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Harbour bombing lives on in victim’s son’s mind

News | Published:

A MAN who saw the German bombing raid on the harbour 80 years ago believes it was an act of retaliation.

Tony Hobbs alongside the memorial at the White Rock to the 34 people killed on 28 June 1940. Thirty-three of them died there, but his father, Harold was on Guernsey’s relief lifeboat which had been taken to Jersey to escape the clutches of the Germans. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28427784)

A total of 33 people were killed at the White Rock on 28 June 1940.

A 34th person, Harold Hobbs, died in St Aubin’s Bay, Jersey. He was a member of the crew that had taken Guernsey’s relief lifeboat, Victoria, to Jersey, to keep it out of German hands. There they came under attack from German aircraft and he was killed by a machine gun bullet.

The names of all 34 victims are on the memorial tablet at The White Rock.

Mr Hobbs’ son, Tony, 83, believes he knows why the Germans bombed Guernsey’s harbour.

Following the death of his father he was brought up by his grandfather, Clarrie Young, who was a docker working there on that fateful day.

‘He told me many times how he had been helping to load a boat with passengers and cargo when they heard the rumble of aircraft approaching,’ said Mr Hobbs.

Two young men who were on the vessel, which was moored against the New Jetty on the Herm side, readied a pom-pom naval gun.

‘My grandfather, who was on the jetty, told one of them not to fire as he said the pilots would retaliate, but he ignored him,’ said Mr Hobbs.

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‘He said the lad was about 18. My grandfather said the pilots must have known that the island had been demilitarized because they were flying so low.

‘The lad fired at the aircraft, bringing one of them down, and the bombing started,’ said Mr Hobbs.

If the pilots had not been intending to bomb the harbour before they were fired at, Mr Hobbs said he did not know why they would have been there in the first place.

He and his family were living in a flat at Salerie Corner at the time. He recalled seeing sheds on the Cambridge Berth flying into the air and things burning.

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Two horse-drawn carriages went past in the road outside. There was nobody on them as the terrified animals galloped towards St Sampson’s as fast as they could.

Following the raid, Mr Hobbs recalled his grandfather being brought to the flat with blood streaming from a cut between the eyes.

‘A piece of flying granite had torn through the bridge of his nose but it had somehow managed to miss his eyes,’ he said.

Though he was very young at the time, Mr Hobbs believes it was the horror of that day that left him with such vivid memories.

‘I might not be able to remember something that happened two years ago but I’ll never forget the harbour bombing,’ he said.

Nigel Baudains

By Nigel Baudains
News reporter

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