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Bombs fall at St Johns


In her book Still Looking Back (Odibourne Press, 1987), the late Eileen Tisdale dedicated a dozen or so pages to her, and her husband’s memories of war-time Kenilworth. Included is this account of an attack apparently soon after the Coventry Blitz:

“With Coventry station bombed and temporarily out of action, rail traffic was diverted via Berkswell on to the loop-line to Kenilworth and Leamington. The Germans seemed to be aware of this and, in an attempt to break the link, dropped a ‘stick’ of bombs on Kenilworth which fell in a line from an old house adjoining St John’s Cricket Club ground to Hibbert’s Farm just across the railway line from St John’s Church and perilously near the First Aid Post there. Casualties:- one cow in a field near the farm and some very shaken personnel in the First Aid Post!”

If Eileen has correctly recalled this event as being while the railway line through Coventry was closed, this bombing would have happened just a few days before the Abbey End land mine was dropped; it took, remarkably, only four or five days for the railway through Coventry to be reopened

The intended target here does indeed appear to be the railway line, and the bridge over it would seem to be at the centre of the bombs that fell. Damaging the bridge would have disrupted the railway of course, but also the main roads south to both Leamington and Warwick.

St Johns Church did sustain damage during the war and it can be safely assumed that this was the attack that caused it. The Kenilworth Weekly News of August 29th 1952 reported on a steeplejack fixing ladders to the spire in preparation of repairs taking place. The Rev. Archer explained that deterioration had taken place and “The spire had suffered some shrapnel damage during the war when crosses were blown from the side aisle of the church by enemy air activity.”

A later edition reported upon the repairs and added “War-damaged windows are receiving attention, and one stained-glass pane has had to be removed for specialist treatment”