Another Story of a Brighton Bombing.
Tuesday, 25th May 1943.
Over the years, I have written many stories about the war years in Brighton. I have read and researched many stories about the ‘Air Attacks’ on Brighton during the 2nd World War but I don’t think I have ever come across one really quite as sad as this.
I knew this lady vaguely, although I wouldn’t put her in the class of being a good friend of mine. I had a letter published in the Argus some years ago now and she was a lady who answered my call. I was looking for people who had a wartime story about Brighton to tell me. I revelled in reading wartime stories that happened in Brighton, especially if they occurred on the 25th May 1943. However, I never expected to get a story like this one.
This is one of those letters which every so often pops up in the service and gives you a bit of a shaking-up. You can understand someone writing a letter about another local family or possibly a neighbour but your own family, well that is a different thing altogether.
The story starts just before midday on 25th May 1943. A discussion takes place at home in the Sebbage’s house in Glynde Road, just off and close to Queen’s Park Road, as to what meat to buy for dinner.
This is the letter I received.
Dear Mr. Rowland,
Yesterday I was given your book, ‘The Brighton Blitz’, I must congratulate you on such a marvellous book. As I am reading it all the sad memories of the war are coming back to me.
I am now 88 years of age come September. I can remember the bombing of Brighton so vividly. At that time, I was working in a shop in Montague Place in Kemp Town during all the war years; right in the front line. I was also working there when the bomb fell on the Odeon theatre killing all those little children. I think there were more children killed than you printed in your book. But you certainly made every detail so true.
My mother, Mrs Louisa Sebbage of Glynde Road, Brighton was killed by the bomb blast just as she was crossing the road to go into Pinkstone’s, the butchers. She was found in the rubble approaching the butcher’s late at night.
It was sad to say that she had been decapitated. My father could only identify her by her engagement ring. Her purse went missing which contained the money for the weekly food. I was given the grand sum of 25 shillings to replace it. When it was the funeral she had placed over her coffin the Union Flag as she was a victim of the bombing.
I could write much more but it is now all in the past now. Finally, I must tell you that I am living in a block of Flats right opposite Finsbury Road School that you went to. Of course, it’s a school no longer but for students who are studying Art and Dressmaking as such (well, so I believe).
At the beginning of the war some of the war victims’ names are written in a book which is kept in St. Peter’s Church, Brighton. Every day the Vicar changes a page so that a different name is displayed. It is called ‘The Book of Memories’.
PS. Finsbury Road School is now a Block of Flats.