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Whitstable at War - World War II

Bomb Strikes: Incendiary Bombs


This rather different form of bomb also troubled Whitstable. Incendiaries were small and dropped in clusters as John Moore explains.....


Sometime last year, I was looking at some of your photos of Harbour St. and was reminded of a night during the war when Incendiary bombs rained down on Whitstable. They didn’t explode. They just ‘popped’ when they landed and then burst into flames. Every household had a ‘stirrup pump’ to put the fires out. 

We lived in Harbour Place then, (I was about 9 or 10 yrs old) and a few of them landed nearby. A house 3 or 4 doors towards Cromwell Rd had a couple on the roof.  

We also passed some on our way to the shelter in Harbour St. (between the fish shop and the ‘duck your head sweet shop’). There was one in the doorway of the fish and chip shop and one in the doorway of the pub.

In your shot of Harbour St, the shop to the right of ‘Just shoes’ had its window blown out. I recall hearing "grown ups talking" about the arrest of one shop owner after a transmitter was traced to his premises.

Your site has stirred my memory over the years.

John Moore


During the course of the war, Whitstable suffered some damage as a result of incendiaries....


When the sticks of incendiaries fell on Whitstable, the old Spencelys store was hit and afterwards had a salvage sale. 

Mollie Fallon
London - Formerly Whitstable


As John Moore points out, stirrup pumps were distributed to counter the impact of the devices. In our "Military Installations" Chapter, John Harman (Canada) identifies the distribution point. The equipment included specially adapted buckets and they could be collected from the changing rooms at Westmeads recreation ground. It was here that ARP wardens operated a depot. 

Also in our "Military" chapter, Christine Punter (New Zealand) has drawn attention to the fact that special watches were maintained for incendiary devices. Lookouts were deployed at the Castle.

Remarkably we can now take a look at one of the bombs.... thanks to Mark Foreman who has one in his home in Alberta, Canada....


I wonder if John Moore (or anyone else) would remember my Great Grandfather, James William Parker, his wife and my Nan Gladys from the time during the war when they lived at Harbour Cottage, right on the harbour, where my Grandfather was the Harbour Master? 

During the sixties, the footings to the house still stood, as did the entrance to the Anderson shelter in the garden, just to the East of the Upper Gates to the Harbour, next to the Angling Society HQ. 

I have a complete (de-activated!) incendiary bomb that fell on the Harbour into a cement powder pile, and failed to go off! This is shown in my photo below...


 Photo © Mark Foreman


Mark Foreman


Brian Smith ponders the method of delivery of incendiary attacks...


The women of Whitstable no doubt hoped to come across a normal parachute from which they could make some luxury undergarments etc. 

There were a few much smaller parachutes found than those used by unfortunate airmen. As far as I can recall they were about 3 feet wide and were used, so some said, to drop incendiary bombs. 

Why would incendiaries be dropped by parachute? Perhaps those parachutes were used to drop target illuminating flares although in either case there was no sign of burning on any such parachutes I saw. 

They were an excellent ‘trade’ at school although I was never lucky enough to find one.

Brian Smith
Hoppers Crossing


If anyone can elaborate, we would love to hear from you.


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