COVID-19 will prevent Hampshire residents from gathering today to mark the 80th anniversary of a bombing raid in which 25 people were killed.

The raid devastated the centre of New Milton and was the worst of three attacks the town was forced to endure during the Second World War.

A total of 31 people were killed, the youngest of whom was a six-year-old boy.

Residents normally gather beneath the New Milton Memorial Clock on August 23 to remember the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives.

This year's service would have been especially poignant because it would have taken place 80 years to the day since the first raid. But commemorations have had to move online because of coronavirus and the need for social distancing.

The initial attack was carried out by a Heinkel that dropped more than 20 bombs in a raid that left most of the shopping area in ruins.

Victims included 15-year-old Archie Bursey, a telegram boy working for the Post Office who was killed instantly in Old Milton Road.

Alfred Probert, of Boldre, was travelling with his wife Hilda and their four-year-old daughter Jeanette in when their motorcycle and sidecar were caught up in the raid.

Other fatalities included Corporal Thomas Davies and his wife Evelyn, who were walking down Station Road when the bombs fell.

A further six people died in two subsequent raids on August 8, 1942 and January 22, 1943, including a mother and her four children.

A town council spokesperson said: "Every one of the 31 killed left behind loved ones, family, and friends. Every one had a personal story and every one left a hole in the community.

"Each year on August 23 we take a few moments to assemble as a community read out their names and quietly reflect on those lives lost.

"Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and social gathering restrictions this year, there will not be an official community gathering at the clock.

"But we will remember them. We will honour and pay our respects to those citizens by sharing their names on our website and social media."