August 7th marks a solemn date in our local history. It was the day WW2 came and made its everlasting mark on Bodmin.
On August 7th 1942, a mini blitz took place over Bodmin Town, when two German Focke Wulf 190 aircraft dropped a succession of bombs and cannon fire over the town, hitting the gasworks, a food depot and many family homes.
“Among the fatalities, eight people were from the Sargent family, whose home was wrecked. Few, if any, families in Britain could have been so cruelly hit as the Sargents.”
Nine people in total were killed and eighteen injured. The Retort House at the Gas Works and the food depot in Mill Street were demolished and several houses in Mill Street and Berrycombe Road were destroyed or badly damaged. At about the same time a similar raid took place on the Lizard Peninsula.
This type of attack coined “tip and run” was used in a succession of attacks over a period of days in Cornwall during August. Only the previous evening two “tip and run” raiders (were they the same two?) dropped bombs on St. Breward and Truro. They each dropped a 500 kg bomb on Truro, hitting the hospital; demolishing the south wing, 100 houses and a near miss of the city’s cathedral. And then St Breward a small moorland village on the edge of Bodmin Moor had three people injured, four houses demolished with 60 more damaged along with electricity cables and the De-Lank water works.
Cornwall certainly experienced its fare share of bombs during the Second World War, with raids happening across the county. This particular year of 1942 saw bombings nearly every month from Penzance to Bodmin Moor.
A devastating raid in the early hours of September 27th over Penzance caused the enemy bomber to crash at St. Just-in-Penwith demolishing one house and damaging others. There were some casualties, and the crew who survived were taken prisoner.
October 22nd, saw the last four bombs to fall that year, they fell on Menheniot Station and Quarry during the morning, causing one death, nine other casualties and damage to machinery in the stone quarry, to the railway line and ten dwelling houses. – This was the last air-raid on Cornwall in 1942.