Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet


Bomb Damage to Parsonage Hall

Taken from the Melbourne Argos, 29th July 1944

Oak Beams of True Thomas Wood's Home Stood the Test

One of those new fandangled "robombs," Hitler's secret weapon, as he calls it, hit the village of Bures, Suffolk, England, on June 16 1944 about the hour of cock-crow, and caused a scatteration.
This makes 144 bombs, not counting incendiaries, that have hit the village this war, interfering with about 1,000 decent villagers going about Christian-like on their lawful occasions. Hitler will answer for this. There are 160 lads and lasses of the village gone off to the wars, not counting 70 in the Home Guard, and the ARP, fire, special police, and ambulance services, and the village has paid its silver into the war and victory loans, too; more than £20,000 sterling.

Bures, Suffolk, be no ordinary village, we would have you know, though it do stand full 60 mile north-north-west of London town. It has stood more than 1,000 years on this very site. Edmund I, King of the English, was crowned here him they called Edmund the Martyr, because he died of a knife stab in the belly, inflicted on May 26, 946; at the royal villa-of Pucklechurch, by the hand of one Liofar an exiled robber, and as scurvy a knave as ever approached a royal personage.

Here stands Parsonage Hall, home of True Thomas Wood, the music maker and scribe, who has gone off to Australia, or some such outlandish place, as King's Minstrel, leaving his lawful wedded wife, Mistress St Osyth Mahala Eustace Wood, OBE, president of the British Legion at Bures.
Parsonage Hall is one of the oldest homes in England, built of oak beams, studs, and Tudor bricks in 1480, added to about 1530, another wing added about 100 years later, Queen Anne windows put in about 1700, and the present barn and stables 1750.
It contains a good collection of books, early prints, and woodcuts, needlework, old lace, and Tudor furniture.

And here is the true account of what the "robomb" did to Parsonage Hall, as told by Mrs Osyth Wood in an airgraph to Dr Thomas Wood, care of His Majesty's High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in Australia:

"This week has not been without incident. Thursday I went to London shopping. A most peaceful journey both ways, although part of a bomber had come down on the line earlier in the week, and on Wednesday they were transferring passengers to a shuttle bus service at Stratford.
I woke up suddenly at 5.30am with what seemed like a plane with a missing engine just above the chimneys. My reaction was: "That chap's in trouble. Curious, it doesn't sound like one of ours; and it doesn't sound like a German!' Then I heard the engine shut off, then a bomb; very dimly I remember hearing falling glass and thinking I must get up and see if anybody wants help and that a coat over pyjamas was quicker than shirt and trousers. But instead I went peace- fully asleep, shedding all my responsibilities."

(Mrs Wood is an ARP warden. Sub- sequent medical evidence disclosed that she did not doze off again, but was stunned by the concussion from the bomb, which, had fallen 200 yards from the house.)

"The next thing I remember," she continues, was a very deferential voice in my dressing room and a tremendous banging noise. I woke up brightly, assuring Tom (ie, Tom Springett, the gardener) that I was quite all right. Tom said the attic window had been burst by the blast.
Then I remembered the plane crashing and felt very bad that I had not got up, but decided that a little coffee and a survey of the damage were indicated.
So I proceeded to put on a dressing gown, make the coffee very carefully, put the coffee pot in the larder, and the kettle in the oven, and take a preliminary look round. The damage was extraordinarily light. Nobody was hurt, but the village was seething with rumours, and housewives bewailing broken panes of glass and general dirt.
It was a new engine of war, very hush hush, and the bobbies went round to try its effective range. I named it 'the flying pig' after inspecting its remains.
After a careful survey of the damage, a broken window here, some window frames loosened and buckled, cracks in the attic plaster, man roof blown out of the hen roof, all the dirt from the chicken roof blown through, ceiling, and dirt everywhere, Mrs Woods adds: "I always knew it was one of the strongest houses in England, but it had a tremendous crump.
It must have jumped inches ...But the oak beams and studs stood the shock"
They were, in truth, master builders in 1480.

Editor:- This was the bomb that dropped in a field directly opposite. Parsonage Hall and Bakers Hall were neighbours and directly located opposite the bomb site.
This extract taken from Bures war records:-

On another occasion a V1 rocket fell on farmland between Bakers Hall and the railway line, breaking numerous windows. Gordon Webber recalls on that evening, one almighty bang as the rocket plummeted into the ground opposite Bakers Hall where he lived. With the family safely tucked away he ventured outside to see smoke and flames pouring out of the crater. The American soldier who was in the guard post on the corner, was lying flat on the floor and muttered something like "Gee, what was that?"

Research Alan Beales 2011