On Wednesday 21st August 1940, Poole had its first experience of bombing when a solitary Junkers 88 appeared over the town and dropped a stick of seven bombs on the old town before making its escape. The first bomb hit an air-raid shelter in the playground of South Road School, fortunately empty of children at the time. It blew a crater 35 feet wide, hurling thick slabs of concrete in all directions and killing Frederick Landray who was in his garden nearby.
The next two bombs fell in Globe Lane and the High Street causing damage but no fatalities. In Market Street, however, Mrs Pauline Fairbrother was killed by the fourth bomb which demolished her house and the house next door. The other three bombs fell in West Street, West Shore and West Quay Road.
In the High Street, the Fifty Shilling Tailor’s had received a direct hit. Witnesses of the raid still remember how the tailors’ dummies were strewn across the road, looking horrifyingly like casualties. Windows of shops opposite were blown right out, including those of a new department store. The A.R.P. services were quickly on the scene clearing away debris and shoring up properties.
That week the report on the raid in the Poole and Dorset Herald was determinedly up-beat with headlines like ‘Morale was Unshaken’ and ‘Not as Bad as it Looked’. According to the paper, the raid proved that ‘it’s going to take the heck of a lot of bombs to shake the people’s morale in this coast town . . . Not a tear was to be seen. People who had lived in the same house practically all their lives, though dazed and bewildered when their homes fell about their ears, soon recovered their spirits’. You can almost hear the clipped Pathé news tones! The reality was probably much grimmer, a sample of what might be in store for the town.
Today, Stan James, the bookmakers occupies no. 84, the site of the Fifty Shilling Tailor’s and Harbour Lights is the shop next door where Lookers’, the printers and stationers used to be. There is nothing to indicate the devastation of seventy years ago.