THE Pier Hotel, a prominent landmark on the corner of Tremeyrick Street and London Road, was destroyed in the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) ‘blitz’ on Pembroke Dock on the night of May 11/12 1941.

The Criterion Hotel opposite was also demolished, as a land mine – one of an estimated 15 dropped under parachutes along with other high explosives and incendiaries – fell on the town.

In a night of terror 30 townspeople were killed, along with two servicemen. Four other civilians were missing and a large number injured.

Bill Richards, then the West Wales Guardian’s reporter in Pembroke Dock, would record in his book ‘Pembrokeshire Under Fire’ that nearly 2,000 houses were damaged. A similar death toll of practically five per thousand would have given London 40,000 dead, Cardiff 1,000 and Swansea 800.

Casualties at the Pier Hotel included the proprietor, Rhys Morris, originally from Solva, and his 15-year-old daughter.

Research by the late Owen Vaughan, of Pembroke, identified others killed in the Pier Hotel, among them: Ellen Frances Saunders, daughter of Mr F T Nicholson, of 4 Tremeyrick Street, whose husband, Leslie, was serving in the Forces; Elizabeth Williams, the 32-year-old daughter of Daniel Williams of Llanview, Llanycefn – her burial place was not established – and an Australian, Stanley Herman Buxton, a platoon commander in the Pembroke Home Guard.

The following night, with real fears of a follow up raid, there was a mass exodus from the town, residents heading into Pembroke and out into the countryside.

“Pembroke Dock,” recounted Bill Richards, “was a dark, deserted, dismal town that night. No more than a few hundred remained to face whatever the midnight hours held……And so it was for the next night and for many nights after until gradually with the slackening of the air attacks, people began to return to their shattered homes”.

The town was to endure one more heavy raid – on the night of June 11, 1941. Some claimed it was even worse than that of May 11/12 but the death toll was much lower.

* Over the years there has been speculation that, with some still listed as having no known grave, it is possible that the area behind what had been the Pier Hotel may contain remains.

May 2021 sees the 80th anniversary of this devastating raid – perhaps this would be an appropriate moment to especially remember those who died at the Pier Hotel and elsewhere in Pembroke Dock in 1941.