William Howard was a Suffolk man who was living in Chelmsford by 1891. He worked as a pork butcher in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford. He married in 1908 and was widowed 30 years later. He was killed at his home in Coval Lane, Chelmsford in May 1941 when it was destroyed by a bomb dropped from an aircraft.
William as born in Halesworth, Suffolk in 1872, one of six children of Robert and Eliza Howard.
In 1881 the census listed nine year-old William living with his parents and five siblings in New Street, Braintree. His father was a harness maker. A decade later, aged 19, William was recorded by the next census at 5 Primrose Terrace, Primrose Hill, Chelmsford, with his parents and five younger siblings. He was a butcher's assistant while his father was still a harness maker. In 1901 the census found 29 year-old William boarding at a house in Arbour Lane in Springfield. He was by then employed as a butcher.
In 1908 William married Emily Stevens. In 1911 the census recorded 39 year-old William living with his wife and niece Winifred Howard at 13 Weight Road in Chelmsford. He was a butcher and still in that occupation in 1926 when he ran a butcher's business in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford and still lived in Weight Road.
William's wife died in October 1938. By 1941 William, was living at 28 Coval Lane in Chelmsford, one of ten flats in a block on the road's western side, with his niece Emily Stokes.
At 12.50 a.m. on 21st May 1941 he 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. William suffered serious injuries and was to die later in the day in Chelmsford & Essex Hospital.
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.
William HOWARD, Civilian
Fatally injured in an air raid at Coval Lane, Chelmsford. Aged 69
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.
William was buried at the Borough Cemetery on 28th May 1941, joining his wife in grave 4222.