Clacton: Long lost air raid fund could pay for memorial

Alan Goggin with ledger

Alan Goggin with ledger - Credit: Archant

A long-forgotten air disaster fund, originally set up in 1940, has been uncovered with around £1,700 in the account.

Air fund ledger

Air fund ledger - Credit: Archant

A ledger containing details of the Second World War fund, set up to to assist residents in Clacton affected by enemy raids, was recently discovered during an office move at Clacton Town Hall. The fund was originally established by the Rev HG Redgrave, then Chairman of Clacton Urban District Council (CUDC), after a German bomber carrying sea mines crashed in the town “causing severe damage and considerable distress”.

The Heinkel came down in Victoria Road, Clacton, on April 30, 1940, killing residents Frederick Gill and his wife Dorothy, who had the unfortunate distinction of being the first two civilian deaths of the war on the British mainland.

Although a bench and plaque already exist to mark the tragedy, Tendring District Council (TDC) is now looking to use the remaining money to enhance the site, creating a focal point and memorial which could be signposted from the town’s seafront.

The original fund was administered by a number of CUDC officials and continued to be used throughout the war to help anyone affected by air activity.

There was little use for the money after 1946 and it was deposited into a Post Office Savings bank account where it still remains to this day.

A sum of £243, 13 shillings and six pence was deposited on December 7, 1950 and with interest over the years is now worth around £1,700.

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Alan Goggin, TDC’s Cabinet Member for Tourism, said that the fund and documents are an important part of the town’s historical past and the remaining money could be used to create a focal point to commemorate the spot where the Heinkel came down.

“We have really discovered some very interesting documents about Clacton here and we need to make sure that they are well looked after,” he said.

“Equally, there is also the matter of the outstanding money which we need to think about carefully.

“We feel it would be fitting if the site where the bomber crashed - which is currently a grassed area with plants, a bench and plaque - could be improved and enhanced.

“It could become a significant focal point in the town’s history which I am sure would be of interest to many residents and visitors alike.

“We could certainly help to draw more attention to it and ensure that people are more aware of where it is.”

The site is owned by Essex County Council and TDC’s Cabinet has agreed to explore the idea and come up with options and costs for the project.