An air disaster fund which was originally set up in 1940 to assist residents in Clacton affected by enemy raids is to be used to create a fitting memorial.
The fund was 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, and resulted in the first two civilian deaths of the war on the British mainland.
Although a bench and plaque already exist, Tendring District Council (TDC) is looking at using the remaining money – some £1,700, with a further £10,000 - to enhance the site.
Work is to begin in the next couple of weeks and will include planting and hard landscaping. The idea is to create a focal point with the memorial signposted from the town’s seafront.
The original fund was administered by a number of CUDC officials and also continued to be used throughout the war to help anyone affected by air activity.
There was little use of the money after 1946 and it was deposited into a Post Office Savings Bank Account where it remains to this day. The amount 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.
The account documents were discovered in an office in Clacton Town Hall during an office move four years ago.
Along with the documents are a ledger of donations with names such as world famous band leaders Billy Cotton and Joe Loss, Lady Byng of Vimy, church collections, the General Steam Navigation Co Ltd, “an offering from a visitor”, along with many more from businesses and individuals.
The final figure in the book is £1,244 and 12 shillings. Money was then handed out during the war and the remaining £243 put into a Post Office Savings Account in 1950.
TDC first looked into creating a new memorial in Victoria Road in 2013 but is now in a position to go ahead.
Michael Talbot, TDC’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said that the memorial will mark an important date in the town’s history.
“It is our aim to have something ready for the 77th anniversary of the Heinkel coming down on April 30, although we may have to add the memorial stone at a later date,” he said.
“We are also keen to trace anyone whose family has any connections with the event so that we can invite them along to the ceremony and they can be part of this special occasion.”
Cllr Talbot added that the documents found in the Town Hall are both very interesting and important and will be well looked after.
“It is the ideal use of the money that was left in the fund – with some topping up - to provide this enhanced focal point where the incident took place,” he added.
“A more prominent memorial will be of great interest to both residents and visitors alike.”
Nick Turner, who was Cabinet Member when the fund was discovered and suggested the idea of the memorial, said he is delighted that the initiative is now being taken forward.
Anyone who is connected, or has family connected, to what happened on April 30, 1940 at that site in Clacton should contact 01255 686677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org