Part 05: Brighton bombing, 25th May 1943

Extract from the diary of Tony Simmonds
From the private collection of Tony Simmonds

Extract from the diary of Tony Simmonds:

25.5.43 A.M. at about 12.15 Brighton had its worst raid yet, 25 planes came over machine-gunning & bombing. I was having Geography & had to get under the desk – I saw 1 Jerry swoop past our window. I was really scared. One boy went absolutely green. The house opposite was machine gunned. At home Mummy got very scared & went under the shelter – Daddy, walking home, rushed inside a shop after seeing bombs falling out of several planes. Bombs were dropped at: top of Eaton Place, Chichester Place, the other side of the hospital in Eastern Road (about 200 yards from here) which was the worst, Bennet Road (near Whitehawk), St Mark’s School (near the gas works), the gas-works – all our gas went, the flats at Black Rock (where we were on Sunday) & where a soldier on the roof was blown out to sea with his gun, the viaduct in London Road (1 span was destroyed) & that’s about all – oh – Arundel Road caught it & Hove was machine gunned. Evening. I toured around the damage – it was awful. Mrs Brooks house, where Daddy lodged was damaged as well. 2 sirens inc raid. Cool and Wet.

29.5.43 Coming back from town on a 41 trolley-bus, we saw the funeral of the two children who were killed in Down Terrace behind our school. I didn’t mention that place on my list on 25.5.

It was during this raid that the viaduct in London Road was damaged. Tony recalled:
“The rails over the viaduct in London Road I remember so well. After the big raid I remember cycling up there and looking up and seeing these rails overhanging the road where the bomb had actually bounced. It had bounced in Argyle Road, went right over the houses, bounced again and hit the side of the Viaduct. It blew all the bricks away and the rails were just left over there.”

Tony Simmonds was interviewed for the My Brighton and Hove website by Zoe Woods.

Comments about this page

  • About that raid in 1943 – the list of bombs by Tony was very good. But there is one bomb that was never really recorded and that was the one in Maresfield Road, Manor Farm. It dropped right behind the house that we lived in. I was at school at the Intermediate and we were having our traumas there as a friend and myself were shopping in Woolworths and had to get back to school for the air raid shelters. There were bombs dropping and machine gunning going on. When I got home Maresfield Road was roped off. I was 12 at the time and when I got to our house I couldn’t find Mum and Dad; I started to scream. Mum heard me – they were up in the bedrooms trying to salvage some things. There were a couple of funny things happened – apparently my Dad (who was fortunately home on leave) said ‘All we need now is for it to rain’, and of course it did. With no roof and dinner on the floor all mixed up with the glass etc my Dad swore at Hitler. They were trying to get things organised when there was a knock on the backdoor (which was only hanging on its hinges); it was the piano tuner who was partly blind and had come to tune the piano. That day was the only day when my placid Mum lost her temper and cursed Hitler.

    By Pam Patchen (nee Smith) (09/07/2005)
  • When the viaduct over Preston Road was repaired, my grandfather (Alfred Brooker), a steam train driver based in Brighton, volunteered to take the first train over to test the repair of the bridge.

    By Jenny Wilson (27/05/2009)
  • Hi, I’d like to make contact with Tony Simmonds if possible about using some of his diary entries for a book. Please email if you have any information as to his whereabouts, or contact details. Many thanks, Paul

    By Paul Lyons (03/09/2010)
  • My now deceased uncle told the story of his involvement in the Down Terrace bombing that took the lives of the two children (and adults I think) who had been in the shops that have since been rebuilt. Apparently he had dallied with friends and was late coming home from the Intermediate, so that he missed the impact of the bomb, but had to shelter behind a tree as civilians were being machine gunned. My grandmother, at home in Firle Road, was beside herself with anxiety when he failed to return home at the usual time – but fortunately he did! It’s not much of a story now, but shows just how complete people’s involvement with the terror of war was!

    By David Blundell (20/08/2012)
  • I would like to hear from Jenny Wilson as her Grandfather was a great friend of Jack Monet my grandfather, who was also a train driver. The two families were close. Please pass on my e-mail address. [Hello, I am afraid that we are not able to pass on email addresses between contributors. We hope that Jenny sees this message and is happy to add her email address. Comments Ed]

    By A.Fry (02/12/2014)
  • My brother, Billy, was one of the boys killed in the Down Terrace raid, when I was 7 years old. To-day is the anniversary of that happening, and it is a day I shall never, ever forget.

    By Jean Hayler (nee Eatwell) (25/05/2017)
  • I understand that the Lovers Walk railway workshops suffered severe damage in this raid. My Grandparents lived at No.6 Lovers Walk at the time and tell a story of how at the time of the raid they went and hid in a coal shelter under the road behind the cottage when my Nan suddenly realised that she had left the baby (my mother aged 8 months) asleep in the pram out the front of the cottage. They quickly went to retrieve her and made it safely back to the shelter. After the raid had finished they found out that one of the stray bombs aimed at the Railway had directly hit the pram where she was. It certainly makes me feel lucky to be here.

    By Ray Harrington (26/11/2020)
  • I am sure this is the same raid that my mum recalled. Our house was 18 Dyke Rd Drive adjacent to Lovers Walk. My mum and my brother who would have been just 4 years and one month at that date, were in the back garden, mum had no time to get to the shelter and threw herself and Philip under the dining table. I think a bomb or bombs hit the railway sidings above the street and took off most of the roofs in the street but nobody was killed. My dad was away working in a coal mine in Chester-le-Street, Durham, at Chester Moor Colliery, he came home to find the street empty! Mum was rehomed in Springfield Rd nearby but nobody had told my dad!

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (26/11/2020)
  • Tony Simmonds suggested the bomb that hit the viaduct bounced over the houses, in fact the bomb landed on Campbells dairy, travelled on through the lounge window of 2 Argyle Villas out through the back bedroom and hit the underside of the viaduct. I was inside the house aged 2 and although I do not have any memories of it happening, it is well documented as told by my uncle Reg who was also in the house, apart from me and Reg there was also my brother Neville, brother Geoff about 10 days old, my mother and my nan. None of us were injured and were taken in by Mr & Mrs Walmsley in Ditchling Rise. The family never returned to No 2 Argyle Villas which when repaired became the offices of Davey & Son.

    By Colin Wares (25/02/2021)

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