Henry William Smith was born in Suffolk and came to Chelmsford by 1911. He worked at the town's Hoffmann bearings factory. He married in 1929. He was killed with his wife in May 1943 when their Lower Anchor Street home was destroyed during a German air raid.

Henry was born in Lavenham, Suffolk in 1889, the son of Henry William and Mary Ann Smith. He had nine siblings, three of whom were to die by 1911.

The 1891 census listed Henry, aged one, living with his parents and two sisters at Water Street in Lavenham. At the time his father was a painter. A decade later the family, then totaling nine people, were resident at Union Yard in Chelmsford. Henry’s father remained a painter while Henry was an errand boy.

In 1911 the census recorded 22 year-old Henry living with his widowed mother and three siblings at 73 Waterhouse Street in Chelmsford. At the time he worked for the Chelmsford bearings company, the Hoffmann Manufacturing Company.

On 3rd August 1929 Henry married Joan Miriam Polley at St. Peter’s Church in South Weald, Essex. At the time he was 40 years old, a bachelor, employed as a slinger, and lived at 73 Waterhouse Street, Chelmsford,. His bride was aged 38 and lived in South Weald.

In 1943 Henry and his wife, Joan Miriam Smith, were living at 24 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 53 year-old Henry, 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. His wife was also killed, as were William Judd and Mary Judd at number 19, Sidney Arthur Westrip, Cissie Kezia Westrip, June Westrip and Gwendoline Iris James at number 22.

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.  

Henry and his wife were buried in grave 5505 at the Borough Cemetery on 21st May 1943.

Probate on Henry’s estate, valued at £368 1s. 9d., was later granted to Henry’s brother-in-law Joseph Harold Polley, a cemetery foreman.


Henry William SMITH, Civilian

Killed during an air raid at Lower Anchor Street, Chelmsford. Aged 53