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26 July 2013

23rd July 1943: buried by cinema bombing

23 Fri. Very cool for season; very dull and depressing all day. Did all the usual Friday morning shopping. Miss Dickson is not yet well enough to work so had to set to and clean the downstairs rooms myself. In evening a gentle cycle ride as far as Tolworth Rise. Letter from Fred Fraine saying his sister Phyllis and her husband were in the East Grinstead Cinema that was bombed in daylight. They were cut and bruised and buried for an hour under debris but are recovering now. About 100 people were killed at the time.

Notes on cinema bombing from Wikipedia: East Grinstead, 27 miles south of London,  became a secondary target for German bombers which failed to make their primary target elsewhere. On the afternoon of Friday 9 July 1943, a Luftwaffe bomber became separated from its squadron, followed the main railway line and circled the town twice, then jettisoned seven bombs. Two bombs, one with a delayed-action fuse, fell on the Whitehall Theatre, a cinema on the London Road, where 184 people at the matinĂ©e show were watching a Hopalong Cassidy film before the main feature. A total of 108 people were killed in the raid, including children in the cinema, many of whom were evacuees; and some twenty Canadian servicemen stationed locally, who were either in the cinema when it was hit, or arrived minutes later to help with rescuing survivors. This was the largest loss of life of any single air raid in Sussex.

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