Alice Maud Emery was born in Writtle and for a time lived on the Hylands Estate. Around 1928 she began working as a servant for seven-time mayor of Chelmsford, John Ockelford Thompson. She was killed along with the mayor and four members of his family when their home in New London Riad, Chelmsford was destroyed when struck by a German bomb in October 1940.
Alice was born in Writtle in 1898 the daughter of the bricklayer William Edward Emery and Alice Emery (nee Sharpington). Her father had been born in Writtle in 1898; her mother in Springfield in 1865.
The couple had married at All Saints’ Church at Writtle on 27th April 1891. At the time her father was a 22 year-old bricklayer. His bride was three years his senior. Both lived in Writtle.
Alice's siblings, all Writtle-born, were Sydney Arthur Emery (1891-1971), Edith Emery (1893-1964), William Edward Emery (1894-1984) and George Alfred Emery (1901-1966).
The census in 1901 recorded Alice, aged 2, living with her parents and three siblings at Oxney Green where her father was a bricklayer. In 1911 the census found 12 year-old Alice living with her parents and three brothers at London Lodge on the Hylands Estate in Widford. Her father and brothers Sydney and William were bricklayer, game keeper and gardener respectively on the estate. In 1918 Alice's brother-in-law Cyril Thomas Gould was killed in France,
Alice became a servant for John Ockleford Thompson C.B.E. D.L. J.P around 1928, a prominent local politician, magistrate and newspaper proprietor in Chelmsford. She was still working for him and his family at Brierley Place (number 52), New London Road, Chelmsford.
Alice was killed on Sunday 13th October 1940 when Chelmsford suffered its most serious bombing incident of the war to date when a lone Luftwaffe aircraft dropped two bombs over the town. At 7.30 p.m. one of these, a high explosive, scored a direct hit on Brierley Place (number 52), New London Road, the home to the Mayor and his family. The bomb is believed to have passed through the building and exploded in its basement, ‘collapsing it like a pack of cards’.
Debris was strewn across New London Road and caused its closure between Queen Street and Southborough Road. The Mayor, his family and servants were at home and were thought to have been sheltering in the basement when the bomb struck.
The rescue services were soon at work on the scene and by 10.40 p.m. New London Road had been cleared. However, it was not until 1.01 a.m. that the first casualty figures were received at the Police H.Q. - “Ten people involved (actually nine) , two children recovered dead, three householders rescued but one injured, Mayor and Mayoress still unaccounted for”. The dead children were the Mayor’s grandchildren, 8 year-old Audrey Mary Thompson and her 14 month-old sister Diana Louisa Thompson.
Alice Maud EMERY, Civilian
Killed in New London Road, Chelmsford during an air raid. Aged 41
Their mother, Muriel who suffered serious injuries, was one of those rescued, along with a nurse and another daughter-in-law of the Mayor. By 5.31 a.m. a further two bodies were recovered, and by 11.50 a.m. another, the fifth fatality, was found. Rescue workers continued their search into Tuesday and in mid afternoon the remains of sixth body, Alice, were found. She had been blown to pieces. The other three adults killed were subsequently identified as the Mayor, 68 year-old John Ockelford Thompson and his 78 year-old wife Emma, and their 41 year-old son Lt-Col. Thomas Coverley Thompson. Alice was aged 41.
Alice was buried at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery, on 17th October 1940, in a service led by the Rev. K J Noakes (grave: 6185). At the time her parents were living at 70 Waterhouse Street, Chelmsford. The Thompson family victims of the bombing had been buried in adjacent graves the day before. Alice left an estate valued at £508 15s. 5d.
She is remembered on the Writtle war memorial. Her mother died in 1957 and was buried in Alice's grave; her father died in 1964.