Service honours those killed during air raid at Brooklands

A MEMORIAL service was held today to mark the 80th anniversary of the air raid that killed 88 people making Wellington bombers at Brooklands.

The service at Brooklands Museum began at 1.15pm, the same time the bombs fell in 1940.

Wellington bombers under construction

The Right Rev Andrew Watson, the Bishop of Guildford, led a commemoration that included a roll call of those who died and a one-minute silence.

It was attended by Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey Michael More-Molyneux, Elmbridge Mayor Mary Sheldon, Brooklands Museum Chairman Sir Gerald Acher and friends and relatives of the 88 people killed.

The memorial service will coincide with the opening of the museum’s Air Raid Shelter Walkthrough Experience, which features the images and voices of the men and women who survived the attack.

The factories at Brooklands Museum made Wellington bombers and Hurricane fighters. For reasons that have never been fully explained, the Luftwaffe air raid in 1940 spared the fighter facilities and was aimed specifically to delay Wellington production.

The approach of 13 Messerschmitt fighter/bombers, escorted by a large number of fighters, was undetected, partly because they had broken away from a much larger force that was attacking other targets in the South East. The RAF plotting system could not cope with the huge number of air raids and so there were no warning sirens at Brooklands.

As a result, most of the factory workers were having lunch in the canteen or at their benches or outside as it was a sunny day. Defences were ineffective or non-existent. More than 60 people were killed instantly, with more than 20 later dying of their injuries.

The attack which lasted three minutes was considered the most devastating raid on any aircraft factory of the Second World War, with more than 400 injured.

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