17th MAY 1942: Four Focke-Wolf bombers launched a Sunday morning attack on Folkestone perhaps echoing the shock value of the
Sunday morning Pearl Harbour attack six months before. Carrying a 500 kilo bomb each they skimmed the waves, determinedly
avoiding the radar, in a so called tip at at the front by arriving really early. Mrs Vera Ansellwas the verger and got there
in time to organised the setting out of the flowers and hymnbooks for the main
Sunday Service. Mrs Louisa Pearn was helping her that day. On The Leas, three ranks of soldiers, obliged in those times to
go to church on Sunday in their entirety were forming up for a morale boosting Church Parade, a short march to Christ Church.
The first 500 kilo bomb hit the church whilst the observation post on East Cliff was still phoning the RAF Station for air
cover. You can see now that nothing was left intact apart from the tower with its didactic but appropriate Victorian motto.
Miss Thompson died, as they say, instantly. Mrs Ansell, 47, died later at the Royal Vic. Mrs Pearn survived. The gardens,
as most Folkestonians know are now the focus of our Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Holy Trinity Church up the Sandgate Road had been closed for the duration of the war, and might have become permanently surplus
to requirements, but ironically had to be reopened and is still well used.
Of the three other bombs, a type which could bounce on hard ground until it exploded, one went through The Grand and exploded
in the road next to the Metropole, one destroyed 57 Bouverie Road West, and the fourth bounced once right over Balfour Court
in Sandgate Road, once over Plain Road and once in Bouverie Road West before destroying three houses in Godwyn Gardens.
Visiting the wide crescent of Clifton Crescent you can see the elegant curve interrupted intentionally so that Holy Trinity
Church could be seen from The Leas. You can also see the ultimate monstrosity at the west end of Clifton Crescent where again
a 1970s block of flats is precisely balanced(!) with a pretty Dutch-gabled 1870s house. Worth a photograph as how not to do
it. This was built before the area was declared a conservation area and hopefully would not happen now, but developers will
always try it on. Again, showing what a battering the town had , the wide curved green was the site of Folkestones main battery
during the Second World War, Four 5.5in naval guns originally on the battleship HMS Hood all faced out to sea from 1940 specifically
to protect against German naval invasion. In fact Hitlers invasion plans known as Operation Sea Lion, had the 17th Infantry
Division landing on Princes Parade in Seabrook and punching around to capture Folkestone Harbour as a priority. So the Hotel
Imperial could have been the first major British building in Nazi hands. Other divisions were to land on beaches strung out
westwards such as Cooden Beach near Hastings. Tragically the battery became a major target. There was a concrete command post
on the green at the west end of Clifton Crescent and in 1941 five workmen taking shelter from an air-raid were killed by a
direct hit on the post. They might have survived if the concrete strengthening they were building had dried. The end of Clifton
Crescent was demolished, so in a sense the seventies monstrosity is their only memorial.