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Stories From The Flood

Carole Josey Remembers

In 1953 there were 6 of my family living in 205 Langer Road spanning 4 generations. My sister Ann and I, my parents, my Grandmother and Great Grandmother.

My mum was the first to wake in the early hours and got up to investigate the unfamiliar noises. It was a bitterly cold moonlit night and the wind was ferocious. Looking out of the window she panicked when she saw the water all around.

Whilst the water was rising, reaching from the stairs, using an old war time black out curtain pole Dad managed to unhook our coats, one by one, from the coat rack in the hall before the filthy water claimed them.

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Carole today with Jennifer Ted

In the new daylight I am in the back bedroom huddled on the bed with mum and sister, Ann. She had her leg in plaster and had to be carried everywhere.

I was very worried about my teddy bear, Jennifer, left downstairs the night before. Despite the name, he’s a boy bear which I had only had for 3 months, a present from my grandmother for my 4th birthday. Also downstairs were our new Christmas presents- Ann’s dolls house and my splendid cart. But it was Jennifer I could not stop fretting about.

My grandmother and great grandmother were in their bedroom at the front, still in a state of shock and distress. They were witnessing the unfolding terror of the poor people in the prefabs across the road through their window.

We kept warm as dad lit a fire in the bedroom hearth and broke up a small cupboard to keep it going.

After rising to a height of over 6 feet the water level dropped enough to allow Dad to venture downstairs during the morning. The force of the water had burst open the front door and the windows were smashed. Wading through the living room he was met with a scene of devastation. Even Mum’s knitting was a forlorn sight, the ball unravelled and yards of wool drifting in and out of a broken window.

But floating on the settee- dry and safe …..was Jennifer. We evacuated together to safety and have remained together these past 70 years.

Nina's story - the Waite family

At the time of the flood in January 1953 I was living at 106 Langer Road, Felixstowe, in a prefab, with my parents. My father, Wyndham Robert (Bob) Waite and my mother, Ione Waite (Nee Mason). As a child I recall my mum speaking of things that had happened over that time.

I went to Langer Road Primary School with my friends until the night of the flood, 31st January 1953.

On that fateful night, my dad was working away, as he often did. He was, by this time, an Electrical Engineer and his job took him all over the UK. My mum wasn’t well and so we went to stay with my grandmother in Holland Road, this saved our lives.

The first memory I have of that night was being dragged upstairs by my nan, who was all of 5 feet tall! The next morning I remember seaweed in the road but I was obviously shielded from the horror of what had happened.

Sadly my close friend Angela Tong died, along with her Mum, Joan. They had managed to climb onto the roof of their prefab but as it was such a cold night, they both died from exposure. Frank, her dad, survived and came to live with my nan for a while. It must have been so hard for him to see me running in and out when his own little girl had perished.

Our prefab had come adrift and floated down Langer Road and stopped, blocking the way, outside the grocer shop.

I remember being taken to the Pier Pavilion where companies and organizations had set up stalls to donate to the people who had lost everything. Being a child, I particularly remember the tins of candy handed out by the USAF!!

My parents had wanted me to go to the Convent to school initially but I hadn’t wanted to, preferring to be with my friends. As an only child, and probably quite spoilt, I was listened to but following the flood I was enrolled at the Convent. The Nuns were so kind and looked after me.

We were rehoused by the Council on the new estate, which was in the process of being built. Our house was 5 Waveney Road, and the Stodard family lived next door to us. The Reeve/Chapman family were also in the same road.

 

My mum Ione Waite said to the BBC “I realised that lots of people had been drowned... my daughter was six at the time and she lost ten of her friends."

Pictures courtesy of the Waite family particularly from Ione Waite’s estate

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The Waite house which moved off its foundations to finish up at Langer Road/Tacon Road junction.

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Nina around the time of the flood in a dance production

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The Waites foundations left after the flood

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Holland Road where the Waites spent the night and were saved as a result

Ronald Frank Studd

Based on an account by his daughter, Jean Hallinan

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My father was born in Felixstowe on 14th February 1915 and died in the floods at Felixstowe just a few days before his 39th birthday. He was a plasterer by trade, having done his apprenticeship in Felixstowe. When the war broke out my parents were living in Kent, and he went into the Army. This took him to several countries including India, Belgium and just before he was demobbed, he was in Germany. At that time, he was a Sergeant and while they were waiting to be sent home, he was taking his men for exercises on the third floor of an old building and when it became too hot he went to open a window and when he pushed it the window fell out and my father landed on a cobbled street. He had to be immediately sent by plane to England for treatment where he had many surgeries on both feet and legs. He was gone for a long time, and I remember going by train to visit him. I remember one day (without any warning) an ambulance turned up and he was carried to our front door by two men. He had two walking sticks and could barely get himself from his chair to the bathroom. It took a very long time before he could eventually get back to his trade. Eventually, we moved from Ipswich to Felixstowe and at the time of the floods we were living in Langer Road in one of the prefabs, he was able to do his plastering again and it seemed that things were looking up.

 

On that evening my mother woke up and could hear water and found that it was coming up the front steps. My parents rushed around and put items at what they thought was a safe height and told me to get dressed but by that time it was obvious that we just had to get out and there was just enough space to leave by the back door and to hold on to the eaves. It was so cold it was hard to hold on and after a while, my mother said she couldn’t hold on anymore. We told her to hold on under her arms as we were doing. By that time, it was very quiet, just the wind and the water but no longer any voices calling to each other. My father said you two can’t carry on like this I will find something to wedge under your feet so you can get on the roof. He let go and almost immediately I heard him call out and I knew that I would never see him again. Eventually, my mother said do you think you can push your feet against me and climb up that way. I don’t know how I managed it as I was not at all athletic, but I managed to do it, scramble onto the roof and roll over and pull my mother up by her armpits. We then crawled up to the chimney and hung onto it to stop ourselves blowing off. I felt very, very tired, I put my head on her shoulder and the next thing I remember was hearing voices and crockery and I opened my eyes to find a young nurse sitting beside me.

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She told me I was in Felixstowe Hospital, and she had been told to watch me and if I showed any sign of life to alert Sister. She told me not to move around as my head had been bleeding and they did not want it to start again and that my mother was in another ward.

 

I believe his was the 39th body to be to be recovered in the doorway of the Co-Langer Road (the building now next to the memorial garden. I did not see him but was told he had a large bruise on his forehead. I regret that I did not see his body, but in a way, it was probably not a very wise thing for a 13 year old to see him after he had been in the water for so long.

 

It took me several years to be able to put it all into words and I have missed my father very much. All I have of him is a small silver cross and chain which he bought me for my First Holy Communion and I wear it all the time. My uncle saw it shining in the mud when he was allowed into the house when the water receded.

 

He was a hard worker and a great husband and father. I have had his gravestone refurbished but am sad that I cannot travel to see his grave again but have had a remembrance added to my mother’s gravestone in St Peter and St Paul Catholic Church in Appleby, Tasman District, New Zealand.”

Ronald is buried in Langley Avenue Town cemetery and is remembered with the other 40 victims on the Flood Memorial in Langer Road- ½ a mile away from where he lived in the prefabs. His grave has the fitting words He gave his life helping those he loved! We can now understand why those words are so appropriate.

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