Friends of Hastings Cemetery

Swan Inn - 1943 Bombing

Swan Inn – Civilian War Casualties

Plot OF & other locations

On 23rd May 1943 the Luftwaffe dropped high explosive bombs on Hastings and St Leonards. T he air raid was the second worst for the town in terms of casualties, with 25 people killed in total and 85 injured, 30 seriously.

Among the buildings suffering direct hits from the bombs in Hastings Old Town were the Swan Hotel, Swan Terrace and Reeve’s Antiques, all on the High Street

"Le Swane" was mentioned in 1523. The Swan Hotel had managed to stay open until May 1943 when it was completely obliterated during one of the worst air raids on the town.  The Hastings & St Leonards Observer reported that: ‘The attack was made by ten fighter bombers which, swooping out of low hanging clouds, crossed the coast at the eastern end of the town, and diving to roof-top height, dropped high- explosive bombs.’

First built in 1532, The Swan Inn was rebuilt in 1879 but was completely demolished in the 1943 air raid. Eleven Swan customers and two staff lost their lives in the attack, along with two children aged three and six.  One man and a dog were rescued from the ruins.

Today, the site is a Garden of Remembrance honouring the victims.

OF is the Civilian War Dead Plot (see map – middle of the top right hand boundary, as you look at it.)

Those killed were:

Trevor Gummerson, aged 3, was the son of Lance Sergeant John W Gummerson. Trevor.  His mother, Grace Rosina Gummerson, and his Aunt, Hilda Gummerson, were all killed


Violet Cox and her niece Anne Tester, aged 6, were live Vale residents and lived next door to each other.   On 23rd May 1943 Violet took Anne to the White Rock Pavilion.  They were walking home when they heard the siren and sheltered in the post office passage.  But the Swan landlord invited them to shelter in the inn.

Page: Swan death notices