Lucy Emma Coulcher was a Londoner who remained a spinster all her life. She came to Chelmsford by 1934 and lived in Coval Lane. It was there that she was killed in May 1941 when a German bomb struck the block of flats where she lived.
Lucy Emma COULCHER, Civilian
Killed in air raid at Coval Lane, Chelmsford. Aged 78
The census of 1901 found 34 year-old Lucy living with her father at Limpley Stoke and a servant at Reeve Hill House, Limply Stoke in Wiltshire. Her father was a retired Post Office worker.
In 1911 45 year-old Lucy was recorded by the census living with her 80 year-old father and a servant at South View, 68 Bradley Road, Trowbridge in Wiltshire. Her father died in 1919, aged 87, leaving an estate valued at £1516.
Lucy was living in Chelmsford by 1934.
By 1941 Lucy, who had remained a spinster, was living at 22 Coval Lane in Chelmsford, one of ten flats in a block on the road's western side.
At 12.50 a.m. on 21st May 1941 she was one of six people who died as a result of a heavy calibre bomb dropped by a German aircraft onto the block of flats. What the intended target may have been is unclear. The resulting explosion demolished the flats. Sleeping residents, many of them elderly, were buried in the debris.
The rescue services, consisting of three stretcher parties, four ambulances, a sitting case car, police wardens and fire brigade were quick to arrive on the scene. Five seriously injured and three slightly injured people were rescued from the wrecked flats. However, five bodies were recovered and a sixth was to die in hospital later. Some 244 properties in the area suffered some degree of blast damage.
The other deaths were Esther Meggy killed at 18 Coval Lane, Winifred and Barry John Gowen killed at 26 Coval Lane, Winifred Kate Stokes killed at 28 Coval Lane, and William Howard, who was injured at 28 Coval Lane and died later in hospital. Ellen Barritt of 24 Coval Lane died on 29th May 1941 having been buried in her home until rescued.
Despite the large number of deaths in the Coval Lane incident and that at Marconi's New Street factory two weeks earlier, none of the emergency graves, which had been dug in the Borough Cemetery for such contingencies were required.
The Coval Lane bombing would prove to be Chelmsford s last major bombing incident for more than a year. Indeed there were to be just three more occasions when bombs would fall on the whole Chelmsford district in the rest of 1941.
Lucy's funeral service was held at the Cathedral on 26th May 1941 with burial at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery afterwards (grave: 6210) in a service conducted by the Rector of Chelmsford, the Very Rev. W. E. R. Morrow.
Lucy left an estate valued at £404 12s. 1d. with probate given to her brother Robert Vane Coulcher, a retired bank official.
Lucy was born in Camden Town, London in 1863, the daughter of Norfolk-born Robert Walpole Coulcher and Indian-born Harriett Coulcher (nee Brewer).
Lucy was baptised at St. Paul's Church in St. Pancras, London on 27th May 1863, when her father was a clerk for the General Post Office, resident at 18 Torsian's Terrace in St. Pancras.
Her parents had married at St. John s Church, Notting Hill, Middlesex in on 17th July 1855. At the time Lucy s father was a 24 year-old gentleman , while his bride was a year younger. The couple both lived at 11 Clarendon Road in Notting Hill.
Lucy's seven siblings included Evelyn Harriet Coulcher (1856-1856, she died aged 18 days), Catherine Jane Coulcher (1860-1885) and Robert Vane Coulcher (1867-1951). The other four children are thought to have died in infancy.
Lucy was recorded by the 1871 census, aged eight, living with her parents, two siblings and two servants at 4 Clifton Road in Kentish Town, Middlesex. Her father was a clerk for the travelling branch of the General Post Office.
In 1881 the census recorded 18 year-old Lucy living with her parents, two siblings and a servant at 39 Lansdowne Gardens in Vauxhall, Surrey. Her father was a retired civil servant. A decade later the next census listed Lucy, aged 26, living with her parents and two servants at 12 Shaa Road, Acton in Middlesex. Lucy's mother died in Middlesex five years later.