Mabel’s wartime words reveal Norwich Blitz terror

A letter written by a Norwich woman to her sister following the first Blitz raid in April 1942 is published for the first time.

Today this page is given over to a letter written by Mabel Tasker of Stannard Road, Norwich, to her sister following the first Baedeker raid in April 1942.

She had been at home with her daughter Joan, mother Florence Parke plus Donnie the dog while her husband Herbert was out fire watching.

My Dear Ethel,

I feel duty bound to write and let you know that we are safe and sound and also Ern and Pat.

But we had a terrifying time last night and do not want to experience the same again. We hope we will not get it tonight.

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Poor old Bath had it twice.

Hundreds of people have lost their homes and thousands of windows are blown out in Norwich and not only on this Earlham Estate but several districts.

We had bombs, guns, machine gunning and planes all roaring over us and dive-bombing and whistling bombs and planes for over one and a half hours.

Every minute we felt was going to be our last.

We stayed in the living room because we did not know if granny could even get through the shelter door and also not having used the shelter for about 18 months it was dusty and cobwebby.

That's altered now though. After seeing our houses, whole streets of them and the state they are in today I have cleaned out the shelter and we have let granny try to she can get in and out of the shelter so if we get the blitz tonight we shall go down there.

Our street came off lightly and we have to thank God for being spared. Our houses shook several times but we only suffered minor ills such as:

Our chimney was swept and the hearth and rug smothered with soot, the front and back door locks gave away and all the time our front door was banging, Joan's bedroom windows smashed, and the landing trap door tipped open and the landing smothered with dry mortar.

Granny got under the table, Joan in a corner and I lay behind the couch.

When it was over there was not water to be obtained from any tap. We went back to bed but the siren sounded again so we came down and this time nothing happened so I managed to clear up the soot a bit.

Fires were blazing in several places especially from Henderson Road and from Bowthorpe Institution. We went to bed about 4am. I had about three hours sleep. Daddy came home from his night watching safely.

After seeing the houses damaged it is wonderful the casualties are not higher.

This afternoon I had to go and have a look at my tenant's home as she is away staying with her husband and also the two children. The house was alright bar three big panes of window glass smashed. Herbert and I are going down tomorrow morning to nail some sacking and wood across.

All the streets of houses all around Earlham and Dereham Road are severely damaged and they say Drayton and Mile Cross estates are worse than ours.

Half the houses in Elizabeth Fry Road are ruined and also Bacon Road behind the library.

That block of red-bricked houses (five) at the top of The Avenues are all down except the two at either end which are just skeletons.

The glass in the shop windows at Colman Road shops has all gone and you know what large windows they were.

There has been such a wind all day – almost a gale – and the dust has been flying about.

Our water has been off all day around our way but there was a supply in the road near here where everyone has filled up jugs and buckets.

Tonight, however, the water is back in the taps again.

The day after the letter was posted – the bombers returned to cause more death and destruction.

Thanks to Mabel's daughter Kate Moore, of Norwich, who gave me a copy of this letter she has kept for all these years.