Lilian Ivy Arnold was a Londoner who was living in Chelmsford by 1941 when she married a soldier at Chelmsford Cathedral. She was killed in May 1943 during the 'Chelmsford Blitz' along with her mother and sister when her parent's house in Victoria Crescent was destroyed by a German parachute landmine.

Lilian was born in the Camberwell District of London in 1919, one of two daughters of Charles William Arthur Arnold and Lilian Annie Arnold (nee Mengell). Her father had been born in Camberwell, London in 1901. Her parents had married at St. Mary’s Church, Peckham on 16th September 1918. At that time her mother had been aged 18 and resident at 31 Seldon Road, Peckham; her father had been aged 19, worked as a motor driver and lived neraby at 36 Seldon Road.

Lilian's sister was Margaret Louisa Arnold, born in Camberwell in 1924.

On 1st March 1941 Lilian married George Sidney Taylor, a soldier and son of a police officer, at Chelmsford Cathedral. At the time both bride and groom were 22 years old, and were living at 10 Victoria Crescent, Chelmsford. Her father was a transport driver. Two years later Lilian was still at the same address with her mother and sister, while her father and husband were both serving in the Royal Artillery.

Lilian Ivy TAYLOR (nee ARNOLD), Civilian

Killed during an air raid at Victoria Crescent, Chelmsford. Aged 24

Several of those killed are believed to have been burned alive after being trapped in their Morrison shelters. Five other people were reported to have been injured in the incident.

The remaining six houses on the western side of Victoria Crescent, numbers 18, 20, 22, 24, 25 & 28, were seriously damaged. Across the road numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17 & 19 were damaged beyond repair, while the last six houses, numbers 21, 23, 25, 27, 29 & 31, were seriously damaged. In the streets close to Victoria Crescent, blast seriously damaged 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 & Homeleigh Cottage in the northern portion of Glebe Road; and 94, 96, 98 & 100 Marconi Road.

The loss of Lilian, her mother and sister was not the only tragedy to befall Lilian’s family during the war. Lilian’s aunt Dorothy Violet Mengell of 70 Landells Road, Camberwell, and her daughter (Lilian’s cousin) 8 year-old Beryl Dorothy Mengell were killed when a German V-1 flying bomb landed at the Co-op shop at the corner of Northcross Road and Lordship Road in East Dulwich on 5th August 1944. 21 others died in that incident.


In the early hours of 14th May 1943 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 were Lilian her mother and sister, who along with eight others died when a pair of parachute landmines, apparently intended for Marconi’s, narrowly missed the factory and struck residential areas. One fell to the north-west of the factory and scored a direct hit on 8 Victoria Crescent. The explosion there led to the deaths of nine people, the highest total from any incident within Chelmsford during the raid. Two others died when the other device exploded off Townfield Street.

The brunt of the blast from the Victoria Crescent landmine was felt by the terraced houses on the road’s western side, with numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 & 16, demolished. All the dead came from those properties: Gertrude Lily Byford and her daughter Bessie Lilian Byford were killed at number 4; Margaret Louisa Arnold, her mother Lilian Annie Arnold and sister Lilian Ivy Taylor died at number 10; and George Newman, Sarah Ann Newman and their children Alfred George Newman & Elsie May Newman were killed at number 14.