The Sheffield Blitz – 12th & 15th December 1940
The first night of the Sheffield blitz was a terrifying time, my father remembered. The German Luftwaffe bombing on 12th December 1940 was one of the worst bombing raids in England at the time. The city was targeted because of the many steel factories and armaments in the East end of Sheffield.
My nine-year old father remembers the first night and the yellow alert at 18:15, purple alert at 18:45 and final red alert at 19:00 when they all rushed to the air raid shelters…and the waiting…
My father recalled the sound of the German Stutkas with the single-engine monoplane. ‘First it sounded like a slow hummm, hummm, hummm sound as the planes arrived over Sheffield,’ he said. ‘It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard. Nothing but the sound of the bombs afterwards came close to the fear of that noise . We were absolutely petrified as we sat waiting in the shelters. All you could hear in those moments were the muffled sounds of children silently whimpering as their mother’s held them close.’
German Code Name – Operation Crucible:
At 19:41 the German Pathfinder unit dropped 16 SC50 high explosive bombs. There were also 1,009 B1 E1 and ZA incendiaries together with a further 10,080 B1 and E1 incendiaries.
As the planes dived, they were designed to cause as much fear as possible and carried sirens which sounded like a scream as the plane dove vertical to release strafe targets during machine gun fire. If that wasn’t frightening enough, then came the intimidating sound of the whistling bombs as they soared to their target.
Most bombs fell in the city centre. The last bomb fell at 04:00
My father was evacuated to a farm with his brother, my uncle Geoff (recently deceased two weeks ago) after the blitz, where he recalls great memories. But he also remembers how worried his family were about his older brother, Ron who was fighting in WWII. Although they tried to carry on with life as best they could, to add to my grandparents problems, their fish and chip shop business had just taken a turn for the worse when their shop came under threat from another one opening just up the road. The owners of the other fish and chip shop somehow managed to steal most of my grandparents customers. They don’t know what they did and how they did it, but they lost a lot of custom. The night of the blitz, the other shop got blitzed. How ironic. My grandparent’s business was a great success after that.
134 people were killed during the 12th December Sheffield blitz and were buried in a mass grave at City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.
The Blitz Garden
In a communal grave, there are 134 victims of the Sheffield Blitz. Most died in the bomb blast that hit the Marples Public House.
In total, over the two attacks (12th and 15th) , 660 people were killed, 1500 injured and 40,000 made homeless.
Uncle Ron survived the war and is still alive today.
By Jacqui 2013