75 years since bombs dropped on Doncaster

The devastation left after the Royston Avenue bombings.
The devastation left after the Royston Avenue bombings.
0
Have your say

Today marks 75 years since two bombs dropped on a Doncaster town, killing 14 people and seriously injuring many others.

Fay Mackintosh was just one year old when the bombs fell on North Road and Royston Avenue in Bentley on December 21, 1940.

Fay Mackintosh, of Bentley, pictured with newspaper cuttings from the Royston Avenue bombing. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP

Fay Mackintosh, of Bentley, pictured with newspaper cuttings from the Royston Avenue bombing. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP

Miraculously, although Fay and her parents, Reginald and Irene Smith, were very close to the explosion near the Sun Inn, neither she nor her father were injured.

Sadly, Fay’s mother was injured. She was lucky to survive but suffered life-changing injuries, losing her leg.

Too young to remember at the time, Fay, now aged 76, was told many times exactly what happened by her parents.

She said: “We’d been to visit my grandma who lived on Bentley Road, we were on our way home in the early evening.

Fay Mackintosh, of Bentley, pictured with a piece of metal that injured her mother during the Royston Avenue bombing. Picture: Marie Caley

Fay Mackintosh, of Bentley, pictured with a piece of metal that injured her mother during the Royston Avenue bombing. Picture: Marie Caley

“We were passing West End to go on to Watch House Lane back to Scawsby when the siren went off.

“My dad wanted to go in to my Uncle Rowland’s shelter on Royton Avenue, but my mum said no because she wanted to go home.

“My mum got her way and that was a blessing in disguise because when the bomb did drop my uncle, aunt Winifred and four-year-old cousin Douglas, who had been in the shelter, were killed.

“If we’d have gone to the shelter we’d have been dead with them. My mum was very badly injured, but at least she was alive.”

In another stroke of extraordinary luck, there was an RAF doctor near to the site of the blast who tended to Irene, then around 26 years old, before she was taken to hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, Reginald, who was around 27 years old at the time, had no choice but to leave his wife’s side so he could take Fay home to safety.

Fay said: “When my mum got to the hospital she said she asked one of the nurses how long she was going to be in for. The nurse told her it wouldn’t be long. When she was later discharged the nurse admitted that she thought she would be going out in a coffin. But, my mum was a very strong lady and she wasn’t going to let that happen.

“My mum was also given the piece of metal that hit her and I have it now.”

There is a memorial to all 14 victims of the bombing in Arksey cemetery. Among them are three members of two other families.

Fay, of Ayton Walk, Bentley, has laid a wreath on the memorial stone to mark the anniversary. Her parents have now died, but Fay is determined to keep reminding people about the events of that day for as long as possible.

She said: “They were local people who got killed, just going about their ordinary business, visiting relatives, out for the afternoon, probably getting ready for Christmas - and then this devastating thing happened in this corner of Bentley and Scawsby. I do think it’s important that people are aware that it’s happened.”