The 70th Anniversary Procession of Light
As part of the 70th anniversary commemorations a Procession of Light was held on the evening of the 31st January 2023 at 6pm. Over 100 members of the community gathered together and walked around the main area affected by the floods, at waypoints the group stopped and the names and a few words about the person or family were read out.
BBC Suffolk filmed part of the procession - their article can be found here.
Below is the text from the procession brouchure -
The Light Shines in the Darkness
Remembering the 41 who lost their lives in the Felixstowe Flood
Waypoint 1 - The Flood Memorial
As we begin our journey please pick up a light from the memorial and carry it with you during the procession.
Head towards the Port.
Turn right into Beach Station Road cross over and turn into Nacton Rd.
Waypoint 2 - The Dolphin Car Park - Nacton Rd
Thomas Collins, aged 79, of 3 Nacton Road. A retired fisherman who had lived in Trimley and Walton. Renowned for his lobster catches, his pots were kept by the Sea Plane Hangars at the Port.
Waypoint 3 - Ambulance Depot - Levington Rd
Lucy Bridge, aged 85, of The Moorings, Levington Road. Originally from Norfolk and was a member of the Felixstowe branch of the Royal British Legion. She was trapped in her ground floor bungalow.
Waypoint 4 - Prefabs in Orford Road
(look toward the industrial buildings there now)
Twenty-Three of the Forty-One who died were living in the prefabs in Orford and Langer Road. They were arranged along the two roads in an ‘L’ shape two prefabs deep.
Muriel Allery, aged 29, and her daughter, Sally Jane, aged 4, of 30 Orford Road. Muriel’s father, Leonard Crosson had campaigned locally and nationally about the building of single storey dwellings on the site of the flood plains here (and on the marshes).
Margaret Elizabeth Johnson, aged 5, of 36 Orford Road.
She died of hypothermia after falling into the water at some point.
Her little baby brother, Tim, 6 months survived as did her parents.
Warrant Officer Raymond Edwin Seth Pettitt, aged 27, his wife Sheila Beatrice Irene, aged 25, and their children Brian, aged 6, Gillian, aged 2, of 38 Orford Road.
Raymond was home on leave. He and Sheila had married in India. The exact circumstances of their deaths are unknown.
Jack Bernard Salmon, aged 37, his wife, Stella Wisbey, aged 37, and child, Robin Anthony Graham, aged 8, of 40 Orford Road.
Jack worked as a cycle engineer. Robin was best friends with another prefab resident of similar age, Richard Lord who survived the ordeal after spending a night on the roof of his family’s prefab. The circumstances of the Salmon family deaths are unknown.
Reginald Norman Terry, aged 42, and his wife, Gladys Mabel aged 40 of 42 Orford Road.
Reginald had been an aircraftman at RAF Felixstowe but was working as a civilian in the transport section of the station
Waypoint 5 - Prefabs in Langer Road
The details of these deaths are often unknown but it is likely they either drowned or died of hypothermia.
William Alfred Damant, aged 45, and wife Stella Mary, aged 44, and their child Keith Richard, aged 8, of 132 Langer Road. William was originally from Ipswich and was a confectionery salesman.
Their elder son Derek was still living in Ipswich and he had to identify the bodies of his family.
Frederick Flather, aged 32, his wife Anne Maud, aged 34, and children Janet, aged 7, and Suzanne, aged 4, of 126 Langer Road. Originally from Yorkshire, Frederick served in the Royal Navy but was working as a Steward in RAF Felixstowe.
Iris Evelyn Sadd, aged 32, and her daughter, Patricia Margaret, aged 4, of 110 Langer Road.
Iris was previously a singer and the sister of Iris had reported to their family they were unable to escape the water surge.
Ronald Frank Studd, aged 37, of 112 Langer Road.
Ronald was a local man living with his wife and child who survived the flood night. On his gravestone in Langley Avenue Cemetery, it states ‘he gave his life for those he loved’
Joan Tong aged 35 and her daughter Angela aged 6 of 124 Langer Road.
Joan was married to Mr Tong. They were both originally from Kent and it is thought he was some form of Clerk for the Council. Angela was friends with the Watkin and Flather children who used to play together being neighbours.
Alison Mary Watkins aged 3 of 122 Langer Road.
Alison’s parents had spent the night on the roof with her little brother Chris, being cuddled by their parents. Despite ending up in the Cottage Hospital and being treated Alison died from hypothermia. Chris and the parents were given treatment in time and survived his sister and their daughter.
Waypoint 6 - Langer Road
Norman Bushnall, aged 31, his wife Jean, aged 25, and their children Keith Norman Robert, aged 2, and Brenda, aged 6 months, of 131 Langer Road.
Having only recently moved into the ground floor flat on the corner of Langer Road and Orford Road the family were unable to successfully escape the surge. Jean’s father was the nightwatchman at the Dock and was rescuing people there and getting them to safety onto the railway embankment. A poignant point was the Sunday Roast joint, which was to be their first in the new flat, was found in the oven ready for cooking on the Sunday.
Staff Sergeant Jack Shortt USAF, aged 22, of Langer Road and RAF Bentwaters.
Jack had married an Ipswich girl and moved to Felixstowe. She spent the night in Ipswich as she was heavily pregnant. Jack’s body was found in the flat. His daughter, Jacky was born 2 months later in the United States of America.
Alfred Howell, aged 77, of West End View, Langer Road (now Landguard Road).
A retired watchman and public works contractor it was he was immobile due to previous strokes and was unable to escape the surge.
Waypoint 7 - Tacon Road
Arthur Frederick Cobb, Railway Signalman, aged 58, of 10 Tacon Road.
Arthur was returning from work as a railway signalman in Trimley and was swept away by the surge in Langer Road. He was a well-known member of Bethesda Baptist church.
Waypoint 8 - Site of the Cavendish Hotel
At this point we remember that this was the Rescue Centre and not flooded due to the incline from Langer Road to Sea Road and the Promenade. We cannot walk to every location of the Forty-One so we stop here to remember those from other roads in our town.
Vera Broom, aged 43, of Senorita Cottage, Felixstowe Ferry.
Vera was rescued from the cottage near the Ferry Boat Inn but as she was in poor health she later died. It was the Coroner who stated clearly how the nights event were the direct cause of her death hence she is counted as one of the Forty-One. There were no other deaths at the Ferry due to Whites, the Brinkley’s, and the Reads encouraging evacuations to the houses with upper storeys. Also the Ferry was far more used to dealing with flooding although the scale of ‘53 was unexpected.
RAF Felixstowe: (now Carr Road and Adastral Close)
Aircraftsman David Anthony Sibbett RAF RMP, aged 18, of Trimley House and RAF Felixstowe.
A local boy from Trimley who was last seen walking away from the evacuation at RAF Felixstowe. His body was found on Trimley Marshes. He had been on duty but it is thought he went to check his grandfather’s car which he borrowed regularly.
Sergeant Stanley Cyril Tidswell aged 40 of Landguard Fort. Cyril, as he was known, lived in the married quarters at Landguard Fort. His wife and two girls were rescued by a Corporal when swept away but Cyril unfortunately drowned. He is buried in Colchester.
Russell Road :
Annie Eliza Hazelden, aged 83, of 42 Russell Road.
Originally from Bermondsey Annie had been in Felixstowe 20 years and was active in the Salvation Army and Bethesda Baptist Church in Cavendish Road. Her funeral was, unusually, held in St George’s Church now the URC in Orwell Road as the Baptist church had been flooded and was unable to be used.
Waypoint 9 - Bowling Green, St Edmunds Rd
Julia Mary Burkitt aged 76 of 18 St Edmunds Road.
Julia died due to be unable to be mobile enough to escape to the upper storey of the house when the surge entered despite her husband’s, Herbert’s, best efforts. Herbert’s daughter’s family, the Stiffs lived in Langer Road and survived the flood by being rescued by a boat skippered by local optician Mr Maule on the Monday. Herbert and his sister Ada who lived in St Edmunds Road survived.
George Taylor aged 84 and wife Mary Ann Taylor aged 82 of 26 St Edmunds Road.
The Taylors had moved from Trimley to be near their beloved Bowling Club after spending some time in Laxfield where Mary came from. As they lived in a bungalow they were unable to escape the surge water and the cold. They are buried in Laxfield.
Waypoint 10 - St Edmund’s Church
St Edmund’s Church was one of the many buildings affected in this area. At Langer School next door classes were rescheduled to Causton School in Maidstone Road before the pupils were able to return in June 1953. St Edmunds church repairs took until late July 1953 with funding for repairs coming from many British churches and even churches as far afield as South Africa.
Route for the Torchlight Procession
1 Start - Flood memorial Langer Road
2 - Nacton Road – Dolphin Car Park
3 - Levington Road Ambulance Station 51
4 - Orford Road – site of Prefab houses
5 - Langer Road – site of prefab houses
6 - 131 Langer Road
7 - Tacon Road
8 - Site of Cavendish Hotel
9 - St Edmunds Rd - bowling club
10 End - St Edmunds Church
Refreshments are in the Church after the procession