‘Skiving’ Usherette avoids wartime bombing

ONE wartime winter’s day brought more than just snowfall for Skegness. Bombs also fell.

Joan Emmingham, of Lady Matilda Drive, Winthorpe, experienced the events of January 18, 1941 — the day a German plane offloaded bombs on the resort.

She wants to set the record straight, after a letter in the Standard from a ‘survivor’ which suggested her father. Tower Cinema projectionist Alan Morley, may have died in the strike.

Mrs Emmingham was walking down  Lawn Avenue with her brother towards their Beresford Avenue home when the plane skimmed over the town.

She said: “I was six at the time, and at that age things do not seem frightening. My brother pushed me into the garden and told me to get into the house.

“I can remember the sound of its machine guns as it flew over, and the sight of it. It was so low you could have touched it with a clothes prop.”

The plane offloaded bombs, one of which hit the Tower Cinema, which at the time, Mrs Emmingham said, was showing the new film in the popular comedy series Old Mother Riley.

“Nobody was killed in the cinema,” Mrs Emmingham said, “My father, Alan Morley, was inside at the time doing his job as the projectionist.

“The force of the bomb blew out the plate glass doors at the front, a shard of which hit the owner of the cafe opposite”.

There were two deaths as a result of the bombing. Cafe owner Charles  Hershberg was killed by flying glass and coup Kenrick Morgan died later from injuries received.

But despite the personal tragedy, the event was lightened by the confusions of wartime. One of the usherettes in the Tower, Lill Matts, was missing, and presumed killed in the blast.

Police officers took the sombre journey to her parents? house to inform them of the death.

“She had been skiving off,” said Mrs Emmingham “and she was the one that answered the door when they came round.”

February 2003


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