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Bomb in Roberts Street

Roberts Street after the bombing Roberts Street after the bombing
The devastation in Roberts Street after the bombing

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 22nd November 1940, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Houses Damaged In East Midlands - Night Bomb Also Affects School and Shop Premises

Small Death Roll

A small East Midlands town had its first serious night alarm on Tuesday night, when a single bomb of heavy type caused typical blast damage to a large number of houses and shops in several streets, also putting a large elementary school temporarily out of commission. There were casualties among people sheltering in their homes, and a small death roll has resulted.

More than three hours after the sounding of the “Alert” the bomb whistled down and was heard during its descent by A.R.P. workers and others in the streets, who threw themselves down or ran under cover. It exploded in back gardens between two streets, and the four nearest houses – part of a long, uniform row of working-class dwellings – were almost wrecked. It was in this street that the principal casualties occurred, hardly a house escaping damage to roofs, windows or ceilings.

A voluntary air raid warden had gone out on duty and almost collapsed on hearing that his wife and daughter had been killed in a downstairs room of their home.

Mr. Bailey, who suffers from paralysis, was rescued unhurt from the wreckage of his bedroom, and in another house the tenant was slightly injured, his elderly father, a widower, was killed, and his wife and son were so severely hurt that they were removed to the county hospital.

Aid for Sufferers

Many windows were broken in the main shopping street a considerable distance from the explosion, and the school affected has great numbers of windows and tiles broken or dislodged.

A small commercial building had its roof lights shattered. The public services such as water and gas suffered remarkably little damage.

The town’s A.R.P. services and police staff dealt splendidly with the situation, many working throughout the night. From the first-aid post about nine casualties were transported to hospital, where the death of a woman occurred on Wednesday.

During the night a small hall in the neighbourhood was furnished with camp beds and staffed by the W.V.S. as a refuge for families whose homes were untenable. Several people accepted this help with gratitude, but a larger number had already been received into private homes. Meals were served at the hall, and in the morning welfare and billeting officers were making new arrangements for the temporarily homeless people. In the affected streets there was a great demand for tarpaulins to cover holes in roofs, and salvaged furniture was being moved away on all sorts of hand trucks. A dead canary in its cage was among the litter in one of the houses.

Praise for A.R.P.

“I cannot describe it – everything happened at once,” is typical of the accounts given by residents of the neighbourhood, who all spoke in high terms of the swift and thorough work of the A.R.P. men and women.


The Rushden Echo and Argus, 29th November 1940, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Mrs. and Miss Elmer, Rushden

A sad double bereavement has befallen Mr. Charles Elmer, a Rushden A.R.P. worker, the burial of whose wife and daughter took place at the Rushden cemetery on Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Elmer is employed at the Manton-road boot works of Messrs. John White, Ltd. His wife, Mrs. Harriett Elizabeth Elmer, was 53 years of age and had lived in Rushden all her life, working at Messrs. John White’s Park-place factory.

The daughter, Miss Betty Elmer, aged 15 worked for Messrs. William Green and Son, and was much esteemed at the Park-road Methodist Church, taking part in the work there as a Girls’ Brigade and Girls’ League member, Sunday School teacher and chorister.

At the funeral service in the Methodist Church the Rev. A. Binney expressed the general sympathy that has been felt for Mr. Elmer. Mr. A. Hazeldine was at the organ.

The family mourners in relationship to Mrs. Elmer were Mr. C. Elmer (widower), Mrs. A. D. Bunker (daughter), Mr. C. K. Elmer (son), Mr. H. Bunker (son-in-law), Mr. T. Marks and Mrs. J. Marks (brother and sister-in-law), Mr. W. Marks and Mr. C. Marks (brothers), Mr. F. Elmer and Miss T. Marks (brother-in-law and sister-in-law), Mr. S. Elmer and Mrs. E. Parker (brother-in-law and sister-in-law), Mrs. E. Elmer and Mrs. E. Church (sisters-in-law), Mrs. F. Shrives and Mrs. W. Marks (sisters-in-law), Miss Marks and Mrs. Hodgkins (sister-in-law and cousin).

The many friends who attended the funeral included Councillor J. Allen, J.P. (Chairman of Rushden Urban Council), Mr. John W. Cooke (Methodist choirmaster), Mr. A. G. Larkinson (morning leader of the Sunday School), Miss Frances Bayes and Miss P. Waite (Girls’ Brigade), Ald. C. W. Horrell, J.P., C.A., and Mr. S. E. Lawman (Methodist Church), Councillor W. E. Capon (general superintendent of the Sunday School), Mr. L. W. Bradshaw, Mr. W. Walker and Mrs. O. Kilsby (Messrs. John White Ltd.), Miss Jean Spencer (Impregnable Sports Club), and Mr. C. W. S. Green (Messrs. William Green and Son).

The beautiful floral tributes were inscribed:-

In loving memory of my dear wife and daughter, from Dad and Cliff; To dear Mum and Betty, from Bert, Audrey and Joan; To both our dear ones from broken-hearted Mum and Sis – Two of the dearest, two of the best, now in God’s keeping safely at rest; In loving memory of our dear sister and niece, from Bill, Esther and Philip; Loving memories of dear Harriett and Betty, from Tom and Lizzie, Irthlingborough; In loving memory of my dear sister and niece, from Aunt Gladys, Fred, Colin and Fred; To dear Harriett and Bet, from all cousins, Sartoris-road – Resting where no shadows fall; Some day we’ll understand – From Mrs. White, Evelyn and family, Ireland; With deepest sympathy from John White; in loving memory of Aunt Harriett and Betty, from Ede, Fred and family; Deepest sympathy from Em, Horace and family, from Wymington, to Bet, and Harriett –R.I.P.; With all our love and deepest sympathy to dear Harriett and Bet., from Jul. Bert and Kath and Dos.; With deepest sympathy, from the Lime-street closers; In Loving memory of Betty, from Grace – Good-night, dear friend, until we meet again; With deepest sympathy from the neighbours; a taken of deepest sympathy from the directors of William Green and Son; We shall miss you, Betty, but will meet you again – From Gerry, Marge, Gwen, Margaret and Doreen; With heartfelt sympathy from Uncle Frank, Auntie Epp, Reg and Bessie – Asleep in God’s beautiful garden, in sunshine and in peace; With deepest sympathy and regret to Betty, from all fellow workers at William Green and Son (Grenson), Ltd.; In loving memory of Mrs. Elmer and Betty, from Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Savage, 18 Milton-street, Higham Ferrers; In sad but sweet remembrance from Mabel, Mrs. Ingram and Mrs. Minney; Deepest sympathy from Helen Tebbutt; Happy memories of Betty, from the Park-road Methodist Church; With loving thoughts and sincere sympathy from the Park-road Methodist Sunday School; Deepest sympathy from the Impregnable Sports Committee; In remembrance of happy hours, from Ivy, Frances and Jean; With deepest regrets from Denny, R.A.F., Notts.; Deepest sympathy, Newton-road Department, John White (Impregnable Boots), Ltd.; Deepest sympathy, Shirley-road Closing Department; Deepest sympathy, Mr. and Mrs. Bunker and family; Happy memories from Mrs. Elstow and Marjorie; To Mrs. Elmer with deepest sympathy from all the girls in Park-place Closing Room, Mrs. Kilsby and Mr. Walker; With deepest sympathy from Closing Room, Higham Ferrers (Nene Valley Co., Ltd.); Deepest sympathy from Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence, Higham Ferrers; In loving remembrance to our dear friends, from Mr. and Mrs. Hume and Henry, Higham Ferrers; Deepest sympathy, C.W.S. Finishing Department; Deepest sympathy, Ted and Ede, cousins; In loving memory of Aunt Harriett and Betty, from Alice and Albert; With deep sympathy and kind remembrance of Betty, from the headmaster and staff, Newton-road Mixed School; With heartfelt sympathy from the neighbours; In loving memory of Betty, from the officers and girls of the Methodist Girls’ Brigade – Faithful in service; With deepest sympathy, from Elsie and Billy, Sartoris-road; With deepest sympathy from Ivy, Francis, Jean; In loving memory and with deepest sympathy from Sam, Sis and Horace, Edie and Geoff – They rest from their labours; Deepest love and sympathy from Ida and Son – O teach us from our hearts to say, “Thy will be done”; With deepest sympathy from Mr. and Mrs. Abbott, “Unicorn”; In memory of happy times together, Mr. and Mrs. L. Beeby, Joyce and Eileen and Bryan, Higham Ferrers; In loving memory of dear Harriett and Betty, from Aunt Clara and Uncle Ted and family, Northampton.

The Co-operative Federal Funeral Service made the arrangements.


This V sign and the morse code dots below, remain visible on a wall in the street. Probably painted for 'Victory' celebrations which was probably a street party.
V sign on a wall

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