On the morning of May 25, 1943, the Luftwaffe attacked Brighton in the worst raid on the town of the war. One man has made it his life's work to tell the story of that day. The raiders came and went in just six minutes - but they took a heavy toll.
Twenty four people died and over 130 were injured in the daylight raid. Over 150 homes were made uninhabitable, the Black Rock gasworks were set ablaze and the London Road viaduct was shattered. The raiders dropped 22 1000 lb. bombs, before going on to strafe Kemp Town, Black Rock and Preston Park with machine gun and cannon fire. David Rowland was eight years old on that day and has never forgotten what happened. He and a friend escaped death by a split second after the road they were crossing was machine gunned by a German pilot. "We heard a sort of pitter, patter noise on the road surface. This was the sound of the bullets hitting the road close to where we had just been standing." he said.
Since then the former policeman has spent years researching the actual events of that day and talking to others who were there. One interviewee, Reginald Allam, then 13, had a lucky escape.
A 500 lb. bomb passed through his house in Argylle Terrace before finally bringing down part of the viaduct which carried the south coast rail line. "We were bombed, the noise being like Satan hammering on the gates of hell. The noise was indescribably horrifying and I hope never to hear the like again.." said Reginald.
Reg Fitch, then 14, was trapped in the debris of a bombed shop in Down Terrace. "Neither of us could move and extricate ourselves from the debris. The man wedged in with me was moaning and crying out repeatedly, 'I'm dead, I'm dead'. For author David Rowland, the work of the past eleven years has been about proving that his childhood memories were real enough. He has one other mission - to see adequate civic recognition for the civilian casualties of war. Air raids killed 198 Brighton civilians during the Second World War. "You can look all around the town and there is no reference to the civilian casualties in Brighton - only in a book at St Peter's Church. There is nothing on the war memorial, he said.