‘It was a sunny afternoon in Brighton on the 14th of September 1940. The local Odeon in Kemptown was showing a matinee with ‘The Ghost Comes Home’ on the bill. Unbeknown to the cinema-goers which included many children, a Luftwaffe Dornier German Bomber was being chased by a spitfire as it had become separated from its squadron.
In an attempt to gain more speed the bomber dropped its bomb load. The cinema-goers in the Odeon, known at the ‘titchy’ by some children to distinguish it from the larger Odeon, did not get any warning when two of the bombs fell on to them crashing through the ceiling. Descriptions from people in the cinema at the time describe the screaming and the chaos inside as the balcony collapsed. Many were hit by shrapnel from the exploding bombs and 6 died including four children. The other bombs hit the surrounding area and over 50 people died in total with many more injured. ( exact figures of the dead vary)
Going to the cinema was the highlight of the week for many people in this period and those who attended on that fateful day had no idea that this catastrophic incident would become part of what is known locally as the Brighton Blitz. A day that would be remembered locally by many Kemptown residents and still resonates today with families who have lived in the area for many years.
That many deaths in one incident would have had a profound effect on the area. This area was also heavily impacted by high death rates in WW1 at the battle of boars head.
It is 80 years since the tragic bombing and it is hoped that in the future a plaque will be installed commemorating the dead and injured from the bombing.’
Councillor Amanda Grimshaw