WW2 bomb victim’s grave is marked after 70 years

Doris Margaret Linch
Doris Margaret Linch

THE UNMARKED grave of a pregnant Westfield woman who was tragically killed by a Nazi Doodlebug shot by the RAF has been provided with a cross 70 years later by an anonymous benefactor.

Doris Linch, 23, lived at Spring Cottage, Main Road when a doodlebug crashed into her house on July 3, 1944.

Married to Alfred Linch, Doris worked at an ammunition factory in Sedlescombe at the time of her death and was survived by her husband, her mother Florence Taylor and her two bothers, Frederick and George.

After hearing the story on BBC South East, a good Samaritan donated the cross.

Ken Munday, 83, who has lived in Westfield all his life and has been tending to Doris’ grave for the last 10 years, said: “The grave was unmarked because although the family wanted to put a stone, they didn’t because they left it to the husband. They didn’t want to upset him. But he didn’t ever put one down and he got remarried and moved away in the end.”

Although it has remained unmarked until now, Doris’ grave has been regularly cared for by close family members over the years. Audrey Taylor, 82, Doris’ sister-in-law, said: “I was thirteen when Doris died. My house was in the field next door. She was a nice girl.

“Her mother never got over it. She tended to the grave and when she got older she asked me to look after it. I’ve been going there for 25 years. Frederick, my husband and Doris’s brother, also looked after the grave and so did her older brother George until they both passed away. I try to get there when I can although it’s been difficult over the last few months because of the weather.

“I’m very grateful to the person who put the cross there. I’d say thank-you but of course I don’t know who it is.” Ken added: “I was 14 years old when she died. I didn’t know her well, just to say hello to now and again.

“I took over the mowing around the grave after her two brothers were unable to do it. They both had trouble with their legs so I starting mowing it. I’ve done that for about 10 years. They’ve both passed away now and the youngest brother, Frederick, died about four years ago and his ashes are buried at end of Doris’ grave.”

According to local historian Andy Saunders, 17 Doodlebugs landed in the parish of Westfield but to his knowledge Doris was the only fatality.

Andy said: “The Germans were launching doodlebugs off the French coast aimed at London. The doodlebug that landed on Doris’ house was actually brought down by an RAF fighter pilot.

“It was part of the British defence strategy.

“The feeling was that bringing them down in open countryside would result in less civilian casualties and most went into woods or fields.

“If a doodlebug hit a densely populated area like London the death toll would have been horrendous. But there were civilian casualties like Doris.”