Elizabeth Layzell (later Elizabeth Locke) married in London in 1916 and was widowed two years later when her husband was killed in the First World War. By then she had a son. By the late 1930s she was living in Chelmsford and in 1940 her home was in Henry Road. It was there that she was killed in October 1942 when a bomb aimed at Hoffmann's bearings factory in Rectory Lane, Chelmsford, deflected off the factory roof, passed through a house, and exploded close to her home on the western side of Henry Road. Her son was fatally injured in the incident.
Elizabeth was born in Little Wakering 1885, the daughter of Thomas Layzell and Eliza Layzell
She married Harry (sometimes 'Horace') Locke in London in 1916. The couple had a son, Dennis Wilfred Locke, born in London the following year who was named after Harry's brother who had been killed in 1916.
Elizabeth's husband, who served as Lance-Corporal with the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, died from wounds in France on 8th May 1918. After the First World War Elizabeth was living in Woodford Green.
By 1942 the widowed Elizabeth and her son were living at 44 Henry Road in Chelmsford, close to the massive Hoffmann's ball-bearings factory.
Hoffmann’s was a target for the German air force throughout the war. At 10.59 a.m. on 19th October 1942 a lone German Dornier Do 217E aircraft approached Chelmsford from the east at an altitude of around a thousand feet.
Taking advantage of low cloud and poor visibility the aircraft dropped to around a 150 feet to make a bombing run on Hoffmann’s approximately along the line of one of the factory’s railway sidings. Almost immediately Hoffmann’s light machine defences opened up on the raider, but other army posts were unable to fire their Bofors guns at the aircraft because of its extremely low altitude - the gunners would have been firing in the direction of nearby buildings and people.
The Dornier was able to release two 500 Kg SC high explosive bombs on the works, with delayed actions of about twenty seconds, and it also machine gunned the ground. With its bombs released the aircraft turned north-eastwards, circled to the north of Chelmsford and made off due east towards the coast, apparently unscathed.
Those on the ground were not so fortunate. One of the bombs scored a direct hit on the factory. It penetrated the roof and exploded in the recently completed Cage & Assembly Shop, (part of Hoffmann’s ‘C factory’, to the north of Rectory Lane). Four people died as a result of that bomb, six others were seriously injured, and 43 men and 16 women slightly hurt.
The other bomb deflected off the factory’s roof passed through a house in Henry Road (number 17), travelled some sixty feet across the road and into the front garden of number 45 Henry Road where it detonated. Five people were to die as a result. Among them was 57 year-old Elizabeth who died in the remains of her home (number 44). Her son was to die ten days later.
Two other people were seriously injured and two slightly injured by the bomb. Five houses were demolished outright (numbers 42 to 46), another nine were damaged beyond repair, a further six were seriously damaged and dozens more slightly so.
Elizabeth's funeral was held at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery on 23rd October 1942. Her son was buried in her grave on 3rd November 1942. Their grave (number 5381) is unmarked.
Elizabeth LOCKE (nee LAYZELL), Civilian
Killed in an air raid on Henry Road, Chelmsford. Aged 57