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Disappearing Lewes - Lewes at War

Last year part of the Grange Gardens was roped off from kids eating ice cream while engineers checked on the condition of an unexploded 50 Kg bomb dropped by a German plane in 1940 and was never recovered from where it buried itself. Of course Lewes was never a primary target, but that makes the few attacks on the town in World War II all the more surreal. Photo of the Week in the last issue of VivaLewes was a beautiful shot over the Paddock, looking northwest to the leafy hills and the big houses on the other side of the park. Now imagine eight Messerschmitt 109s appearing at roof top height and flying straight into the camera at 350 mph. During the 30 seconds they were in town on the 20th of January 1943, the planes killed two people and injured 44 others. They destroyed 15 buildings and forced another 70 to be evacuated.

Lenard Buikle stayed longer. He was delivering mail to German troops in occupied Jersey when his Gotha 145 biplane became lost and he was forced to land on the racecourse above the prison. He was met by a County Surveyor in a Home Guard uniform holding a shotgun and his plane was soon surrounded by curious spectators. His was one of 46 planes that came down around Lewes.

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North Street after a bombing raid in 1943. A picture from RA Ellistonís
Lewes at War