Mystery of unknown Abbey End bomb victims may be solved

Memorials in Kenilworth commemorating the Abbey End bombings 76 years ago. NNL-161122-195744009

Memorials in Kenilworth commemorating the Abbey End bombings 76 years ago. NNL-161122-195744009

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The mystery of the unknown souls who lost their lives in the Abbey End landmine explosion in November 1940 may have been solved.

Thanks to an investigation by Kenilworth historian Robin Leach, it can be revealed that some of the unknown remains buried in Oaks Road Cemetery likely belong to George and Nellie Webb, who were sheltering in 5 Abbey End when the landmine fell.

Robin had been trying to find evidence as to whom the remains may belong, and realised an inquest was held into the deaths on the night.

He was allowed to access the inquest documents from 1941 at the Records Office, under agreement not to make the details public until 2017 because of a 75-year closure order.

Robin said: “It’s as close we can get. This was proper evidence rather than supposition, and a source at that time is always a more reliable source. The extra details are always interesting.”

From the inquest documents, a police officer Sgt Enoch Bennett testified the landmine fell at 2.45am right outside 5 Abbey End.

The only survivor from the house, Horace Snape, also testified that George and Nellie were closest to the landmine when it exploded.

Finally, testimony from Sydney Warwick Clarke of Windy Arbour confirmed 25 were killed that night, of which 21 were identified, one was not, and remains were found which could not be identified.

He went on to say: “It is probable that part of the bodies of the missing persons George and Nellie Webb were amongst those remains.”

Robin added: “Although there is a high degree of circumstantial evidence the grave is the final resting place of George and Nellie Webb, I understand the grave could only be marked as such if identification could be officially established.”

The grave of the unknown souls was recently marked with a new headstone, donated for free by John Taylor Funeral Services.

For more information on the Abbey End bombings, visit Robin Leach’s website here.