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CIVILIAN CASUALTIES OF THE BOMBING OF TORPOINT

 

There can be no doubt that Torpoint is in Cornwall not Devon - at least all the official documentation points that way. But if you are there - if you live in the environs of Plymouth or of Torpoint - then it feels quite different. It's all to do with where you work and yes, you may indeed live across the water in Cornwall but if your employment, your social life, your shopping mecca, your nearest hospital, all lie  in Devon across the Hamoaze- the band of water that separates Plymouth and Torpoint - then probably your thinking will  be far more localised than county-wide.

 

There are plenty of places in Torpoint from which you can get a clear view of the Royal Navy Dockyard at Devonport - places from which you can appreciate the scale of the jobs on offer there. From the very beginnings of the Yard in the 17th century, as dawn broke, people flocked across in boats of every kind, returning by the same means at the end of the day.

 

The first glimmers of a regular ferry service came in the 1790s with the establishment of small-scale tide and wind dependent services. A chain (or "floating bridge") ferry first arrived in the 1830s and has continued right up to today with a series of updates which have increased capacity and technical efficiency to the point where the ferries now used can make the  650 metre crossing  in 6 minutes, each carrying some 75 vehicles of every kind. As the ferry service grew, so did the little cluster of houses at what was formerly called "Tar Point"; soon, there was a village then a neat town built on a grid system of streets and terraces, many of whose homes were occupied by Royal Naval personnel from the shore establishments at HMS Raleigh. and the former HMS Fisgard (now closed).

 

Nowhere was the connection between Torpoint and Plymouth more obvious than from the air. The details in the photograph below have changed slightly since the 1940s but you can see much of what Luftwaffe pilots saw when they came to bomb Plymouth . They saw that the Hamoaze and its connection between Torpoint and Plymouth formed a key supply and communications route (later to play a vital part in preparations for the D-Day landings) and so, just like its neighbour across the water,  Torpoint was bombed relentlessly. Cornwall County Council records that of the town's 918 houses, over 700 were damaged with another 116 being totally destroyed. In the April 1941 raids, all of the ferries then in use were damaged. As soon as the war was over, reconstruction of the town began but it took another 20 years to restore the town we see today.

 

Torpoin seen from the air in the 1980s

Torpoint seen from the air in the 1980s

Courtesy of Steve Johnson

 

A. E. CONNING
Civilian. Arthur Edwin Conning of 15 Coryton Terrace*, Torpoint. Son of Mary Conning of 2 Gawen Terrace and the late Ernest Conning; husband of Ruth (see below); father of Barbara and Brian (see below). Born in Torpoint in the September Quarter of 1909. Died at 15 Coryton Terrace 23 April 1941 aged 32.

(The Conning family were killed while sheltering in their Anderson Shelter.)

B. CONNING
Child. Barbara Conning of 15 Coryton Terrace*, Torpoint. Daughter of Arthur (above) and Ruth Conning (below); sister of Brian (see below). Born in Torpoint in the June Quarter of 1939. Died at Coryton Terrace 23 April 1941 aged 2.
B. CONNING
Child. Brian Conning of 15 Coryton Terrace*, Torpoint. Son of Arthur (above) and Ruth Conning (below); brother of Barbara (see above). Died at Coryton Terrace 23 April 1941 aged 1 month.
R. CONNING
Civilian. Ruth Conning (née A'Lee) of 15 Coryton Terrace*, Torpoint. Daughter of Mr and Mrs A'Lee of Looe; wife of Arthur Conning (see above); mother of Barbara and Brian (see above). Born in Liskeard in the September Quarter of 1913. Died at 15 Coryton Terrace 23 April 1941 aged 30.
H. A. EVANS
Civilian. Herbert Arthur Evans of Ferry Street, Torpoint. Husband of Elizabeth Evans (née Tyler). Born in Anthony in the June Quarter of 1884. Died at Ferry Street 22/23 April 1941 aged 56.
E. EVERINGTON
Home Guard. Eric Everington of the Vicarage, Landrake. Son of Harry and Jane Everington;  husband of Annie Everington (née Curwen). Born in Oldham in the March Quarter of 1899. Died at Ferry Street 22/23 April 1941 aged 42.
W. H. LEACH
Second Officer, Torpoint Fire Service. William Henry Leach of 38 Fore Street, Torpoint. Son of James and Mary Leach; husband of Ethel Annie Leach. Born in Anthony in the September Quarter of 1881. Died at 38 Fore Street 22/23 April 1941 aged 59.
M. L. NORTHCOTT
Civilian. Muriel Lilian Northcott (née Puckey) of 13 Macey Street, Torpoint. Daughter of Charles and Mabel Puckey (below); wife of Sergeant William Northcott of the RAF. Born in Torpoint in the September 1908. Died at 14 Carew Terrace 2 April 1941 aged 34.
A. E. O'GORMAN
Civilian. Arthur Ernest O'Gorman of 4 Fore Street, Torpoint. Son of Michael and Cathleen O'Gorman of Portsea, Portsmouth; husband of Annie O'Gorman (née Wall). Born in 1885. Died at the Ferry Beach 23 April 1941 aged 56.
A. A. J. PARKER
Civilian. Albert Alfred John Parker of 43 Fore Street, Torpoint. Son of Elizabeth Parker and the late Joseph Parker. Born at 43 Fore Street, Torpoint, in the June Quarter of 1906. injured at Harvey Street 23 April 1941 - died the same day at the First Aid Post aged 34.
W. T. PEACH
Civilian. William Thomas Peach of 36 Fore Street, Torpoint. Son of Leonard Peach of North Park School, Gunnislake, Cornwall. Born in 1884. Died at Fore Street, Torpoint 23 April 1941 aged 57.
C. PUCKEY
Civilian Firewatcher. Charles Puckey of 13 Macey Street, Torpoint. Son of Edward and Susan Puckey; husband of Mabel Puckey (see below); father of Muriel Northcott (see above). Born in Lansallos, Cornwall in the September Quarter of 1876. Died at 14 Carew Terrace* 22 April 1941 aged 65.
M. PUCKEY
Civilian. Mabel Ellen Puckey of 13 Macey Street, Torpoint. Wife of Charles Puckey; mother of Muriel Northcott (see above). Born in Looe in 1886. Died at 14 Carew Terrace*, Torpoint 22 April 1941 aged 55.
G. RODLEY
Civilian ARP Warden. George Rodley of 7 Coryton Terrace*, Torpoint. Son of the late George and Emily Rodley of Sheffield, Yorkshire; husband of Florence Mary Rodley (née Topham). Born in Sheffield in the September Quarter of 1880. Died at Torpoint 16 April 1943 aged 62.
C. WESTLAKE
Child. Colin J Westlake of 14 Carew Terrace, Torpoint. Son of Bertram and Eurieta Westlake; brother of David (see below). Born in Torpoint in the June Quarter of 1936. Died 22 April 1941 aged 5.
D. WESTLAKE
Child. David Bertram Westlake of 14 Carew Terrace, Torpoint. Son of Bertram and Eurieta Westlake; brother of Colin (see above). Born in Torpoint in the March Quarter of 1931 Died 22 April 1941 aged 10..
E. C. WESTLAKE
Civilian. Eurita Clarice Westlake (née Puckey) of 14 Carew Terrace, Torpoint. Daughter of Charles and Mabel Puckey (see above); wife of Bertram James Westlake; mother of David and Colin Westlake (see above). Born in Torpoint in the March Quarter of 1904. Died at 14 Carew Terrace* 22 April 1941 aged 37.
*After the war, Coryton Terrace was renamed as  York Road.

 

 
 
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