Southend Timeline

Bringing Your Memories Back to Life

1940

1940 - James Bond Link to Southend - In Andrew Lycett's excellent biography "Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond", he explains that in April 1940 there was a report that Germany was going to attack Southend on Whit Sunday. Fleming and his brother Peter Fleming suggested to their respective chiefs that if such an attack took place it would be exploited by Hitler's propaganda machine. "In order to be sure that a different point of view appeared on the BBC, they suggested that they should be present on the Essex coast to act as official observors...At dusk they joined a naval observation post on the roof of a large hotel (probably the Palace). But as the night wore on, and they received no reports of unusual enemy aircraft movements, they found it increasingly difficult to take the idea of an impending attack seriously. At around one o'clock they roused their driver, who was drunk, and asked to be taken back to London."

Leigh Heroes - Six boats from Leigh took part in the heroic mass evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk on 1st June 1940.  Admiral Ramsey, who as Vice-Admiral Dover, was in command of 'Operation Dynamo' had high praise for the Leigh Cockle Bawley boats - "The conduct of the crews of these cockle boats was exemplary. They were all volunteers who were rushed over to Dunkirk in one day. Probably none of them had been under gunfire before and certainly none of them under Naval discipline. These were Thames estuary fishing boats which never left the estuary and only one of their crews had been further afield than Ramsgate. Yet they maintained perfect formation throughout the day and night and all orders Fishermen of Leigh by you.were obeyed with great diligence even under shellfire and aircraft attack."

This memorial in St Clement's Churchyard is for those who did not return.

Read more about this brave story: Click 

 

 

 

 

An 'Eastend' Writer Born - 18th January saw the arrival into this wworld of a future prolific TV screen writer.  Tony Holland was born. Starting as an actor in shows such as Dr who in the 60's, he will be most noted for his writing work particulalry his contribution to the BBC TV Soap Eastenders, and his knowledge and influence probably brought the programme to Southend many times for filming.  Tony who passed away in 2007, will also be remembered for his work in other TV shows such as Z-Cars and hospital drama Angels.

New Manager - The Shrimpers although not partaking in league football due to the war still appointed a new manager this year.  Harry Warren took the reigns and lasted some 16 years until 1956 where he went on to manage Coventry City.

 

Astoria Changes    The main High Street cinema became the Odeon in 1940.  It was absorbed into Rank Organisation a few years later and today has been turned into the new University of Essex building.        

Bomb Hits School - Southend became the brunt for most bombing raids either during the raids on London or the emptying of the planes holds on the way back to Germany on 8th June 1940, Southend High School for Boys becomes a casualty  as it is hit by a bomb

August, bomb falls on Manners Way, and a German Dornier Bomber crashes on the aerodrome.

Kursaal Kinema Closes - Having provided films since 1904 it was a sad day on 20th July 1940 that the final movie aired at the Kursaal Kinema, once again closed by a war.  This time round the final film was David Niven's 'Bachelor Mother' also starring Ginger Rogers.  A cinema never returned to the Kursaal after this war. 

 

 

 

 

Robert Lloyd, Opera Singer Born - in Southend in 1940 and educated at Oxford University. He began life as an academic historian, turning to a singing career at the age of 28. In 1972 he was appointed Principal Bass at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he sings an enormous repertoire. At the same time, he has developed a freelance operatic and concert career which has brought him to work with all the major Opera Houses and Orchestras throughout the world. In the 1991 New Years Honours List Robert Lloyd was created a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by her Majesty the Queen.  

Blocks Mounted - To thwart the threat of German invasion a string of 1,804 anti tank blocks were placWar Defences by you.ed along the full length of Southend Seafront.  By 1946 most of them had been removed, but 2 remained, 500 yards east of the Kursaal, orginally just across from the gasworks. They remain now as a commemoration of World War Two and official plaques have now been mounte on them to let today's seaside visitors understand there significance.

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