The beaches were closed at 5.00pm on 2 July 1940 and were mined and guarded with barbed wire. Both the Palace Pier and West Pier had sections of their decking removed to prevent their use as landing stages in a possible enemy invasion. The town was declared no longer to be a "safe area" and 30,000 people were evacuated.
Brighton was attacked from the air in 56 recorded bombings between July 1940 and February 1944. On 14 September 1940 the Odeon Cinema, Kemp Town was bombed killing four children and two adults along with a further 49 people in the surrounding area.
At 12.25pm on 25 May 1943 the town was attacked by 25 to 30 German Focke-Wulf 190 aircraft. 22 bombs of 500 kg were dropped and the streets were machine-gunned during the five-minute raid. Fatalities included ten men, twelve women and two children. An additional 58 people were seriously injured and a further 69 people were slightly injured. 150 houses were made uninhabitable and more than 500 people were made homeless. One of the central piers in the 20-metre high London Road railway viaduct was demolished. There was severe damage to railway workshops and rolling stock.
By the end of the war 198 people had been killed during the air raids. On VE Day held on 8 May 1945, the Mayor read a proclamation of victory from the Town Hall.
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