A MORAY COMMUNITY is preparing to remember those who lost their lives on the night a German JU88 dropped four bombs on their town, killing four residents and injuring several more.
It was on the night of July 11, 1941 when the bomber flew over Lossiemouth in what was thought to have been an attack on the RAF base – but missed by some way, instead destroying three homes in the town and damaging several more.
The first home to be struck was on 56 Kinneddar Street – fortunately all four occupants survived, Doug and Billy Soutar unhurt while their parents suffered from cuts from glass fragments.
A second bomb, however, killing all four occupants at 6 Dunbar Street – a Mr and Mrs John Wilson and their guests, Mr and Mrs Joseph Leighton. The Leighton’s had moved from Portsmouth after their home there had been bombed, settling in Lossiemouth where their daughter was married to an RAF Officer stationed at the base.
Donny Stewart is a local historian with several books and films depicting the history of the town to his name – and that night in 1941 remains firm in his memory, although he was just a young child at the time.
“We all went up there to have a look and see the impact of the bombs,” he said, adding: “I remember picking up bits of shrapnel. I was in Union Street when the bombs dropped on Dunbar Street.”
A third bomb landed on a pavement in King Street at the corner with Prospect Terrace while the fourth fell harmlessly on a nearby quarry. Donny said that he had not heard anything on the night when the bombs fell, saying: “We just thought this was what war was about – people getting bombed!”
Several community groups are planning to join a short ceremony to mark the anniversary in the town, with a spokesman for the Lossiemouth Community Development Trust saying: “We are grateful to Donny for reminding us that while the planning for the future of our community is important, so is looking back on the happy and sad times we have experienced over the years.
“The bombing of our town that night and the very sad loss of life that resulted will be remembered when Trust members join others in a tribute on the 75th anniversary of that sad day.”
A fund was created to help any further victims of bombs in the Moray town – however, thankfully, there were none and part of the funds raised was used to pay for a plaque to be added to the town’s war memorial.
Karen Cox, chair of Team Lossiemouth RAFBF only recently moved into a home in the area affected by the events of 1941. She said: “We often think of casualties of WWII as being Armed Forces personnel far from home, on foreign soil or people living in the big cities in England.
“We do so much to pay our respects to our fallen heroes, so I think it is fitting that we take time remember the innocent lives tragically lost, especially those so local and connected to us through our community.”
Last night local councillor John Cowe said that it would be “right and fitting” to mark the anniversary of the event. He commented: “I remember my parents telling me about this – my father was home on leave from the Navy and my mother was working in Winchester nursing home in Elgin.
“They were nearby what is now the Group Captain’s home, saw the plane and heard the bombs explode. Lossiemouth has a history of military presence both with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force and they are very much part of our community.
“Who would have thought that this would happen here in Lossiemouth – but it is right and fitting that we remember those who lost their lives in our community, not just in times of conflict but always.”