ARCHIVE photographs from the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre this week remember a devastating air raid on the town nearly 80 years ago.

During the winter and spring of 1940/41 bombers of the German Air Force – the Luftwaffe – ranged far and wide seeking out targets in the UK. Pembroke Dock, with its many military installations, was in the Luftwaffe’s sights.

The night of May 11-12, 1941 will forever go down in local history as Pembroke Dock’s night of terror.

The air raid sirens had sounded on 16 out of the previous 18 nights, but this proved to be the ‘real thing’. High explosives and incendiary bombs rained down over several hours, with an added terror in the form of ‘land mines’ – which floated silently to earth on parachutes before exploding.

In the morning light those residents spared death or injury viewed a very different town, with many streets and prominent buildings destroyed.

The western end of London Road was hardly recognisable. The Pier Hotel, at the bottom of Tremeyrick Street, had received a direct hit and, opposite, the Criterion Hotel was also no more. Buildings in Pier Road had their roofs and windows shattered while several terraced houses on both sides of Lower Laws Street had been completely wrecked. Post-war these were replaced by council properties – part of the street scene today.

Buildings in Gas Lane, the Market area and new properties in Park View Crescent were among other parts of the town savagely hit.

Locally-based journalist Bill Richards witnessed all this and recorded in his book ‘Pembrokeshire Under Fire’, first published in the 1960s, that 30 civilians and two servicemen had been killed, four were missing and many more injured.

Nearly 2,000 houses had been damaged – it truly was Pembroke Dock’s darkest hour.

Fearful of a repeat the following night and afterwards, hundreds of residents fled the town, into Pembroke and the surrounding countryside and villages, seeking shelter where they could.

Battered Pembroke Dock would endure one more big raid – on the night of June 11 – but the fear factor was always there.