Got a very interesting email from David Stafford this week... David wrote just had this document passed to me from Joe Lloyd a local historian and railway enthusiast. It depicts air raids over Hyde in the second world war if anyone has any update or comment regarding this article please pass them to me and i will forward them to Joe so he can update it.
CASUALTIES IN WORLD WAR 2 AIR RAIDS ON HYDE
By Joe Lloyd
Research in 2014 at Tameside local studies & archives in Ashton-under-Lyne, found the following information in a file from Hyde Town Clerk’s Office (where by coincidence he had commenced his 35 years career in local government), and this research was prompted by his childhood recollection of his family home at 31 Stockport Road being twice damaged in air raids.
It appears that the first bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe on Hyde, were on the evening of Sunday 22nd December 1940. People may have taken to their shelters or cellars prior to this when the air raid sirens had wailed, but no record has so far been located of previous bomb-dropping.
On this Sunday evening about 8pm, a stick of bombs was released, and they fell:
1. In a field close to Brookfold Lane and adjacent to the railway boundary fence, at the other side of which was the engine-turntable at the end of Godley Junction Station’s wagon sidings – a near miss! The pond adjacent to the crater has sometimes been referred to as being the crater, but no it was fished in pre-war times by Joe for jack sharps or tiddlers.
2. Also fairly close to that railway line from Godley to Woodley and beyond to Liverpool etc, this bomb fell in the then un-used part of Hyde Cemetery, close to the rear of the long terrace of houses in Peel Street, where windows and roof damage was inflicted but no personal injuries evidently known. It was this bomb which left a hole in Joe’s attic bedroom roof with a lump of shrapnel on his bed that had been flung through the air some 150 yards out of that Cemetery. Fortunately he and the rest of his family as well as neighbours, 12 folks altogether had been in the cellar, a regular group when the sirens sounded.
3. Not very far away, a bomb made a direct hit on No. 5 Tower street demolishing it and damaging adjacent properties. The Leah family lived at No.5 and tragically the two children Harold age 6 and Thomas age 5 were buried and killed in the house debris, found in the early hours of 23rd December by the Rescue workers, Parents Thomas and Annie both were taken to the Lake Hospital survived their injuries.
4. Most tragically and just as worshippers were leaving St. George’s Church evening service, this bomb exploded on the dentist’s property in Church Street, demolishing it and so very sadly 6 people were killed outright and others were injured and were treated at the Lake Hospital or at the First Aid Post (FAP) located in the Union Street Technical School. Those who lost lives were – Miss Doreen Gardner, 17, a glove worker of 3 Hawthorn Grove; Frank S. Sharp, 44, a gardener of 2 Green Street; Ernest Waddington, 54, a boot repairer of 328 Market Street; Mr J.J. & Mrs Margaret Sudlow, 71, of 124 Dowson Road; and Norman Hinchcliffe,20, an apprentice bricklayer of 56 Newton Street.
5. A high explosive bomb had damaged a corner of the top floor and roof of Slack Mills Cotton factory, overhanging Market Street, causing a fire that was apparently quickly extinguished.
The above incidents were occurring when very much damage was being inflicted in Manchester and Fire Crews from Hyde had been called there to assist. There is a letter from the Town Clerk of Stretford notifying the death on duty there of Hyde’s Auxiliary Fireman J.T. Hallas of 11 Castle Street, off Commercial Brow, on 23rd December 1940 fighting a fire at a Trafford park timber yard and extending his Councils sympathy for the Hallas family and appreciation for the assistance rendered by Hyde crews. Those air raids of 22/23 December became known as the Manchester Blitz, referred to later.
There is a very detailed report, dated 8 January 1941 from Hyde’s Chief Constable Mr W.H Smith to the council’s Air Raid Precautions Committee, concerning this second consecutive night’s air raid (23rd December 1940), when enemy aircraft were overheard just after 7pm, after sirens had sounded. Reports of incidents quickly came to the Control Room, immediately responded to of, incendiary bomb in field near Talbot Road; houses near ICI Rexene and house 291 Dukinfield Road both on fire.
By 8.50pm more incendiaries were reported, at Dunkirk Farm, Hyde Junction, Hyde Spinning Co’s mill in Ashton Road and in Bennett Street.
Just after midnight (23/24 Dec) there were reports of flares at Godley and near the Cenotaph on Werneth Low, a basket of incendiaries near Godley Station and an unexploded bomb (UXB) at Ewen fields with another near 148 Sheffield Road. More incendiaries, perhaps 100, on the north side of Werneth Low/Hyde’s Farm (windy harbour) as well as 13 location where suspected UXB’s had fallen, but at that stage the only evident craters were in the grounds of Brookside House and 10 Vale Avenue so residents from that vicinity of Godley were evacuated and moved to a temporary Rest Centre in the Theatre Royal where unable to be accommodated with relatives/friends. The adjacent main road A57 was temporarily closed from the Bankfield to Four Lane Ends, Hattersley. Seven heavy calibre UXB’s were found in that vicinity by Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Teams from Ashton Barracks, working there from 27th December until 7th January. When all the suspected locations of UXB’s had been searched, it was found that many had been faulty flares, anti-aircraft shell nose-caps or shrapnel fragments.
The Chief Constable in his report paid the greatest tribute to the many people in the various services, employed and volunteers, who had responded in dealing most efficiently with these incident described.
It appears Hyde suffered its next air raid damage on the evening of 11th March 1941 about 10pm when;
1. A bomb exploded in Stockport Road in the carriageway in front of the terrace No. 29-37, leaving a large crater, bursting a water main and with the tram lines suspended over that hole. Sadly there was a fatal casualty, the Firewatcher Thomas Wright, 64 of 13 Knight Street who had been on duty at the street corner; another person was treated at the Lake Hospital and three others at the FAP; front walls of those terraced houses were shattered.
2. Another bomb made a direct hit on terraced houses not very far away, in Meadow Avenue adjacent to the buildings of Redferns Rubber works; fortunately the completely-demolished house’s occupants were not at home and from the very badly damaged one next door Mr and Mrs E. Hooley, 68 & 60 had a remarkable escape, having at the last minute ducked under the solid dining table and scrambled out unhurt helped by the Air Raid warden;
3. Another bomb exploded on houses in Syddall Street that were badly damaged and had to be demolished, with some damage too caused to properties at the rear in Edna Street; two people’s injuries were treated at the Lake Hospital, others at the FAP.
During this evening’s air raid a member of the Rescue/Demolition squad was affected by coal-gas from damaged mains and one of the Policemen had a leg injury, both treated at the FAP in the Union Street Technical School.
Merseyside was also attacked on this same evening, 11th March 1941, after which a letter came from Wallasey’s Medical Officer of Health notifying the loss of life of two Hyde residents in the air raid on that town – Paul M. and Amy Arnfield of 14 Copeland Street.
There were undoubtedly many evening’s or night-times when air raid warnings were given but there is no record on that file of further casualties until 1944 is reached. However, in one of the splendid books compiled and published by the LIVING MEMORIES OF HYDE SOCIETY entitled ‘’HYDE – WARTIME MEMORIES’’ there are several pages of recollections of Vera Wood (now residing, in 1996 that was, in Australia and whose parents had a cake shop at 35 Clarendon Place) and in her diary she had recorded that the first night the sirens were heard was around 3.15am on 20th June 1940, with ‘All Clear’ sounding at 4am, going on with this log until leaving Hyde in 1942, sometimes as many as 5 alarms in one night and on the night of 22/23 December 1940 mentioned already, her family were in their shelter for over 11 hours, and her diary shows 175 alarms from June to December 1940.
Reference to another publication (reprinted in 1995 from the original published by Kemsley Newspapers Ltd. In 1945) entitled
‘’OUR BLITZ – RED SKIES OVER MANCHESTER’’
Tells that when that first warning came on 20th June 1940, as Vera Wood correctly recorded, although enemy aircraft were heard over Manchester, there were no bombs, no ack-ack guns fired or other incidents, but on 29th July a stray aircraft dropped a bomb in the Salford area. Thereafter there were some scattered raids and it was the end of August 1940 before any bombs landed in the City of Manchester, there had already been severe attacks on Sheffield, Coventry and Birmingham; and it was on that same night just before Christmas when the first bombs were dropped on Hyde, that the onslaught on Manchester really began; Liverpool had been heavily attacked on the two previous nights and had also continued across Merseyside. That book records that the Manchester area’s last alert was the 329th between 1940 and July 1942.
Whilst the south of England had been in range of and suffering from the consequences of Germany’s V1 Rockets/’buzz bombs’ or ‘doodlebugs’ only now were other parts of the country coming under attack, evidently from these V1s being conveyed ‘piggy-back’ on top of heavy aircraft to our East Coast ( Hull area perhaps) where the rocket motors were fired up and launched westwards. In wartime, to keep up morale, one did not hear about troubles elsewhere, even in neighbouring towns, so it was a big shock in the early hours of Christmas eve 1944 to hear the unusual but unmistakeable roar of that rocket engine, then suddenly being shut off and hold one’s breath to hear an explosion and wonder where it had landed. How many more came this far westwards?
Only on Christmas Day morning did we learn – and go and see – where that spot was. Surrounded by hundreds of acres of open fields between Harrop Edge and Godley, it had exploded and demolished Westwood Farmhouse, opposite the New Inn across Mottram Road, where the Foulkes family had gathered to stay for Christmas. Sadly two of them were killed, arriving at the Mortuary at 7am Christmas Day – they were the farmer’s 17 years old son Gordon and Elizabeth Greenwood, 70, of Old Road, Failsworth and were both buried in Failsworth Cemetery. Others of the Foulkes family and also neighbours from the adjacent houses Westwood and the Glen were injured; miraculously 5 others who were in the farmhouse were uninjured.
Those surviving records would have been so much more valuable had it been possible to locate another file ‘’A Register of War-damaged Buildings in Hyde’’ that may not have passed from Hyde Town Hall in 1974 to Tameside Council.
POSTSCRIPT – It would be interesting to learn the extent of the air raid damage inflicted on the other towns around Hyde
In ‘OUR BLITZ – RED SKIES OVER MANCHESTER’ it is stated that nearby Stockport escaped relatively lightly and perhaps was the most fortunate of all the towns in greater Manchester, although on one evening thousands of incendiaries fell on Stockport from aircraft many thousands of feet overhead, causing many fires evidently very quickly tackled, but there was damage to some hundreds of houses and personal injuries with only four people killed.
The Manchester area was protected by dozens of barrage balloons and by batteries of anti-aircraft guns – but where were those guns located: were any in Hyde or surrounding towns? It has been said that there was such a battery on Werneth Low – The home Guard had a base at Windy Harbour but never possessed that weaponry. Ashton Moss could have suitable position? It is believed an ack-ack battery was at Melland Camp, Mount Road near Belle Vue. There was an observation Post to spot incoming bombers, with a bunker close to Hare and Hounds pub – it is still there, alongside the much more recent car park, hardly visible above ground level.
Mention has never been heard of our Interceptor Fighters being involved when these Manchester area air raids occurred – certainly the sound of their Rolls Royce Merlin engines would have been so distinctly recognised against the dull throbbing engines of the heavy bombers. It would be interesting to learn whether our Fighter Planes were ever in action here at the time of the Manchester Blitz and if so, where were their RAF bases?
Enemy aircraft heading for Manchester, once over the Pennines must have had a splendid navigational pointer below them in the line of the Longdendale Valley reservoirs, the Woodhead railway line and the large water expanse of the Denton and Audenshaw reservoirs and then would probably be flying near or directly over Hyde, where any bomber crew not wishing to be entangled in ack-ack flak or barrage balloons, could conceivably have been jettisoning their bomb load over our town before high-tailing it off home!