Mary Witney (sometimes ‘Whitney’, later Judd) was the daughter of a farm labourer. She married in 1928 and had a daughter four years later. In 1943 she was living at Lower Anchor Street in Chelmsford and it was there that she was killed, along with her husband, in May 1943 when their house was destroyed by a German bomb during the 'Chelmsford Blitz'.

Mary was born in Little Totham in 1904, the daughter of Thomas Witney and Esther Witney (nee Lamb). Her siblings included Thomas Witney (born 1902), Betsey Witney (born c1907), Herbert Witney (1909-1996), and Charles F. Witney (born 1911).

In 1911 the census found six year-old Mary living with her parents and three siblings at The Plains, Little Totham where her father was a labourer on a farm.

In 1928 she married William James Judd and four years later the couple had a daughter, born in the Chelmsford registration district.

In 1943 Mary, her husband and daughter were living at 19 Lower Anchor Street in Chelmsford. The property was an old terraced house on the road’s northern side between The Orange Tree and The Queen’s Head pubs. In the early hours of 14th May that year Chelmsford experienced what was to prove to be its heaviest air raid of the war. In a sharp attack that lasted for just over an hour, the German air force, the Luftwaffe, dropped a large number of high explosive, incendiaries and parachute landmines which caused extensive damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties in the town, and led to the deaths of more than 50 people.

Among the dead was Mary, one of eight people who died as a result of a 250 kg high explosive bomb which scored a direct hit on 22 Lower Anchor Street. Her husband was also killed, as were Henry William Smith and Joan Miriam Smith at number 24, Sidney Arthur Westrip, Cissie Kezia Westrip, June Westrip and Gwendoline Iris James at number 22.

William and Mary's 11 year-old daughter lay entombed in the wrecked home, having been trapped in the rubble for some time. She was eventually rescued via a cellar by Senior Warden Charles Alfred Brett, formerly the head gardener for thee late Mayor, John Ockelford Thompson. Mr. Brett was subsequently praised by the Regional Commissioner for his efforts. His son Alfred George Brett was to die later in the war.

The bomb demolished numbers 21, 22, 23, 24 & 25, while numbers 19, 20 & 26 were damaged beyond repair, and numbers 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36 were seriously damaged. Across the road the explosion seriously damaged numbers 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96 & 97 which stood opposite the scene of the bomb.  

Mary left an estate valued at £392 8s. 3d.


Mary JUDD (nee WITNEY), Civilian

Killed during an air raid in Lower Anchor Street, Chelmsford. Aged 39