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1938
• Large bone of a prehistoric monster found in Sea Reach and brought to Gravesend.
• Turner Layton, famous vocalist and pianist, appeared at the Majestic cinema, Gravesend.
• New children’s playground officially opened at Woodlands Park.
• A Gravesend man certified as suffering from smallpox aboard the “Cathay”. It was feared a smallpox outbreak would occur after four more cases were identified in the following three months.
• New lighting system on Rochester Road illuminated for the first time.
• Foundation stone laid by the Marchioness Camden at new St. Mary’s Church, Wrotham Road, Gravesend. The church was opened in November and consecrated by the Bishop, Dr. Martin Linton Smith.
• The latest fighter and bomber aircraft of the Royal Air Force shown at Empire Air Day, Gravesend airport.
• Commander of Polish training ship “Iskra” visited the Mayor while the ship was moored off Gravesend.
• Air raid precautions exercise took place, three incidents were staged and Gravesend and Northfleet were “bombed”.
• “Port Nicolson” collided with and sunk the tug “Ocean Cock” - four Gravesend men were drowned.
• World famous Cossacks (Les Cosques Djoguites) gave an equestrian display on Central Avenue ground.
• New Gravesend open air swimming pool, Ordnance Road, opened by A.P.Herbert MP. (See 1977, 1989)
• The historic house, Great Hermitage, Higham, built in 1736 was destroyed by fire.
• Alec Clouston and Victor Ricketts flew from Gravesend airport to New Zealand in 10 days 21 hours and 22 minutes.
• “Royal Sovereign” pleasure steamer involved in a collision with “Batavier III” during fog in Gravesend Reach - only slight damage occurred.
• Two new type Swedish submarines arrived in the Thames off Gravesend - Commanders visited the Mayor of Gravesend.
• Incendiary bombs were demonstrated on Gordon Recreation Ground.
• New school opened at Northcourt, Denton, by Sir Irving J.Albery MP for Gravesend. The village school at Chalk closed at this time and pupils transferred. (See 1999)
• American warship “Nashville” anchored off Gravesend.
• Population of Gravesend received their gas masks, as the advent of war grew closer.
• “Clifton Shades” public house, Clifton Marine Parade, closed due to the extensions at Imperial Paper Mills.
• New County School for Boys, Milton, opened by Mr Edward Hardy, JP, Chairman of Kent County Council (Present day Gravesend Grammar school for Boys).
• Improved dental service introduced for elementary school children in the area.
• Swedish steamer “Magne” damaged in a collision with the British collier “Hawkwood”.

1939
• Billy Cotton and his broadcasting band appeared at the “Majestic” cinema, Gravesend.
• Last trace of Rosherville Gardens - the remaining tower - was demolished.
• New Church of England senior school, St George’s, built in Wrotham Road. Officially opened and dedicated by the Bishop of Rochester.
• New Co-operative Society Department store opened in Milton Road on the site once occupied by Barton’s Timber yard. (Now occupied by Courts Furniture store).
• The “Playhouse” Theatre opened in Peacock Street, under new management, after being renovated and the stage modernised.
• Northfleet United Football Club disbanded. (See 1946)
• New fire tender with modern equipment delivered to the Fire Brigade.
• The “Old Falcon” public house in East Street closed down after 126 years.
• New “Woodlands Hotel”, Wrotham Road, opened. (See 1998)
• West Indian cricketers played the first match of their tour of England at the Bat and Ball ground, Gravesend.
• New Territorial Army unit formed in Gravesend - the first company to be started here.
• New Westcourt Primary School, Westcourt Estate, Chalk officially opened by the Chairman of Gravesend Education Committee.
• Two training aeroplanes crashed in mid-air over Marling Cross whilst coming in to land - Gravesend flying instructor killed.
• Polish naval training vessel “Iskra” visited Gravesend again.
• Four French warships visited Gravesend, the first time that units of the French fleet had visited for 25 years.
• In September the Flying Training school at Gravesend airport closed and the airport was requisitioned by the Air Ministry to become a satellite of Biggin Hill. Blenheims, Hurricanes and Spitfires of various squadrons all operated from Gravesend during the war.
• Councillor complained about offensive smell in the town. There were suspicions that it came from cesspools in Lamorna Avenue, the Sewage farm or from Tilbury.
• Film star Sylvia Marriott appeared at “Laughing Water” Cobham.
• A four-hour experimental blackout observed in conjunction with the Royal Air Force.
• Serious damage caused by fire at Messrs W. Henley’s Telegraph Works, Northfleet. (See 1906, 1945)
• First steel air-raid shelters delivered in Gravesend.
• The “Bat and Ball White House” demolished to make way for the new “Bat and Ball Hotel”.
• White lines and dashes painted along the middle of Gravesend’s roads to aid motorists during blackouts at night.
• School children, and children under school age with parents, were evacuated by pleasure steamers from the Southern Railway Pier on 3rd September, the day before war was declared. 3,694 people were evacuated by 5 ships in 3 hours. “The Golden Eagle”, “Royal Daffodil”, “Queen of the Channel”, “The Royal Sovereign” and the “Medway Queen” sailed from Gravesend to the east coast. Gravesend parents later made a coach trip to visit their evacuated children.
• Former British Vice-Consul in Hamburg, Mr. L.G.Bayliss, who had been under arrest in Germany for six weeks, landed at Gravesend’s Southern Railway Pier.

the-royal-daffodil-1939.jpg
the-royal-daffodil-1939.jpg

1940
• 12 British citizens (10 women and 2 children) arrived in Gravesend after spending four months in Nazi prisons.
• The first full-time public library in Northfleet opened at 1 London Road in a converted house. (See 2000)
• Premises were requisitioned for public shelters, (e.g. British Home Stores, the Co-op and Milton School) for warden posts (e.g. Pelham Arms and Prince of Orange) and for first aid posts (e.g. St James’s School).
• All Gravesend schools were opened on Saturday 1 June for registration of children for evacuation. Only registered children could be taken to safer places. A second evacuation then took place from Gravesend to Windsor and Devon. A total of 1,224 children were evacuated.
• Mr J. Holderness retired from Gravesend Post Office having worked as a postman since 1896.
• Many local volunteers with ships from the Gravesend area took part in the evacuation from Dunkirk. On the way home they were repeatedly bombed but suffered no losses.
• As from Wednesday 12 June householders could be prosecuted if they had bought an Anderson shelter but not erected it or covered it with the correct amount of earth.
• Admiral Studholme Brownrigg of Shorne was the first person to enrol in a parachute troop at Gravesend. He enrolled before Anthony Eden had even finished his broadcast appeal.
• Gravesend Town Council agreed to erect bomb shelters to accommodate 2350 people at a cost of £9000. These were to be erected in the shopping areas.
• Employees of London Lead Oxide Co. Ltd., Royal Pier Road, Gravesend found a large snake in a warehouse. It was believed to have come from Burma in a shipment of lead.
• Gravesend magistrates imposed heavy fines on blackout offenders as the numbers had been very high.
• Ninety pigs were burned to death when the piggeries at Woodlands Farm, Downs Road, Northfleet burned down. The pigs were valued at £1000.
• A committee headed by the Mayor of Gravesend started to collect money in August to enable Gravesend to present the Air Ministry with a Spitfire costing £5000. The fund passed its target by October
• German bombers dropped their bombs on Northfleet before engaging in a battle with R.A.F. fighters.
• Gravesend and other towns in Britain, experienced the worst period for bombing raids during the last few months of this year. This period of the war came to be known as “The Blitz”. The incidents were as follows -
• The railway line between Gravesend and Northfleet was damaged, part of Colyer Road School was burned down and many houses in Gravesend and Northfleet were damaged in a night bombing raid in August. About 50 incendiary bombs were dropped near Westcourt, Chalk. Prompt action by the public and Fire Brigade extinguished them without any casualties or much damage. A bomb on Raphael Road damaged several houses, killed two people and injured fifteen others. Bombs fell on Gravesend Airport in September and two soldiers were killed. One high explosive bomb fell in Peter Street. Numbers 19, 20, 21 and 22 were demolished. There were a few injuries but no deaths. High explosive bomb at 16 Pelham Road, damaged 60 other houses and demolished those closest to the hit. High explosive bomb (delayed action) in Alexandra Road, Denton. Inhabitants evacuated but the bomb later exploded demolishing 2 houses and damaging 79. Many bombs fell in September including one in Windmill Gardens, which damaged the War Memorial, one in the river which sank the training ship “Cornwall” and one on the railway line which damaged track 100 yards east of Denton Halt. Two bombs fell on the east side of the County School for Boys, Church Walk, caused extensive damage to the school and also to the “Prince of Wales” public house, Denton Post Office and the Co-op Stores. Part of Albion Terrace was damaged by a bomb in November. 12 high explosive bombs fell on Gravesend Promenade. One person killed and five injured. A number of incendiary bombs fell on Imperial Paper Mills. West Mill was extensively damaged and East Mill slightly damaged. Pulp stack in centre burning fiercely with water mains out of order. The fire brigade pumped water directly from the river.
• Largest formation of Luftwaffe faced by the Gravesend Squadron so far, consisted of four waves of bombers escorted by Messerschmitts.
• A Hurricane was forced to land at Gravesend in September, after being shot down, possibly by a Spitfire.
• Number 421 Flight formed at Gravesend on the personal instigation of the Prime Minister. This flight used to patrol the sky high over the channel to report on the build up of the Luftwaffe airfleets.
• British Hurricane crashed on the golf links and was completely wrecked.
• A Spitfire crashed on Barton’s Wharf, Albion Parade, after a dog fight with Messerschmitts advancing up the Thames. The plane was buried 25 feet deep and emergency services were unable to get to it. The pilot and plane remain buried to this day. (See 1990)

1941
• Incendiary bombs fell on the Kings Farm district during January.
• A member of the Home Guard was shot dead on the rifle range at Gravesend while doing bayonet practice.
• Cobham churchyard was increased by one acre.
• During April 11 high explosive bombs and some incendiary bombs were dropped on the Borough, killing one person and injuring six others. Two houses were demolished and fifty damaged.
• The “British Restaurant” at Holy Trinity School premises in Gravesend, was opened by the Mayor in May. This was the first “communal feeding centre” to open in the town. Serving meals between noon and 2pm each weekday, a meal cost 8d. for adults, 4d. for children and 6d., if the meal was taken away in your own container. Canteens were also opened at Westcourt, Whitehill and Gordon Schools.
• Gravesend Citizens Advice Bureau opened at 36 Harmer Street.
• The Gravesend Unit of the Women’s Junior Air Corps, the first of its kind in Kent, already had 130 members although their uniforms had not yet arrived.
• Twelve women were recruited for Gravesend Police Force to enable policemen to enlist for armed service.
• The old forge in Bull Yard was demolished in October.