LATEST: Star campaign for Sheffield Blitz memorial

Feature on Maurice Wilkins who was a survivor of the blitz
Feature on Maurice Wilkins who was a survivor of the blitz
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We’re almost a third of the way to our £15,000 target for the Sheffield Blitz Memorial – thanks to brilliant Star readers!

The total has passed £4,500 as cheques continue to come into the fund, supported by The Star and masterminded by local historian and writer Neil Anderson.

The £15,000 is being raised towards the total £150,000 cost of a memorial trail through the city centre, with plaques marking 16 significant spots in the story of the terrible night of December 12, 1940.

Many Sheffielders have memories of that night when Hitler’s Luftwaffe rained terror down on the city.

Neil spoke to Maurice Wilkinson, who was one of the final customers at the King’s Head Hotel on Change Alley.

The hotel was one of many hostelries lost that night. Maurice’s luck held out right through the night despite the family home being hit.

Maurice said he still had what remains of the incendiary bomb that came through the roof and set fire to the attic in the Nether Edge home where he still lived.

After the war he went on to a career as a ballet dancer.

He had been on the way to collect a girl to go to a dance when he called in at the pub and heard there might be an air raid, so set off back home.

“When I turned up Chippinghouse Road there was a great incandescent pile on the footpath and I could hear aircraft up above. It was an incendiary bomb.

“I drove the rest of the way home like hell for leather. I’d lost a headlamp on the way home and my father was stood waiting for me.”

Maurice said the family did not have an air raid shelter, which saved them, because they sat in the cellar.

“You would hear a very shrill whistle and then, about two seconds later, you would hear the explosion. We thought we’d be dead in half an hour – we thought our time is now up.”

They smelled smoke and realised an incendiary bomb had set fire to the roof, so spent two hours fighting it.

The road outside was littered with 60 bombs but the family had survived.

n To support the appeal, log on to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sheffield-blitz-75th,.Donations can also be made to Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trust bank account (account 52118665, sort code 54-41-47) or cheques sent to Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trust, 88 Abbeydale Road South, Sheffield S7 2QP.