Next time you’re on the school playground or at the war memorial in Reigate, look out for the damage from 80 years ago. These snapshots from history come courtesy of our diligent Archivist Peter Burgess (RGS 1967-1974).
At lunchtime on Sunday 18 August 1940, the air-raid siren sounded over Reigate. The caretaker, RSM Cuss, moved his wife and two daughters Edna and Doreen across from their house to the school cloakroom at the east end of the school. This was right next to the coal cellar, which was their air-raid shelter, allowing them to get downstairs immediately if necessary. As they were about to eat they heard the explosion of a bomb, the sound of an aircraft, followed by a whistle and the much louder explosion of another bomb. The first bomb fell at Shaw’s Corner where several people were killed, and there is still visible damage to the granite base of the war memorial. The second bomb fell in the school playground, some yards away from the school buildings. Further bombs fell in the cemetery.
Mr. Allison stands in the bomb crater, RSM Cuss behind. There was extensive blast damage to the school with many windows blown out. The caretaker’s house was also extensively damaged. The wall of the ground floor of the affected wing has since been partly rendered, covering the shrapnel damage, but in the brickwork above this it is still possible to see the pock marks caused by the bomb blast.