Thursday 13 June 2013

Town's air raid disaster fund found after more than 70 years

Clacton air disaster fund found after more than 70 years

An interesting local story here as one of my county's well-known seaside resorts receives an unexpected windfall after the chance discovery of a long-forgotten disaster fund left over from the Second World War.

Initially started after a German Heinkel He111 bomber crashed in the town on the 30th April 1940 - destroying sixty-seven houses, injuring 160 people and resulting in the first two civilian deaths on mainland Britain of the war (as described in this fascinating newsreel I found, above) - the account went on to receive further contributions not only from local residents & businesses but also holidaymakers, passers-through and even famous bandleaders of the time Joe Loss and Billy Cotton (both of whom were known to donate money to worthy causes).  It was consequently dipped into for the next few years but in 1950 the remaining £243 13s 6d was put into a Post Office Savings Account and then, it seems, promptly forgotten about.

Had it not been for an office clear-out at the town hall the money may have gone unnoticed indefinitely, but now the original ledger and other related documents have been discovered and show that - after 73 years - the account is in credit to the tune of £1,700!

While that may not sound like much of a return on seven decades of interest (even taking into account inflation, decimalisation and other factors, the 1940 fund's original sum of £1,244 12s 0d would be equivalent to about £55,000 in today's money!) it's still seventeen hundred pounds more than Clacton thought it had and I'm delighted to see that the council intend to put it towards a permanent memorial to the original disaster, one that will complement the already-existing inscribed bench.

It seems suitably fitting and splendidly serendipitous that a fund set up in the wake of a wartime tragedy to help the people of Clacton during the dark days of the conflict is able to be used today to commemorate the local victims and ensure that the original incident is never forgotten.  I shall look forward to seeing Clacton's new memorial, to be erected thanks to these long-lost monies.


  1. I saw that in the paper. Odd the things that surface after so many years, like ancient letters suddenly being delivered etc.

  2. Fancy that! Isn't it great that they've rediscovered the fund and will be putting it to good use.


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