World War II

St Stephen’s during the Second World War

Canterbury was the target of several air raids during the Second World War. One of these, which became known as the Baedeker Raid, took place on the night of June 1st 1942. That night saw around 10,000 incendiary bombs and 445 high explosive bombs land on the city. Although St Stephen’s didn’t see the same level of destruction as the city centre saw, several devices fell around the local area.

On his retirement in 1960, the Rev. A. R. Barnes reminisced about war-time at St Stephen’s:

Memories of war-time St Stephen’s throng on me. I remember the children of the school rushing into the Rectory cellars when the air raid warning went. I remember Miss Hilton and I reciting the Litany in the Church when bombs were falling and the walls of the church seemed to be bending and falling. I remember rushing across to the Church in my pyjamas and helping to put out incendiary bombs one terrible night and another occasion when Mrs Barnes and I with a lot of St Stephen’s people were bombed in a bus outside Barretts shop

Rev. A. R. Barnes

St Stephen’s Parish Magazine 1960

In the churchyard of St Stephen’s are the graves of three service men who lost their lives during the Second World War. Inside the church is a memorial to Air Marshall Sir John Linnell who died in active service on 3rd November 1944, and to Sargent Ronald David John Campbell Carling who went missing in action on the night of 27th – 28th June 1944.

Inside St Stephen’s, looking west from the Chancel, 1943