Great Yarmouth: Air Raid Victims Remembered

The first British civilians to be killed by aerial bombardment will be formally remembered in Great Yarmouth – exactly 100 years after the devastating Zeppelin raid which took their lives.

Samuel Smith, 53, and Martha Taylor, 72, were killed during the First World War when Zeppelin L3, piloted by Kapitan Leutnant Hans Fritz, dropped bombs on St Peter’s Plain, in Great Yarmouth, on January 19, 1915.

As part of the centenary of the conflict, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has refurbished their graves and is inviting the public to two remembrance services to take place on Monday, January 19, 2015.

At 11am, Councillor Marlene Fairhead, the mayor of the Great Yarmouth borough, will lay a wreath at the grave of Mr Smith, at the New Cemetery, off Kitchener Road. A new tablet commemorating the service will also be unveiled at his grave.

The existing plaques on his grave have been recently restored by stone mason, Colin Smith. GYB Services Ltd, the borough council’s operational partner, has tidied up both his grave and that of Miss Taylor, which is at Caister Cemetery.

Kitchener Road will be temporarily closed for the service, between 9.30am and noon. Afterwards attendees should drive into the town centre for another service at St Peter’s Plain, which will also be closed temporarily for the service, between 10.30am and 1pm.

The explosion in 1915 blew out the front of St Peter’s Villa and so seriously damaged nearby Pestell’s Buildings that they had to be demolished. Many other homes suffered blast damage. Today, a blue plaque marks the bomb site.

As part of the service, led by The Rev Canon Chris Terry, of the Great Yarmouth Minster, there will be a talk by Dr Paul Davies, of the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society. Refreshments will be served afterwards at the Theatre Café.

Cllr Fairhead said: “While we pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the service personnel who fight abroad to secure our freedoms, it is also fitting to remember the civilians killed in their own towns and cities over the decades.

“Samuel Smith and Martha Taylor were the first British civilians to be killed by aerial bombardment, prefiguring the deadly air raids that took so many more lives during the Second World War.

“In 1915, their burials were carefully arranged to avoid publicity, so it is appropriate during the centenary of the First World War to remember them more publicly. The public is most welcome to attend and I would especially like to invite along any descendants of the victims.”

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