OAP who lost relatives in ‘worst’ bombing of Doncaster in WWII to join service

Margery White, who is asking for a memorial service for air-raid victims killed during WWII.
Margery White, who is asking for a memorial service for air-raid victims killed during WWII.
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PENSIONER Margery White will never forget.

And today, Doncaster will also remember the wartime night of horror bombing which has never been far from her memory.

Bombing at Balby Doncaster

Bombing at Balby Doncaster

May 9, 1941, is commonly regarded as the night the town suffered its worst bombing of World War Two, with 16 people killed and 73 injured.

Thirteen houses were blown up and more than 400 other houses were damaged by the blast of an explosive mine which was dropped by parachute over Balby – 19 of the houses had to be demolished.

Weston Road took the brunt of the damage when it was struck at around midnight.

The parachute mine landed only 38 minutes after other bombs landed in the Ellers Avenue area of Bessacarr, killing two people and injuring five more.

The dead were buried together in a row at Rose Hill Cemetery.

For Mrs White’s family, the tragedy was personal.

Her two teenage uncles – Arthur and Alfred Nortrop – were among those killed.

Today a memorial service for those who died will take place at Rosehill Chapel, led by the Rev Canon Dr Paul Shackerley.

The service has been organised by Doncaster Council and will remember all those who lost their lives in the town as a result of war time bombings.

Mrs White lived at Cross Street at the time of the May 9 raids.

She said: “My memory of the raid is my dad and a neighbour were standing out on a step when they saw all the dust go up from the blast.

“It was where his mum lived and he went running off to see what had happened.

“My main memory is of the effect, as we came to terms with losing my uncles.

“I remember the sirens gong off that night.

“Whereever you were you would go to the shelter to get out of the way. We took milk and crackers in case we were there a long time.

“Everyone who I spoke to from that time had thought it was the German paratroopers coming down, with there being a parachute.

“I’m going to the service today with my next door neighbour, Pat Walsh. Her home was demolished because of the bombs.

“Her dad was in the Home Guard. When he saw the parachute he went out with his gun to get what we thought were soldiers coming down.”

The next day, I had to go to Waverley School, instead of my own school, Woodfield, because it was unusable due to bomb damage.

“My grandma permanently wore mourning clothes after the deaths of her sons. She stayed in black for the rest of her life, because of the loss of Arthur and Alfred, and of another son, Raymond, who got blown up in Sicily.

“I regularly go to their graves. My dad’s plot is not far away, and I think I could have had two more uncles. I remember them as teenagers.

“It is important to remember what happened, because it affected a lot of lives.

“I will be going to the graves. I have ordered flowers and will put them next to both headstones. I will never forget them.”

It was the worst single loss of life in Doncaster during the Second World War, although there were other raids aimed at the Plant Works and neighbouring Sheffield suffered much higher casualties in late 1940.

Today’s service is at 11am.