Anniversary of Kenilworth landmine explosion to be marked

Abbey End after the landmine hit
Abbey End after the landmine hit

A commemoration service marking the 75th anniversary of a landmine that hit Abbey End in Kenilworth will take place on Saturday November 21 from 2pm at the Abbey End memorial.

Before the service, the town’s mayor Cllr Michael Coker will visit the chapel at Kenilworth Cemetery in Oaks Road at 1pm to lay a wreath there.

The chapel will remain open until 3:30pm to allow people to look at the memorial plaque inside. After that, the mayor will return to move the wreath to the grave of unknown victims who died but could not be identified.

26 people died during the explosion which occured at 2am on November 21, 1940, many of whom were seeking shelter from the extensive bombing in Coventry in the Globe Hotel.

The explosion devastated the hotel, killing many of the people inside.

In a previous interview, a survivor of the explosion, Eileen Norcliffe, was not at the Globe when the landmine hit.

She said: “Coventry was so dangerous - there were a lot of us sheltering in Kenilworth.

“There was such shock in the town after it happened. It is good that it will be remembered this year.

“The truth of what occurred that night was never known and never will be. It was assumed that the pilot mistook Kenilworth for Coventry but this is highly unlikely as situated in the city centre are three church spires.”

Another survivor, Roy Stanley, was just 10 when the landmine hit, and said how important it was that Kenilworth does not forget what happened.

He was in the Globe at the time, and his life was saved by his mother who shielded him from a falling beam.

He said: “I remember seeing the bricks come away from the mortar and falling down on me when the landmine fell.

“We didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, all we knew is that we were buried.

“The next thing I remember is my father coming to get us out. I don’t know how long it all lasted but it seemed like hours. I can still see the bricks, it’s such a vivid memory.”

After the service, there will be a reception at The Gallery in Smalley Place for relatives of the deceased and those connected with the event.