Eleanor May Coventry

Incident Date:02/01/1943
Died Address:Suffolk House, Brassey Road, Bexhill, Surrey
Grave Photo:No
Cemetery or Memorial:Brighton Crematorium
Town Memorial:Bexhill Civilian Memorial
Extra Information:
Born Eleanor May Langley on the 15th November
1877, the birth being registered during the March
quarter 1878 in the Chorlton R.D. - ref: 8c/704,
the daughter of Henry & Janet Langley.

1881 Census - The Lodge, Platt Lane, Rusholme,
Manchester.  Daughter - aged: 3 - born:
Manchester.  Head of household - Henry N. Langley
- Married - aged: 38 - occ: Consul for Honduras &
Salesman Merchant - born: Mayfield, Sussex.  Also
- Janet Langley - Wife - aged: 29 - born:
Manchester.  Plus - 2 brothers and 3 domestic

1891 Census - Glenbrooke, Holly Road, Fulshaw,
Cheshire.  Daughter - aged: 13 - Scholar - born:
Manchester.  Head of household - Henry M. Langley
- Married - aged: 48 - occ: South American
Merchant Consul for Salvador - H.M. Duties - born:
Mayfield, Sussex.  Also - Janet Langley - Wife -
aged: 39 - born: Manchester.  Plus 4 brothers and
3 domestic

1901 Census - The Elms, Byron's Lane,
Macclesfield.  Visitor at the home of her
impending in-laws.   Unmarried - aged: 23 - born:
Manchester.  Also listed was her husband to be -
Theodore Coventry - Unmarried - aged: 36 - occ:
Mechanical Engineer, Managing Director - born:
Manchester.  Plus 3 of Theodore's half sisters, 2
visitors and  5 domestic servants. 

Married: Theodore Coventry during the June quarter
1901 in the Chorlton R.D. - ref: 8c/1552.

1911 Census - Fern Royd, St Margaret's Road,
Dunham Massey.  Wife - Married - aged: 33 - born:
Manchester.  Head of household – Theodore
Coventry - Married - aged: 46 - occ: Mechanical
Engineer - born: Salford. Plus their two children
– Theodore Millis Coventry, aged: 8 and Eleanor
Kate Coventry, aged: 7, together with 3 domestic

1939 National Registration - 21 Plemont Gardens,
Bexhill, Sussex.   Theodore Coventry - Married -
born: 5th May 1864 - occ: Traveller for Special
Flooring used in Industrial & Food Works.  Eleanor
May Coventry - Married - born: 15th November 1877
- occ: Unpaid Domestic Duties.  There is no
mention of their two adult children at this
address.   Their son was recorded as residing at
21 York Road, Birmingham – Married – born: 9th
May 1902 – occ: Commercial Assistant Zipp Slide
Fasteners.  He died at Kerrier, Cornwall in 1992. 
 I have not been able to trace where their
daughter was at that time, she was born on the
13th June 1903, she never married and died at
Bodmin, Cornwall in 1988.

The Incident: It would appear that over the new
year of 1943 Mrs. Coventry was staying at the
Suffolk Guest House, Brassey Street, Bexhill, East
Sussex together with her husband Theodore Coventry
and their daughter – Eleanor Kate Coventry. 
Their son – Theodore Millis Coventry had married
in 1936 and was not at Bexhill at the time.  This
was a domestic two story, brick built,
semi-detached house, in use as a guest house.

The Bomb Census report from the Ministry of Home
Security’s Research & Development (National
Archives HO 192/1016) states that at 09.00 hrs on
the morning of the 2nd January 1943 three
Focke-Wulf 190 fighter/bombers, each capable of
delivering a 500 Kg bomb and one Messerschmitt 109
fighter flying at a maximum of 50 feet in
‘diamond’ formation with the ME109 at the rear
point, came in for what was known as a “Tip and
Run” air raid over Bexhill, East Sussex.  One of
many German “Tip & Run” raids made during this
period of the war over the south coast of England,
as far west as Devon.

The report states that the aircraft dropped 500 Kg
H.E. bombs on three properties and an open piece
of land.  These were:- 15 Jameson Road, Motcombe
Court situated at the corner of Dorset Road South
and De La Warr Parade; some vacant land at the
corner of New Park Avenue and King’s Close,
leaving a 24 feet diameter crater, to a depth of
some 6 feet.
According to the local newspaper - the Bexhill
Observer, dated the 9th January 1943, a H.E. bomb
landed on a guest house [Suffolk House] and it was
reduced to a ‘pile of debris’.  Among those
who lost their lives were - Miss Ada Mary Adamson
(guest house proprietor) - aged: 73; Miss Edith
Lilian Corke – aged: 39; Mrs. Eleanor May
Coventry – aged: 65 and Miss Jane Charlotte Cana
- aged: 84.  Miss Cana was rescued alive, but
later died in hospital.  One lady resident –
Miss Annie Phillips, aged: 76 had a lucky escape,
as she had broken her leg (nothing to do with the
bombing incident) and had just left the guest
house in an ambulance when the bomb fell.

Miss Ada Adamson was a member of the W.V.S. and
had volunteered to put up anyone needing
accommodation in the town as it was subject to
entry restrictions.

The body of Eleanor May Coventry was cremated at
the Brighton Crematorium.

Eleanor’s husband – Theodore Coventry –
aged: 78 and their daughter – Eleanor Kate
Coventry – aged: 39 were rescued and made good
progress in hospital.  The principal mourner at
Eleanor’s funeral was her son, which would
indicate that her husband and daughter were still
recovering in hospital from their injuries and
were unable to attend.

The East Sussex Record Office holds a letter from
Theodore thanking the Bexhill Rescue Squad.

DR/B 41/22      Bexhill Borough Council Monthly CD

Letter dated 28th January 1943 from T Coventry Esq
to Chief Warden:
“Would you kindly convey to the members of the
Rescue Squad who were instrumental in rescuing me
and my daughter on the 2nd January from the debris
of Suffolk House, my very deep appreciation of the
efficiency and expedition of their work. I was
conscious all the time and realized that my life
depended on their speed as I could hardly breathe
and was unable to move at all.  Again, thanking
all concerned.”

Theodore eventually died in 1950 in the Bromsgrove
area - aged: 85.

Eleanor’s connection to Trafford appears to be
that the family resided there in 1911 and that her
husband returned to Bowdon after her death -
presumably this was the family home and they were
still residing there in 1942?

CWGC - Wife of Theodore Coventry of Bowdon,
Cheshire.  Died at Suffolk House, Brassey Road,
Bexhill, Sussex.

I am indebted to David Hatherell, resident of
Bexhill who researches the war dead of Bexhill and
who has kindly made available to me all his
collection of records of this incident.

Altrincham (Trafford MBC)
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