A special Armistice Day presentation by two local historians is set to give people of all ages an opportunity to see how bombardment from both the air and sea affected Britain’s most easterly town over two World Wars.
Target Lowestoft which takes place at the Marina Theatre on November 11th tells the extraordinary story of how Lowestoft became one of a handful of places in Britain to suffer all three forms of enemy attack in the First World War. Bombed by Zeppelins in 1915, the town subsequently suffered a surprise Sunday morning raid by seaplanes in 1916, followed by bombardment by heavy battle cruisers of the German High Seas Fleet on Easter Monday 1916. The shelling killed four people and caused widespread fear and alarm amongst the local populace.
But the damage inflicted during the First World War by the Kaiser’s men was only a precursor of what was to follow from Hitler’s Luftwaffe in World War Two. From the first raid on 21 June 1940, to the last on 21 April 1944, a staggering 105 attacks were directed against the town and surrounding area. Despite evacuation, the large number of military personnel stationed in Lowestoft meant that casualties were often disproportionately high. In one sneak raid on 13 January 1942, four bombs in the main street left 70 people dead and over 100 injured in what became known as the Waller’s Raid, named as such after a restaurant which took a direct hit.
The scale of what the town went through is staggering as Bob Collis explains: “By the time the last air raid alert had sounded on 12 April 1945, the 2,064 such warning –Out of 11,830 houses in the old Borough of Lowestoft, 9,433 in number had suffered damage by the war’s end. Nearly a thousand high explosive bombs fell on the town and surrounding villages, along with more than 18,000 incendiary bombs. Parachute mines and V-1 “Doodlebugs” were among the weapons which added to the destruction”.
Simon Baker adds: “By using a mixture of old photographs, some of which have never been seen in public before, then and now comparisons of the scenes, and stunning computer-generated images created by Norfolk researcher Kim Collinson, we are aiming to take the audience on a journey back in time to see how much of ‘Old’ Lowestoft has disappeared forever as a result of the bombs and shells that hit the town in the two conflicts”.
A spokesperson for the Marina Theatre said “It seems fitting that on such a significant day we should host a presentation that remembers the ordeal and loss that Lowestoft and its people experienced in both World Wars”
The event is also aims to pay tribute to our armed forces including local men who lost their lives in World War Two. Some of the Lowestoft men who died in accidents or on operations are featured in the show, which is being presented by Lowestoft Aviation Society.
Target Lowestoft takes place at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft at 2.30 on November 11. Tickets priced at £7.50, with Concessions at £5.50 and are available from the Marina Box Office in advance and at the door. For more information or to book, please call 01502 533200 or click online at www.marinatheatre.co.uk
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