Even before hostilities began, a shelter was built beneath Portland Square. It was here that more than 70 people were killed during a ferocious bombing raid during the night of 22-23 April 1941.
One of the child survivors, Arthur Davis, went on to serve in the Army, returned to Plymouth in the 1970s and eventually convinced the city council to erect a bench to commemorate the tragedy. It was only in 2005, when a lecture series marked the 60th anniversary of the war's end, that Christopher Groucutt, a member of the university's Faculty of Arts, asked why there was not a more appropriate memorial.
A formal fundraising campaign was launched in 2006, supported by interviews with survivors and extensive research into the raid, the casualties and the shelter. Although the remains of the shelter survive below the campus and were recently filmed by the BBC, they have since been closed on grounds of safety.
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