Diana Louisa Thompson was born in Hampshire the daughter of a professional soldier and grand daughter of a seven-time Mayor of Chelmsford. She was killed with them, her grandmother, sister and a servant when the Mayor's house in New London Road was struck and destroyed by a German bomb in October 1940.
Diana was born in 1939 in Hampshire, the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Cloverley Thompson and Muriel Morten Thompson (nee Heathcote). She had an elder sister, Audrey Mary Thompson, who was born in 1932. In 1940 their home was at Wilby in Northamptonshire.
On 13th October 1940 Diana, her sister and parents were visiting Diana's grandfather, John Ockelford Thompson, O.B.E., J.P., C.C the Mayor of Chelmsford at Brierley Place (number 52), New London Road in Chelmsford. At 7.30 p.m. a lone Luftwaffe aircraft dropped two bombs over the town. One of these, a high explosive, scored a direct hit on Brierley Place. 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 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 and her 14 month-old sister Diana Louisa Thompson.
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, a servant, were found. The four adults killed were subsequently identified as Diana's grandparents, her father and Alice Maud Emery, who was a servant for her grandparents.
The funeral service of Diana and the other Thompson family victims was held at Chelmsford Cathedral on 16th October 1940. Their five coffins were placed in the building overnight prior to the service. Their deaths had come as a great shock to the town and the Cathedral was filled to overflowing for the service which was conducted by the Bishop of Chelmsford and the Provost, the Very Rev. William Morrow. The congregation was swelled by a considerable number dignitaries from all over Essex and beyond. After the service the coffins were driven to the Borough Cemetery for burial, passing the remains of Brierley Place on the way. Large crowds lined the route. Diana was buried with her father and sister (grave: 6184).
Diana Louisa THOMPSON, Civilian
Killed during an air raid in New London Road, Chelmsford. Aged 1