The tragic story behind Mary’s Garden.

At 5 am on Sunday morning, April 26th, 1942, 31 men, women and children were huddled together in a public air raid shelter at Roseberry Road in Twerton.

Above them enemy bombers were laying waste to the city during the second of three raids that brought death and destruction to Bath.

 

It was at that moment that a large 500 kg bomb scored a direct hit on their place of refuge – and  only three of those inside survived.

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Chris’s photo of the wartime damage.

Other nearby bombs had also devastated this residential area which is now being redeveloped.

Sanctus – the company undertaking the original clearance work, uncovered shrapnel from the attack and other objects from the houses that had stood there.

Their finds also included a large fragment from the bomb that had killed so many civilians who sheltered there.

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Chris Kilminster with an army cadet from King Edward’s School and navy cadets from Haysfield School.

One man who has been following all of this  – and has now played a major role in getting a proper memorial unveiled on the site – is Chris Kilminster. His mother survived the blast – though she lost all her family and a leg.

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Part of the new memorial.

Chris was born of a second marriage but – having been told everything about the tragedy – has spent the last fifty years both becoming an expert on Bath at war but also always hoping he could get a lasting memorial installed somewhere neat the wartime blast.

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Today’s Memorial Dedication Service.

Thanks to Legal and general of London, R.G.B. of Shrewsbury and Deeley Freed of Bristol there IS now a memorial garden named after Chris’s sister Mary who so cruelly lost her seven year old life.

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Standard bearers from the Royal British Legion lions up with Army Cadets from King Edward’s School.

Standard bearers from the Royal British Legion – and army and navy cadets from King Edward’s School and Haysfield School – helped Chris with this morning’s ceremony – which was also attended by the Deputy Mayor of Bath Cllr Manda Rigby and the Leader of B&NES Council Cllr Dine Romero.

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The Deputy Mayor of Bath, Cllr Manda Rigby and the Leader of B&NES Council, Cllr Dine Romero are seated amongst guests.

A service of dedication was lead by the Rev Caroline O’Neill, Chaplain of King Edward’s School, and the ground consecrated with water from the springs running in the gardens of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

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The Rev Caroline O’Neill sprinkling Holy Water on the consecrated site.

I spoke to Chris before the ceremony began.

 

 

 

In total 417 people lost their lives in the city as a result of the bombing raids. Chris wants this memorial to commemorate all of them and – indeed – to stand as witness to all those -everywhere in the world – who are innocent victims of war.

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The note on Chris’s pad says it all. His job is now done!