Council News

Memorial tribute to Hedon’s World War II air raid victims

Spicer family

Spicer family grave Scunthorpe

HEDON TOWN COUNCIL is in discussion with Mr Don Faley in regard to establishing a Memorial dedicated to residents of Hedon, men woman and children who were killed in air raids on the town during the Second World War.

The memorial will list the names of those killed. It will possibly be a small, framed document located within the Town Hall.

Victims of air-raids in Hedon 1939 – 1945:

8th/9th May 1941

Ellen Pricilla Ellerton age 54
Josephine Mary Ellerton age 26
Muriel French age 38
John Richard French age 9
Lucy Jubilee Lear age 44
Ernest John Spicer age 45
Vida May Spicer age 44
Joan Spicer age 22
Delma Spicer age 14
Geoffrey Spicer age 10
Edward Spicer age 6

18th August 1943

David McKie age 56

It is hoped that when all information is collated and agreed, a small ceremony may be arranged to dedicate the memorial.

Thanks to Cllr Jim Lindop for providing the above information.

The Hedon Blog has been gathering some information about the tragic bombing of the Spicer family in 1941: Hedon Wartime Bombing. The picture on this page is from the Spicer family memorial in Scunthorpe.

14 replies »

  1. my father cornelius (con) boam was a policeman in hedon until call up for the navy in 41. I recvall him telling me that that there was an air raid and one of his police colleagues fiancee was found dead among the rubble – that seems to fit in with joan spicer and bob ellerker. my father lodged with amrs pink? sadly he died in 1965 aged 47.

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  2. Mr Jim Uney has sent us this extremely interesting article based on the recollections of his friend Mr Ted Burnham:

    WW2 MAGDALEN ROAD INCIDENTS. By Mr J .R. Uney.

    Mr Ted Burnham, a Hedon resident for a number of years, called to see me recently to tell me what he knew of the events of the Eighth of May 1941 on Magdalen Road, Hedon, when so many lives were lost. Ted was Twelve years old at the time of the sad incident.

    Along with a schoolmate, they cycled from Burstwick to come upon a scene of complete devastation as they grew nearer to Hedon, the one solitary official who was in attendance on the bombed site showed no objection to the boys being there, and encouraged them to try and find the whereabouts of a mewing cat after the boys heard the sounds. Amongst the remnants of the destroyed building they found and handed over the cat to the official who told them that a injured child in hospital had been crying for his Kitten.

    Ted knew Miss Joan Spicer through her being friendly with his parents living in Burstwick, and she often visited along with her boy friend Bob Ellerker, a serving Hedon police officer. Ted also believes that the destruction of the two houses on Magdalen Road was caused by an exploding Land-mine, some of which were made of a alloy outer casing and did not give heavy Shrapnel pieces, but still possessed enormous destructive capabilities. He is also of the opinion that a Land-mine dropped at The Boulevard, Hedon, which failed to explode after being suspended in a tree! he is unaware of the date of this incident and wondered if it was at the same time. Does anyone have information of this please?

    Butterfly Bomb (Sprengbombe Dickwandig) or SD2

    Butterfly Bomb (Sprengbombe Dickwandig) or SD2

    Ted went on to remind me of the Butterfly Bomb incident on August 18th 19-43 when Mr David McKee lost his life on the road close to Magdalen Farm, and gave a more detailed account of the death of Mr Tom Fox a waggoner for Col Robinson, killed by a Butterfly Bomb near the road up to Magdalen Farm, which at the time was managed by Mrs Robinson, her husband Col. Robinson being away serving in the Army.

    Ted’s father – Billy as he was known – was a Threshing Machine Contractor employed by the local farming fraternity to thresh their stacks of the previous seasons cereal crop. In wartime these stacks were built away from being in close proximity to the farmyard and one another to reduce the risk of loss by fire. This was the situation with Mr Fox having to lead a pair of horses taking a wagon load of sheaves from a stack in open fields to the stackyard where the threshing machine was situated.

    Some journeys had sucessfully been walked by Tom, but on one trip, after making way, and moving over from the established track for a returning postman who had been to the farmhouse, he stayed on that line and exploded a hidden Butterfly Bomb. The stackyard workers first knowledge of the accident came about by the return of the pair of horses, one of which was very badly injured. Foreman Jack Ford quickly dashed down the track to find a fatally injured Tom whose reported last words were, “they’ve got me Jack”

    Tom Fox had a brother called George who farmed at Ryehill but Ted was unsure if Tom lived there with him. Ted also believes that the two incidents could be connected, possibly being at the same time and out of the same cannister of anti-personel Butterfly Bombs which killed Mr David McKee; it was stated at the time that the number of Butterfly Bombs accounted for in the Magdalen area did not tally with the number which the authorities believed to be in that type of cannister.

    The Hazardous job of locating Butterfly Bombs fell to members of The Home Guard, ARP, Special Constables, and The Army by walking shoulder to shoulder. Upon finding a bomb it would be marked with a red flag until a specialist team detonated them. Ted tells me of the problems encountered when searching a field of tall standing Wheat, Barley, etc, which was ready for cutting, this was remedied by getting a Tank to tow an unmanned Binder to cut the crop!

    Ted also told me of persistent rumours existing in the area at that time that two locally based army personel had been killed due to detonating a Butterfly Bomb in the Magdalen area, he would welcome confirmation of this from anyone.

    The German attack on Russia in 1941 saw the use of SD2s and SD10s (Butterfly Bomb Types) by The Luftwaffe, but with the armament being so volatile, one Squadron lost 15 aircraft in one single day due to accidents. The last recorded death in England due to a SD2 was in 1956 (11 years after the war ended) when one detonated while being examined by a RAF armaments specialist. Death also has been recorded on the island of Malta as late as 1981, when a 41 year old man died after welding a Butterfly Bomb to a metal pipe and used it as a Mallet.

    Butterfly Bombs were first used on Ipswich in 1940, Grimsby and Cleethorpes were also attacked, using these weapons in June 1943.

    Ted was unaware, but pleased to hear that Mr Jack Spicer had worked at Brooksbanks Haulage as he also worked there from 1963 to 1994 taking abnormal loads with a low loader around the country, including one memorable journey down the narrow lanes of Cornwall that I knew of, as I went on that trip with him.

    Ted still possesses remnants of his Shrapnel collection, found in the days when he was a adventurous, inquisitive 12 year old boy, as he was in 1941.

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    • This is such a fascinating and interesting story!

      I live in one of the ‘replacement’ houses on Magdalen, that were build with war insurance money in 1947.

      Interestingly, my neighbour has the original keystone from Daisy Villa in his garage (I’ll dig out a picture that I took a while ago). Also, our garden has always been rather infested with bits of brick and slate, so I assume left over fragments of the old houses.

      Finally, I bought a book on eBay a few weeks ago, ‘Ten o’Clock Scholars’ by Bob and Margaret Cochrane, that has a full account of the bombing – including the entry from the school roll on the day after the bombing. Well worth a read!

      Cheers,

      James.

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    • Ray, I have now found the answer to a question ,in my article called WW2 Magdalen Road Incidents re the possibility that Mr Mckee and Mr Tom Fox were killed in the Magdalen Road Area of Hedon at the same time,The answer is NO,Mr Mckee’s death was 18th Aug 1943 and Mr Fox Died on the 20th of December 1943.The possibility remains however, that Butterfly Bombs from the same cannister caused both fatalities.

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  3. The Gentleman Killed on the 19th of August was David Mckee, not Mckie, he was the grandfather of my uncle and still has lots of family living in the town, i believe he rode his bike over an unexploded bomb.

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  4. Mr Peter Robson who is involved with Hedon History Society kindly got in touch today and confirmed that Norman was killed in the air raid.

    The night before the raid, Norman had stayed at the Preston home of Peter’s Grandma. Norman was visiting his friend (Peter’s Uncle). Apparently, Norman had been invited to stop another night but opted to go home and so was caught up in the tragedy.

    Peter confirms that Jack Spicer was working that night as a truck driver for a local haulage firm Brookes Banks – during the war heavy haulage travelled by night to prevent becoming targets for enemy aircraft – and so was not at home on the night of the blast.

    Peter says he was in the same school class as Edward Spicer.

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  5. Following Jim Uney’s comments I re-checked the details about the bombing raids over Hull for May 7th – 9th 1941.

    This was the heaviest bombing raid of the war with 1,200 casualties and 420 fatal – 36 of these remain unidentified. Info from A North East Coast Town

    With Norman Spicer’s death (possibly on leave at the house when it was bombed) and with surviving brother Jack’s death in 1943 – then this was one of the worst-ever family tragedies to hit Hedon.

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  6. Jim Uney has sent in the following about this: “Seen the article on Spicer Family and query re Norman, and remember the story from a few years back. I have found the following info tonight on CWGC web site which may bring some help to whoever is trying to sort it out!

    L/C 1872618 Spicer Norman, Royal Engineers, Age 23 years, Death 07/05/1941. Grave CF228 Scunthorpe

    Norman was born in Scunthorpe I believe,Was he possibly at home on leave when this sad wartime tragedy happened. Site gives details of Normans death as the day previous but this could be due to when details were processed I suppose.”

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  7. Thanks for the picture Ray, the photo shows an extra name that of Norman aged 23, I think we need to investigate further, more information is needed as to whether he was killed in the air raid on Hedon

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