Victims of the Abbey End landmine explosion remembered once again

The new gravestone in Oaks Cemetery commemorating the unknown victims of the Abbey End landmine explosion. From left to right: Gordon Cain, Cllr Pat Cain, town mayor Richard Davies, town clerk Maggie Field and deputy town clerk Neil Eaton. Photo by Robin Leach
The new gravestone in Oaks Cemetery commemorating the unknown victims of the Abbey End landmine explosion. From left to right: Gordon Cain, Cllr Pat Cain, town mayor Richard Davies, town clerk Maggie Field and deputy town clerk Neil Eaton. Photo by Robin Leach
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Those who died in the landmine explosion which struck Abbey End 76 years ago were remembered once again at two ceremonies this week.

A wreath was laid by the mayor of Kenilworth Cllr Richard Davies at the small memorial in Abbey End on Monday November 21 at 11am, and he did the same at the new gravestone commemorating the unknown victims of the bombings on Tuesday November 22, which is at the cemetery in Oaks Road.

Memorials in Kenilworth commemorating the Abbey End bombings 76 years ago. NNL-161122-195644009

Memorials in Kenilworth commemorating the Abbey End bombings 76 years ago. NNL-161122-195644009

The bombing killed 26 people on November 21, 1940, many of whom were sheltering in Kenilworth from previous bombing raids over Coventry.

Only a small amount of people attended the ceremonies, but one of the attendees was 90-year-old Roy Stanley, who survived the explosion as a boy.

Cllr Davies said he was glad to have met him. He said: “We still have survivors from this act of war living here - I had never met Roy Stanley before.

“The explosion was a huge thing to happen in Kenilworth and I found the cermonies to be quite moving. The day is worth remembering.

Memorials in Kenilworth commemorating the Abbey End bombings 76 years ago. NNL-161122-195845009

Memorials in Kenilworth commemorating the Abbey End bombings 76 years ago. NNL-161122-195845009

“I was relieved people came, especially on Monday because it was pouring down with rain.

“It’s a real pity these people’s graves were never marked years ago. At least people going to churchyard will now see it.

“I hope future mayors will lay wreaths at the two sites for many years to come.”

The ceremony pleased Kenilworth historian Robin Leach, who had campaigned for the tragedy to be formally remembered for many years.

The town council placed a small memorial in Abbey End around 20 years ago, but since that time nothing had been done to commemorate the bombing, apart from the ceremony last year to mark the 75th anniversary.

Mr Leach felt the victims of the bombing deserved to be remembered just as much as soldiers are during Remembrance Sunday.

He said: “This was a very notable event in Kenilworth’s history - there hadn’t been a loss of life like that in Kenilworth for a very long time.

“These people died in war, exactly the same as soldiers did. It’s only right that they should be remembered as well.

“I think the ceremony went very well, despite the weather. It was nothing too showy, just very respectful.

“The day had been marked before on special occasions, but this is the first time it was simply marked because of the anniversary.”

The gravestone commemorating the lost victims was donated for free by John Taylor Funeral Services after Cllr Pat Cain approached them for a quote.

The landmine dropped on Kenilworth was believed to have been intended for Birmingham, which was undergoing bombing from the Luftwaffe on that night.