Dr. Barnardo’s opened hundreds of children’s homes across the UK from Thomas Barnardo’s day until the 1970’s. During World War II the government required owners of large buildings, in particular stately homes, to use their buildings for the war effort. Some became hospitals for the war wounded, others centres of Allied operations, whilst others offered their homes for orphanages. Springfield Tyrells for a short while was one of these and a picture can be viewed here.
Bomber crash World War II
On 19th June 1940, a Heinkel bomber, one of a group of a hundred attacking London by moonlight, was shot and damaged by a Spitfire.
It circled Chelmsford two or three times before crashing across the garden of Springfield Tyrells, demolishing a wall, a fence, bushes and trees.
Disaster was averted by a matter of feet, as Springfield Tyrells was in use then by Dr Barnardo’s as an evacuation centre for girls aged approximately 7-15. There were about 50 of them in the house at that time.
The plane crossed Springfield Road and finally came to a halt in the grounds of Bishopscourt, home to the Bishop of Chelmsford.
Local rumour said that the Bishop himself had shot down the plane.
Leutnant E. Simon Heinkel, had parachuted to safety and landed near Writtle.
The other three crew, Oberleutnant (Flying Officer) Heinz-Georg Corpus,
Oberfeldwebel (Flight Sergeant) Walter Gross and Feldwebel (Sergeant) Walter Vick were killed in the crash.
The Bishop conducted the funeral of the three men a few days later.
On 24th June 1940 the Manchester Guardian reported:
“Three German airmen who lost their lives when their bomber was brought down in an Essex town during Tuesday night’s raid were buried in the town’s cemetery yesterday. Full military honours were paid by officers and men of the RAF and a firing party fired three volleys over the one large grave in which the three coffins covered with Nazi flags were interred. The Bishop of Chelmsford officiated. The Bishop’s wife was one of the mourners. There was a wreath from the RAF and another from girl telephonists of the AFS stationed in the town inscribed ‘When duty calls all must obey.’”