Exhibition: ”One Afternoon in February 1941”

Newmarket Town Council and Newmarket Local History Society invite you to attend an exciting joint project of interest to the whole local community of Newmarket.

This year, on the 6th & 7th February 2020, an initial exhibition about the mysterious events of the bombing story will be held in the Memorial Hall, Newmarket High Street.  We shall also briefly consider life in and around Newmarket at the height of World War II in 1941.

This will also be the first public recognition of the heroic service which a trainee RAF Wellington bomber crew did for Newmarket. They risked their lives to chase off the bomber and prevent a possible second attack on the High Street and the loss of more lives from the RAF base at Newmarket, on the Racecourse, was part of Bomber Command. This narrative was put together from actual eye witness accounts.

Due to wartime secrecy, the whole story of this devastating attack on Newmarket, and the names of the casualties, was shrouded in mystery until Newmarket Local History researched the episode decades later and many unknown and surprising stories came to light, not least the stories of the ordinary townspeople who lost their lives.

This “secret” bombing attack was also significant in the life of our nation. A meeting of senior military personnel was taking place in the Memorial Hall at the time. The bombs did not touch the Hall, falling nearby instead. However, a direct hit could have changed the course of the whole of WWII for Britain.

You are warmly invited to visit this important local history exhibition, with free entry, to learn more about these amazing stories.

Town Mayor, Rachel Hood said: ‘’ At least we are able to understand and commemorate those who lost their lives on 18th February 1941, and the brave actions of the trainee crew of a RAF Wellington bomber which acted effectively to prevent further loss of civilian life, let alone possible saving the life of the military personnel meeting in secret in the Memorial Hall. We have the Local History Society to thank for their meticulous research into this war time event and we would like to record our sincerest thanks to them’’.  

Next year, 2021, is the 80th anniversary of the year that Newmarket High Street was bombed by a lone Nazi bomber in broad daylight, on 18th February 1941, with many civilian casualties.  As these casualties have never been publicly commemorated by name, it is proposed not only to do this but also to place a small memorial to remember them within the town. This will involve a larger commemorative event for the whole community.


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