The Lynn News is marking the centenary of the Zeppelin air raids on West Norfolk with a series of articles from our archives, containing fascinating eye-witness accounts of what happened on January 19, 1915.
Inquests on the two Bentinck Street victims of the air raid, Alice Maud Gazley, aged 26, a widow, and Percy Goate, aged 14, were held at Lynn Town Hall on Thursday afternoon, January 21, just two days later.
Dr H. C. Allinson, the Deputy Coroner, said the town had been suffering very severely from one of the hostile acts against this country.
King’s Lynn had unfortunately borne the brunt and the jury at the inquest had to decide how these two people met their death.
The Deputy Coroner read a statement from Percy Goate’s mother which said: “We were all upstairs in bed, me and my husband and the baby and Percy, when I heard a buzzing noise.
“My husband put out the lamp and I saw a bomb drop through the skylight and strike the pillow where Percy was laying. I tried to wake him, but he was dead. Then the house fell in and I don’t remember any more.”
Dr. G. R. Chadwick said he examined Percy’s body on Wednesday night at the town mortuary.
There was a laceration to the boy’s face and a bruise on the chest.
In his opinion the cause of death was shock as the wounds were not sufficient to cause death.
The inquest on Mrs Gazley followed and evidence was given by her father, Henry William Rowe, a dock labourer of Albion Terrace, Gaywood Road. He said his daughter’s husband was recently killed in action in France.
On the night of the bombing he saw his daughter in Blackfriars Road at 10pm. Soon after the explosions he went to her home, Rose Cottage in Bentinck Street, and although it was not destroyed the windows were broken, but she was not there.
Mr Rowe reported to the police that his daughter was missing and also went to the hospital, but heard nothing.
He then heard that Mr and Mrs Fayers had gone to the hospital and he went to see them as he knew they were friendly with his daughter.
Mrs Fayers told him that when the explosion happened, Mrs Gazley had been in her (Mrs Fayers’) house and ran out.
Mrs Fayers attended the inquest with her face bandaged and with injuries received at the time of the explosion.
On the Tuesday night Mrs Gazley visited her and they had just finished supper when there was a dreadful noise and a bang which frightened them both.
“Mrs Gazley rushed out of the house and that was the last I saw of her.”
Police Sgt Beaumont said that at 6.30am on Wednesday Mr Rowe went to the police office and said he had not found his daughter and said: “I think she’s under the ruins of Mrs Fayers’ house.”
At daylight the officer went with Mr Rowe to search the ruins of Fayers’ house and they found the body.
It was removed by the police ambulance and there was no sign of life.
Dr Chadwick said he found bruising and abrasions on the body of Mrs Gazley and the blows were sufficient to cause shock. His opinion was that she died from shock.
The Deputy Coroner said the evidence was clear that these two unfortunate people lost their lives by an act of the King’s enemies.
The jury returned a verdict that Mrs Gazley and Percy Goate died from the effects of the acts of the King’s enemies.
The foreman: “Murder.”
The Deputy Coroner: “Unquestionably. All war is murder. It would be adding something which would be true, but it was hardly necessary. We all sympathise with what you say.”
The proceedings then concluded.