Day three of my week of ancestor blogs brings me to my first foray into my maternal family history and a civilian on Framlingham’s war memorial, my Aunt Carrie.
Framlingham is close to my heart. It’s where I lived for the first two years of my life, where I went to high school and where I spent long summers ‘revising’ for exams with friends at the castle, overlooking the mere. It’s also where I have strong family roots and where my grandfather had his grain merchant business.
Caroline Amelia Harvey was born in Liverpool in 1878 as her father James Harvey, although originally from a farming family in Stoke Ash, was part of the Liverpool Police Force from the early 1860s until 1891. She was the daughter of James’ second wife, Emma Blake, born in Thorndon, and the younger sister of Amy Eliza Harvey, my Great Great Grandmother.
Caroline came to Framlingham to teach at Sir Robert Hitcham’s School (the town primary school retains part of the name to this day) and after lodging locally for a while moved into the School House. Caroline was by all accounts a wonderful school mistress and I have seen numerous accounts from her pupils talking about how caring and kindly she was.
Aunt Carrie (as my grandmother calls her) was still at the School House when war broke out in 1939. A year later on 6th October 1940, Framlingham found itself drawn into the front line:
“I heard a sort of chatter of machine-gun fire. Looking up at the sky towards the east I saw a plane coming out of the clouds. After a few seconds I saw objects fall from the plane. They hung in the air like a string of sausages. I stood looking at them, wondering what was going on, until I realised they were bombs and they were in line with me….I heard a massive thud. Turning around I saw the School House go sky high”
Taken from a letter to the East Anglian Daily Press some years later.
An extract from the school log book the next day simply states:
“October 7th – School is closed today owing to the air raid on the town yesterday, in which Miss Harvey lost her life”.
Again on October 7th, a newspaper reported:
“Tip and Run Bombing by Day Raiders – Teacher Killed in East Anglia
German planes adopting ‘tip and run’ tactics bombed places in a wide area of South East England and the London district yesterday, lurking in the cover of clouds before dashing down to their objective and speeding away again. A few people were injured by a bomb in central Central London. Bombs were dropped in the East Midlands and East Anglia. In most places little damage was caused and the number of casualties was small…A schoolmistress Caroline Amelia Harvey (62) was the only casualty in the raid over an East Anglian town during the afternoon, She had departed her usual custom of leaving her house during the weekend. A demolition squad recovered her body from the debris.”
The plane was a lone Dornier 111/K76 medium bomber. Seven bombs exploded (some say eight were dropped) but Miss Caroline was the only person to lose her life.
The article referring to her ‘usual custom’ describes the fact that Miss Caroline generally went to the Larters' for her Sunday lunch – Isaac Larter married her sister Amy (Isaac and Amy are my Great Great Grandparents). For whatever reason - some say she felt unwell - Caroline did not go out to her sister’s for lunch after church that day, and stayed at home mending her stockings. Family tales say that she was found still with the needle in her hand when a fireman discovered her in the rubble.
Caroline was buried in Framlingham Cemetery and her name is recorded on the town war memorial, one of five civilians recorded alongside men from the forces, including my paternal Great Uncle, Sergeant Robert Neville Walne, an air gunner who was shot down over Berlin aged just 20.
The site of the school house remained as a wild flower garden for several years before being redeveloped – now home, fittingly, to ‘Harvey House’.
I am very happy to share photos and memories of Miss Caroline and the school with any interested parties reading this blog, please just leave me a comment or send an email.
For more information about Framlingham's history, visit www.framlinghamarchive.org.uk/, a great website with a wealth of information and photographs.