Severalls Hospital

BANNER -SMH- New Asylum, Myland
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Severalls Hospital LOGO

Severalls Mental Hospital

Second Essex County Asylum

...past...present...future...

The Air Raid 11th. of August, 1942

At about 1:40am on the morning of the 11th. of August, 1942, the stillness of the night was horrifically shattered by three high explosive bombs, each bomb containing 500 lbs of explosives. One of these bombs directly hit the Female Working Ward whilst Patients and Nursing Staff alike were sleeping. The Laundry was also hit and severely damaged. 38 Female Patients lost their lives, with 23 more injured. Reports made at the time tell of selfless acts of heroism from Hospital Staff, A.R.P. Wardens, the Fire Brigade, Police and Ambulance, in attempting to save those trapped and buried under tons of debris. The bomb damaged Wards were finally demolished and cleared away twenty years later, in 1962, as reported in a local Newspaper below:

The morning after the Air Raid, showing the bombed Working Ward on the Female Side -August, 1942
SMH Bomb Damage -1962 (1)

Extract Copyright of Essex County Standard.

Peace at last

Shortly afterwards, 23 of the women who died as a result of this terrible act of the Second World War, were laid to rest in graves at Colchester Cemetary. Catherine Lucy JONES, aged 74 Rose WASH, aged 58 Rosanna Agnes BROWN, aged 65 Matilda SHEAD, aged 71 Ella Neta WOLLARD, aged 38 Charlotte Elizabeth KNOWLES, aged 64 Nellie RANDALL, aged 55 Emma DALE, aged 60 Sarah Elizabeth Lois HOBSON, aged 71 Eleanor Jane NEWSON, aged 64 Maud Elizabeth PIGG, aged 72 Fanny Horide STARES, aged 48 Dora Frances GARSTANG, aged 60 Ethel Elizabeth WOOD, aged 65 Mary Jane MAYHEW, aged 65 Ada YORK, aged 45 Sarah KAY, aged 41 Jean Lilian ROBERTS, aged 25 Amy Theresa DEANE, aged 78 Alice Beatrice BARNES, aged 55 Rosina WADE, aged 76 Grace Edith MORGAN, aged 24 Rose SHIPSTON, aged 57 An inscription on one of the Headstones reads:~ “Could one of us have held your hand, or heard your last farewell? The parting would not have been so bad, for those that mourn you still.”

Plaque in Memory -August, 2010
A moving Inscription on one of the headstones -August, 2010

Having visited the Graves in March of 2010, we initially were struck by the sheer scale of the human tragedy and the loss of life -the Graves almost fill an entire row at the Cemetary. Just as sad is the fact that the women who at the time, were being cared for at Severalls Hospital, were already suffering with their own mental illness, so for their lives to be ended in such a horrific way is almost too terrible to imagine. We felt that it was appropriate and important to tell the story of what happened to these women, as well as the selfless acts of heroism. As a mark of respect in memory of those lives lost and affected by this Air Raid, flowers have been placed on each of these Graves, with a Plaque telling the story of what happened to these women.

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