Photograph of bomb-damaged properties, Queen Square, Bath, 1942 (ref. PX602/165) Show image info

Bomb-damage to properties in Queen Square, Bath, 1942 (ref. PX602/165)

A letter from the Bath Blitz

The Record Office has recently been given a fascinating letter describing the ‘Bath Blitz’. It was written by Mrs Mabel Beevers to her sister, Anne, at the beginning of May 1942, shortly after the bombing raids on Bath which took place on the nights of the 25 and 26 April.

At the time, the Beevers family were living at Ormonde Lodge, Sion Hill, and Mabel was pregnant, expecting her fifth child. After the raids she moved to Pontypridd in South Wales for safety, and it was from here that the letter was written. Her son was born shortly afterwards, in Pontypridd.

The letter gives us a very personal view of the ‘Bath Blitz’, two nights of heavy and completely unexpected bombing of the historic city. Over 400 people were killed, and a huge amount of damage caused to buildings. Interestingly, Sion Hill was not one of the areas of serious damage – although the letter suggests that houses there were reduced to rubble, the bomb damage maps held by the Record Office show only ‘general damage - slight’

Read a transcript of the letter.

The letter has been transcribed exactly as it is written, with occasional spelling and punctuation errors. One of her sons, in a note to his transcription of the letter, makes the following comment:

‘Mother left Bath for Pontypridd soon after the bombing and her account of events may have been influenced by terrible worries……She was heavily pregnant at the age of 48 at a time when the chances of stillbirth or major obstetrical morbidity (or even mortality) were high by modern standards. Her state of mind may explain the spelling mistakes which were not characteristic of her.’

The main interest of the letter is its account of the bombing, but it helps to know a little about some of the people mentioned: Charles was Mabel’s husband, John and Pauline were her elder children, aged 13 and 17 respectively and Dilys was the family nanny. Mary Middlemas was the family doctor, and Captain Hopkins was a neighbour, living at Ormonde House.