’s account of the raid, written for her family.
She wrote of her mother tucking her into bed and added: “I was not to know I would never see my mother again, or my brother or my little sister.”
Her next recollection was someone telling her to open her eyes after she was dug out of the rubble.
Tom Wolford read a poem by his grandmother Frances Dureall, daughter of Annie’s surviving son Tommy, about how her lost grave had been found. Colin had not known of his cousin until she contacted Armstrong’s after reading the story about the marker.
Rev Hunt also told the story of Henry Adams and his son George, who were killed by a bomb as they went to check a council horse Henry worked with. Henry’s other son Ernest escaped the blast by diving for cover only yards away.
His son Reg Adams, who still lives in Bury, said after the service: “I come up here regularly and would have come this morning, but I was glad to get the email about this service.
“I think it’s a shame the council didn’t do anything.”
The Zeppelin went on to bomb Sudbury where Thomas Ambrose and his wife Ellen were killed at 35 East Street, along with neighbours Ellen Wheeler and John Smith.
The Ambrose family were represented by Linda Monk and her daughter Erica Hudson, who still live in Sudbury.
Thomas was Linda’s mother’s great uncle.
She said: “I think it’s great this has been done and it is something I was glad to attend. I’m big one for history – you need to understand where we came from.”
After the service, the congregation went to the neighbouring graves of Annie and Henry for a blessing and minute’s silence.
They laid roses donated by Susette’s Flowers and a dove was released by Wishing Well Dovess. They, along with Armstrong’s and Unique Memorials had given their services.
A rose has been planted as a memorial to those who died at the cemetery gate – the nearest point to Mill Street.