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Grim toll of victims
SOUTHAMPTON was in the forefront of the Battle of Britain.
Back in 1940, the look-outs who stood sentry on the roofs of tall buildings, armed with powerful binoculars, sweeping the skies for any imminent German attack, were given the nick-name “Crows’’.
This was because crows have better eyesight then most other birds and animals, and can see an amazing array of colours as well as spotting things from long distances with pinpoint accuracy.
The “Crows’’ gave early warnings of any potential attack, and so hopefully giving factory workers time to reach the relative safety of the air raid shelters.
The terrible toll included the Supermarine works, which were destroyed, the Southampton Gas Company’s base was heavily damaged, as was the International Cold Storage building in the docks, all of which bore the brunt of that same September raid.
In this raid a total of 60 bombs were dropped in an area of about one sixteenth of a square mile in the Chapel district, close to the gas works.
At the airport 46 people were killed and 87 injured in a swift but deadly, hit-and-run raid by six enemy aircraft. On September 15, the day when 185 German planes were shot out of the sky by the RAF, there was another hard-hitting raid on the lower part of the town, as it was then, and among those killed were the first Southampton Home Guards to lose their lives.
Two sentries, who had just been posted at the Post Office in the High Street, also died when a high explosive bomb fell in the area.