First German Bomb Falls on Swindon
With the declaration of war and the onset of World War II, Evacuees arrived in Swindon in 1939.
Troops were stationed in churches and school halls throughout town with a contingent of British and American forces stationed in The Lawns, leading to the Manor house's eventual dereliction. Faringdon Road Park had trenches dug under trees and air-raid shelters added due its location near to both the Works and the Railway village.
The GWR Works became a war factory which in turn led to Swindon becoming a target for Bombing raids, with the work's hooter used as one of the town's air raid siren due to its volume.
The first air raid alerts started in June/July 1940 and Swindon received its first bomb in August. The device fell to the rear of Shrivenham Road and no one hurt. However this good fortune was not to last and in October, bombs on York Road and Roseberry Street produced the Town's first fatalities.
To provide recreation for the wartime community, the town's first public library was opened in 1943 in Regent Street with help from the Army. Followed later in 1946 with an arts centre, also on Regent Street.
One evening I can vividly remember running down the garden, hearing the sirens and what sounded like guns going off. The German planes made an awful loud pounding noise. I so remember the night when Kembrey Street was bombed — running down the garden with Mum and Dad and my baby brother being carried. The neighbours joined us. It sounded as if these guns were being fired and bombs were being dropped non-stop.