A COMMEMORATIVE service is set to be held to mark 75 years since a bomb hit Canvey.

July 22, 1944, is a day that remains strong in the memory of any resident who was alive at the time.

A doodlebug bomb hit Canvey, landing on two homes in Deepwater Road, killing four people and injuring 30 as well as damaging 150 homes.

Monday marks 75 years since the fatal incident, and residents will gather for a special service to commemorate the day.

Former councillor Ray Howard has lived on the island his whole life and lost two brothers and a cousin in the incident. He has taken a lead in organising the service.

There will also be the unveiling of a new marble plaque carrying the names of the four who died after the explosion, while a commemorative book has been put together, looking at Mr Howard’s experience and highlighting how he was saved by the only nurse on the island - Nurse Andrews.

He said: “The island was entirely different 75 years ago.

“It was almost all farms, and there were small packets of development, but nothing like it is today.

“If I am honest with you, I am very thankful I was so young and I have no memory of the bomb hitting the island.

“But it is very important that we remember incidents like this, and the Great Flood, which have shaped the community on Canvey.

“People are interested, and always want to learn about the doodlebug, so it is important we commemorate it.

“I regularly think of the devastation that bomb would have caused if Canvey had been the way it is today; it would be total devastation.”

On July 22, 1944, at about 11.30am a Spitfire had been chasing a German V1 doodlebug flying bomb along the Thames, trying to stop it reaching London.

The usual practice was to try and upturn the bomb and leave it to explode at sea.

However, on that day, the doodlebug veered towards Canvey, narrowly missing the Red Cow pub – which went on to become the King Canute, before it was converted into flats.

It landed on two homes in Deepwater Road, killing Mr Howard’s brothers Eric, seven, Peter, five, and their cousin Betty Brace, who was delivering papers.

Neighbour Peg Scott was also killed. It was the only bomb to hit Canvey during the Second World War.

Among the injured were Mr Howard’s mum Elizabeth, who lost the baby she was carrying, and his older sister Doris. But it was Ray, who was only two-and-a-half, who bore the brunt of the flying glass and shrapnel.

He spent the next six months in Rochford Hospital and for the next seven years of his life visited the hospital to have glass removed.

The service will be held at Canvey Heritage Centre, Canvey Road, on Monday at 11.15am.