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The Beale Family

The daughter of Seaman and Gladys Beale

Gladys Hilda Beale
1930 - 1943


Civilian Evacuee

GLADYS HILDA BEALE One of the children killed on May 30 1943 in the parish church of St. Marychurch, Torquay.

The church of St. Mary the Virgin which gave its name to St. Marychurch, a parish on the outskirts of Torquay, was
destroyed by enemy action on Sunday May 30th 1943 in the early afternoon. Children had begun to arrive for Sunday School
and most of the girls were already inside the church, some with the woman who had brought them - the boys were still playing outside
the door. Inside, the Sunday School teachers were waiting to start their classes when aircraft flew in from the sea and bombs began to
fall. When the raid was over and the full enormity of the event was realised, would-be rescuers came from far and wide, making frantic
attempts to move tons of masonry, metal, timber and glass with their bare hands but in spite of their heroic efforts, the last of the bodies was
not recovered for another 48 hours. Different sources quote different numbers of casualties but below is the number killed as carved
in stone over the doorway of the rebuilt church. This states that 26 children and teachers were killed in the church itself. Sadly, we
have so far traced only 21 children and 3 adults so our search must continue.


Would-be rescuers at work May 1943

A memorial was erected in Torquay's Cemetery to 21 of the children, 8 of whom were buried close to the
Memorial. Its corner in the cemetery looks sad and lonely today and small wonder, for who remains to visit it? This
event occurred 65 years ago and the dead commemorated here were children - they left no descendents to mourn them and the girls
who came from the Erskine Home in Babbacombe would have been in that place because they had already lost one or
both of their parents. Perhaps someone still visits the graves of those children who are not buried here.


The inscription above the church doorway

Possibly in the same raid, but this time over Ashford Kent, her father Seaman Beale died in a raid at
Ashford Railway Works. He was one of 19 who perished.

There is a memorial that was unvail by the Coutess Mountbatten of Burma, on the 11 November 1993.
This can be seen on
http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Kent/AshfordCivilian.html#BealeSeaman

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