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Whistable at War - Whitstable in World WarII

Air Strikes




Bombs were not the only danger to our town. There were odd occasions when a German aircraft dipped down to strafe targets. Somehow, this made attacks a little more personal. One such scurry intentionally ended the working life of one of the town's oyster vessels but inadvertently gave Whitstable on of its best loved "museum" pieces....


The oyster smack "Favourite" was left at her mooring at the start of the war but she was strafed by a German fighter plane one Sunday morning. That was when she was beached after sinking. 

John Harman
British Columbia


The Favourite was later moved to a location between houses in Island Wall where she has served as an outdoor museum piece for 60 years Ravaged by time and weather, she is now being restored by The Favourite Trust. 



Face of the Enemy....


Strafing a moored boat is one thing. However, a personal sighting of an enemy airman was potentially more frightening.... but not for a hardy youngster as Brian Smith explains.... 


One beautiful sunny morning, Mum & I were walking up from Pye Alley towards the top of the hill by Court Lees to visit my Great Grandparents in Iron Cottages near the old red Lion Pub in Blean. Looking along Bogshole valley towards Herne Bay, we saw an ominous looking black plane veer slightly towards Herne Bay. We could just see a few bombs dropping but the terrain hid their explosions from sight. The bomber then flew low along the line of the valley but veered off towards Whitstable probably following the old Canterbury and Whitstable railway.

We heard a few dull ‘cerumps’ – bombs again – before the bomber, a Junkers 88 appeared low over the top of Clapham Hill on its way to Canterbury. We tried to hide in a ditch but could clearly see the front gunner looking down at us. I won’t say he waved but, at least, he didn’t try to frighten us by pointing his guns our way. 

I was quite excited at being able to see the German airman and have no recollection of being afraid. We thought we heard explosions in Canterbury. 

Some years ago, I did read of the events we had witnessed. The account confirmed that bombs were dropped on Herne Bay, Whitstable and Canterbury and raised the same question which had been in our minds. Why was an enemy bomber left to so freely swan around for about 15 minutes on a clear sunny day casually touring East Kent, selecting targets at random without a single fighter rising to challenge it?

On another such walk, I could, and did, see the Stuka dive bombers attacking Dover some 15 miles away. I still shudder at the sound of the Stukas’ sirens whenever I see them on film.

Brian Smith
Hoppers Crossing


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