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Civilian Margaret Annie Bridger, of Polegate, Sussex
20/04/2024
Second World War Civilian War Dead 1939-1945 United Kingdom
By Philip Baldock

United Kingdom

Civilian Margaret Annie Bridger
3152684
View record on CWGC
Died 23rd January 1943, buried Hailsham Cemetery

Margaret Annie Bridger aged 66, was born 1876, the daughter of Frederick Bridger and Charlotte Hollamby of Penshurst, Kent. Margaret was baptised on the 24th of September, 1876 at Penshurst (St Peter). The service being conducted by Geoffrey Clowes.

The 1881 census finds Margaret at The Gardener’s House on the Penshurst Place estate. Frederick aged 46, is (not surprisingly) a gardener born at Leigh. Charlotte aged 40 was born at Chiddingstone. Children recorded are Margaret aged 4 and Louisa aged 3, both born in the parish.

In 1891, the family were still as they were in the previous census.

By 1901, Frederick is still at Penshurst Place but is described as a market gardener on his own account and Margaret is now a post office clerk. By the outbreak of war she lived at 7 Moatcroft Road, Eastbourne.

On the 23rd January 1943, four tip and run raiders of 10/JG26, attacked the Western Avenue area of Polegate at 09.50 hours with bombs and machine gun fire which completely destroyed a pair of semi detached houses (see photo). A direct hit killing Mrs Bridger in one house and two people at number 19, including Margaret and her son in law Stanley Gifford. Stanley was a gunner (L/18128), in 8 Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery and is buried in Ocklynge Cemetery, Eastbourne.

 As well as the three people killed in this incident, a further two required hospitalisation and ten other received slight injuries.

Margaret was buried on the 29th of January at Hailsham Cemetery. The cemetery register records that she was a GPO Clerk and Telegraphist.

Notes:

1) During the attack, one bomb failed to explode and a Canadian despatch rider had a close shave when bullets punctured the tyres on his motor cycle. 

2) It is ironic that Polegate was attacked “by accident”. The attacking aircraft were four Fw190 fighter bombers of 10/JG26 that had set out to attack Hailsham, but mistook Polegate for their intended target. The pilots later claimed to have hit their target, dropping four 500kg bombs before attacking what they stated was an electricity power station. The formation then went on to attack the Old Town area of Eastbourne. As they flew over Beachy Head the aircraft of Uffz Immervoll, FW190A-3 5636 14+ was hit by machine gun fire from soldiers of Princess Patricia’s Light infantry, the aircraft crashed just off of Cow Gap and he was killed. Five days later, parts of his aircraft was washed ashore and two days after that the body of Uffz Immervoll was also washed ashore.

 

Polegate bomb damage (copyright unknown)