NINETEEN-FORTY THREE is also a truly significant year in the history of Bournemouth.

May 23 marked one the Luftwaffe’s most audacious daytime raids, when a squadron on Focke Wulfs swept in at low level and flew over the town centre.

Within five minutes, the enemy bombers would destroy 59 buildings and claim at least 130 lives.

Direct hits on the Metropole and Central hotels would take the heaviest toll on human life.

Other landmarks which were hit included the Beales, Bobby’s (now Debenhams) and the Central Hotel and Punshon Church, both on Richmond Hill.

The Focke-Wulf 190 aircraft had taken off from Caen less than half an hour earlier, 20 of them heading for Hastings and 26 to Bournemouth.

The air raid sirens sounded at 12.54pm and the planes came in over Hengistbury Head and Southbourne, flying at just 50ft or so.

Not one edition of the Daily Echo was published without mention of those who had either laid down their lives, or been taken prisoner, or won an award for their courage.

An example was the story of Capt Ewen Frazer of Hadleigh, Poole Road, Bournemouth, who attacked and cleared a machine-gun nest and then bayoneted four soldiers in the Western Desert. He was awarded a DSO.

The story was at last told of the spectacular courage of Sgt Flight-engineer J E Jeffrey of Parkstone.

He chose to remain in a stricken Stirling bomber, piloted by Flight Sgt Rawdon Hume Middleton, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Flight Sergeant continued flying after a shell hit his head, exposing the bone, and enabled five of his crew to parachute to safety before flying the plane out to sea to avoid loss of life on land.

Flight engineer Jeffrey chose to remain with the Flight Sgt, knowing full well it would be a miracle if he survived the ditching. He did not and was buried in Poole cemetery.

But there was happier news, of Able Seaman Alan Toms of Milton Green, New Milton. On his arrival home he recounted experiences which included “his ship, HMS Southampton, being sunk, being rescued by the submarine that torpedoed him, being a prisoner of war, interned by the Vichy French and then liberated by the Americans”.

Happy too were Mr and Mrs C Langridge of 127 Ensbury Park Road, who have a record as a fighting family that few can surpass, we reported. The Langridges have eight sons in the forces and two daughters engaged in national service.

There was also better news from the fighting, with victories on the Russian front, and fewer cases of scabies in Bournemouth.

Hun haters were also cheered by the decision to rename the Germansounding Lindbergh Road – named after the flying ace who was also a Nazi sympathiser – and to replace it with the name Franklin Road, after the American president.

“The fashion for using German names has not been so pronounced since the 1914 conflict so that there has not been the same need during the present war to go about obliterating disagreeable reminders of the enemy,” we lugubriously declared.

Housewives in Bournemouth learned to repair a kettle at makedo-and-mend classes and in March we achieved our town target of collecting 300,000 books for salvage and bombed libraries.

In July, noted amateur footballer Leslie Martin whose parents live at Shillito Road, Parkstone, was reported missing from operational duties and horrific air attacks left 11 dead in Bournemouth although, within hours, the bulldog spirit sees Union flags flying on the rubble of the destroyed homes.

Parkstone man Dennis Bounsall of 5 Weymouth Road, is praised for his heroic action as a stretcherbearer in Italy, where under fire, he managed to rescue all but one of the injured men in his company. And Master Leonard Pardy of 102 Wheaton Road, Boscombe, is equally praised for his white elephant stall which raised four pounds, 12 shillings for Merchant Navy Week.

At the end of 1942 Churchill and Roosevelt had agreed that a conference was needed to determine future strategy and political direction. The result was Casablanca. Stalin declined to attend on the grounds that his armies were busy defeating the Germans at Stalingrad and he had better things to do. This solved a dilemma for Churchill who distrusted the Russian leader and wanted talks without him.

The conference was held in two luxurious villas between January 14 and 23, 1943.

There were two key issues to be resolved. The first was the balance of war resources to be allocated to the European war and the battle in the Pacific. The second was whether the Allied invasion of Europe should be from the Mediterranean during 1943 or across the Channel, probably later. The conference was one of the most significant meetings of the war and was the point at which differences in viewpoint between Britain and America were resolved and a cohesive policy was followed by both sides of the alliance. Two months later in March 1943, Rommel fought his last battle in Africa at Medenine against the Eighth Army, knowing he could not win. Three days later he left Africa for the last time.