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A very strange tale

This photograph shows the actual extensive damage and destruction of 6 houses in September 1940. This was taken just a couple of days afterwards from almost the same position as the photograph of my father, sister and I, as we stood beside the Little Globe. After the site was cleared an underground air-raid shelter was built and the rest of the area became an informal playground for the local children.

Truth is stranger than fiction!
The above however is not the end of the story about the bomb, for some 10 years later, in early 1950, there was a developement that proves the point about the truth being stranger than fiction. One day a man had to go up into the loft space of one of the houses opposite to the bomb site.  To his horror he discovered a mummified left lower arm and hand with a very unusual ring on one of the fingers. This was reported to the police and after a good deal of publicity a lady came forward from Switzerland who identified the ring as belonging to a lady who had lived in one of the bombed houses. In fact this lady’s body had never been recovered. It appeared that sadly she had literally been blown to bits, and her arm and hand had been blown through the roof tiles of the house across the road. Probably at the time the roof was simply repaired with out any thought of anything having gone into the loft space.

Bomb damage in White Street in 1940
From a private collection

Comments about this page

  • Interesting story. Can you tell me what number the arm was found in? We live on White Street – wondered if it was our house! Thanks

    By Joanna Sharpe (31/01/2007)
  • Joanna, Have only just seen you question. It was at number 9 and the full story can be read in a small book by David Rowland called ‘Coastal Blitz’. It was published in 2001 by S.B. Publications, 19 Grove Road, Seaford BN25 1TP. They are probably in the phone book and might still have copies or could put you in touch with David. If you do so please give him my regards. Also have a look at an earlier picture taken from the same position before the bomb dropped. By the way the ISBN of the book is: 185770 194 1

    By Ken Ross (30/01/2008)
  • I was born in White Street as my grandmother lived at number 40. Its only been in recent years that my family talked about the bombing. My grandma’s name was Mary Smith (Polly).

    By Marian Gregson (11/10/2013)
  • To Marian Gregson was your mothe’rs name Sylvia or was she your sister? We all used to play on the bomb site, there used to be a June Martin and a Margaret Crighton and Alan Winter who lived in White Street during the 40s and 50s.

    By Ken Ross (13/10/2013)
  • Ken Ross, Sylvia is my aunt who now lives in Australia. There were five girls my mum being Joan. Then Mary, Pat and Shirley.

    By Marian Gregson (04/02/2014)
  • Hi Ken, if you look on Google Streetview – perhaps you already have – you will see that houses have long since been rebuilt on the site. It is hard to tell them apart from the others in the street (Joke!).

    By Alan Hobden (05/02/2014)
  • To Marian Gregson, please say hi to your aunt for me. My father was the landlord of the Little Globe in Edward Street, just across the road from the bottom of White Street, not sure if Sylvia will remember me. There was a David Baker who also lived in White Street. I did not go to school local but went to Montpelier College near the seven dials. But we all used to play together in the street, no cars around there. I have lived in Buckinghamshire for many years and miss the sea terribly. I have two daughters and five grandchildren. Just to ask again do let your Sylvia know I said hi.

    If you want to get in touch again ask the web site people to send me and e-mail with your e-mail as I prefer not to give out my e-mail generally via these pages. Regards, Ken.

    By Ken Ross (05/02/2014)
  • Would like permission to send this to my aunt who was born there.

    By Marian Gregson (09/02/2014)
  • To Alan Hobden, can I suggest you have a look at the other White Street entries on this website. I have included the picture of White Street as it was before the parachute mine hit the houses and commented on the fact that many people might wonder why those 6 houses now are so different to the others in the street. The picture I included is of my father sister and I earlier in 1940 standing beside the Little Globe public house.

    To Marian, you do not need permission to send this to Sylvia just get her go to My Brighton and Hove website. Ken

    By Ken Ross (09/02/2014)
  • Hello Ken. Many thanks for pointing me towards your other article about White Street, and the other photo. I found it all very interesting, as I am sure many other readers will too. Regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (05/12/2014)
  • I have a feeling this was my 3rd great grandmother. Her name was Annie Sophia Wood and she was killed in a bomb in September 1940. The only way they truly identified her was due her severed arm being discovered and a ring being left on one of her fingers. Would love to know if this is her.

    By Gabrielle Mitchell (21/07/2018)
  • I lived at number 42 White Street next to Mrs Smith and her 5 girls. My mum and dad where Ivy and Vic Wilkinson . I was born just after the war but my mum told me all about the bomb going off. There was an article in the paper at the time about her having to go and rescue her canary.

    By Joy Harmer (23/04/2019)
  • Marion Gregson, lived in Coldean. The Parsloe family just 4 doors away,only me now, 5 brothersyoung brother worked for your brother in building trade.

    By shirley ROSITA ROLPH (23/11/2021)

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