Posts Tagged ‘raid’

UK’s biggest Second World War air raid shelter reveals life on Home Front

April 10th, 2015

Howard Green, the museum’s duty officer, said: “Chestergate, the street outside was busiest east-west routet the town; even at the levels of 1930s traffic it was too narrow. The long term was to cover over the River Mersey, which is where the M62 is.

“But in the interim, they decided to buy properties there and demolish them for widening and straightening.

“A lot of the older properties backing into the cliff had cellars and it seemed a pity to seal them up. There were things to be done, so there was talk of joining them together as an underground car park.

“The other thing was that in the lead up to the Second World War, local authorities had to establish public air raid shelters in towns.

“So they decided to join cellars together, get the grant for the air raid shelters, then they could get the money back twice by letting out the parking spaces.”

The biggest purpose built air raid shelter in the UK attracted terrified victims of the blitz from across Cheshire and Lancashire at the height of the war. The tunnels, dug into the sandstone cliffs running alongside the river Mersey in Stockport were state of the art in 1930s Britain, with electric lighting and flush toilets, and could hold up to 6,500 people.

Unfortunately for the council at the time, the car park proved impossible after the engineering survey.

Mr Green said: “The official capacity was 3,850, so outside they painted 4,000, but what they didn’t advertise was that they thought they could squeeze twice as many in if needs be.

“They were used extensively by people from Manchester and Salford, and even as far as Eccles.

“Stockport was less of a target, and the underground shelters were a particularly safe place, so they came on a regular basis, what they did was introduce season tickets, they were issued to locals, although you could write in if you had difficult circumstances. We still have some letters from people in Manchester who’d been bombed out several times.

The biggest purpose built air raid shelter in the UK attracted terrified victims of the blitz from across Cheshire and Lancashire at the height of the war. The tunnels, dug into the sandstone cliffs running alongside the river Mersey in Stockport were state of the art in 1930s Britain, with electric lighting and flush toilets, and could hold up to 6,500 people.

“It was really only a way of damping down demand, nobody was denied entrance in an alert.

“In the winter of 1940 and 41, it went up to 6,500, with another four sets of tunnel shelters. Once they had the format right, it was something that could be done elsewhere in the town, where they could get into red sandstone.

“If you know where to look you can see the blocked up tunnels of one set of shelters on the other side, where the M62 goes through Stockport; further back into hillside, you can see the tunnel cut short and bricked off.

“People are always surprised by is the extent of them, and just how much thought and planning went into them, we’ve had German visitors saying our government did nothing as elaborate.

“There were first aid posts, electric lighting and flush toilets, which people living in back to back cottages of town centres wouldn’t have had at home.”


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Take a tour of the biggest purpose built air raid shelter in the UK: In pics

April 7th, 2015

These tunnels that were dug into the sandstone cliffs running alongside the river Mersey in Stockport bacame state of the art in 1930s Britain, with electric lighting and flush toilets, and could hold up to 6,500 people

Picture: Dan Rowlands/Mercury Press & Media Ltd


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David Cameron defends Second World War RAF ‘heroes’ of Dresden raid

February 19th, 2015

The comments sparked criticism from Tory MPs who called the remarks “bizarre” and “an insult” to the young men who risked their lives.

“On the issue of the work of Bomber Command in the Second World War, I think that Bomber Command played an absolutely vital role in our war effort,” Mr Cameron said in a question and answer session at the Port of Felixstowe.

“One of the things I was very proud to do as Prime Minister was to make sure the people who served in Bomber Command got proper recognition with a new clasp on their medals.

“And it was a great honour to hand out some of those medals to people who have waited for many, many years for the recognition I think they deserve.

“I’m very lucky to occasionally get to jog around St James Park in London and I always stop and look up at the Bomber Command memorial that has been so recently built and dedicated and stop and think about those very brave people who took enormous risks with incredible loss of life on our behalf to save Europe, to save Britain from fascism, from Hitler.

The Bomber Command monument in Green Park (ALAMY)

“To me the people who served in bomber command are heroes of our country and they played a very important role in the Second World War.”

Up to 25,000 civilians were killed in a vast firestorm with hurricane-strength winds during the raid of 13-15 February 1945. Critics have said the raid, the most controversial British action of the war, was needless, given the closeness of victory. Defenders of the raid point to the large number of German armament factories in the city.

The comments contrasted with the tone taken by Archbishop Welby at a service to remember the bombings earlier this month.

“Much debate surrounds this most controversial raid of the allied bombing campaign. Whatever the arguments, events here 70 years ago left a deep wound and diminished all our humanity. So as a follower of Jesus I stand here among you with a profound feeling of regret and deep sorrow,” he said.

Tory MP Philip Davies criticised the comments, saying: “These remarks do sound to me like an apology. For the Archbishop to make an apology for our defeat of Hitler is bizarre. I would have thought the last thing we should be doing is apologising. We should be praised for defeating Hitler. These words are an insult to the young men who gave their lives in the defeat of Germany.”


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Dresden bomber Harry Irons remembers raid 70 years on

February 8th, 2015

Warrant Officer Harry Irons, DFC, joined the RAF in 1940 at the age of 16 as a rear gunner, flying in Lancasters with No. 9 Squadron.

On the night of February 13th 1945, two waves of RAF bombers, followed by the USAAF, dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the German city.

An estimated 25,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the resulting inferno that took place in the final months of the Second World War.

Although the raids had military objectives, the devastation was controversial.

Watch Mr Irons’ account of his experience of the raid, 70 years ago.

Mr Irons recalls his time with the RAF. Photo: Anthony Upton

Photographs and medals belonging to Mr Irons. Photo Anthony Upton

Mr Irons was involved in around 60 bombing raids during the Second World War. Photo: Anthony Upton


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