When 99-year-old Doug Lightning unveiled the star exhibit at the city’s first permanent exhibition to the Sheffield Blitz yesterday, it was under rather different circumstances to their first meeting 76 years ago.
The historic Leyland vehicle was rushed into the city from nearby Barnsley on December 12, 1940 – the first night of the Sheffield Blitz.
It is truly humbling to see the exhibition taking shape after so many years of hard work and perseverance
The Barnsley fire engine fought alongside Doug Lightning and hundreds of his colleagues as they battled to save the burning city over two nights of intense German bombing.
The engine survived the war and became a permanent fixture of Sheffield Fire Brigade until it was retired from the service in the 1950s.
The Leyland vehicle has gone on permanent display at the National Emergency Services Museum as part of their new Sheffield Blitz exhibition which opens to the public today.
The attacks killed and wounded over 2,000 people in December 1940 and made nearly a tenth of the city’s population homeless.
The devastating attacks changed the face of the city forever and flattened much of the city centre.
Doug Lightning was joined at the exhibition launch by ‘Sheffield’s Date With Hitler’ author, Neil Anderson.
He started campaigning six years ago for there to be more in Sheffield to commemorate the attacks.
In November 2015, Neil Anderson – together with project manager Richard Godley and heritage interpreter Bill Bevan – successfully secured £81,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Thanks to National Lottery players, a permanent Sheffield Blitz exhibition is set to be the first lasting legacy of the project.
The project was backed by The Star as part of a bid to raise enough money for a permanent memorial trail through the city centre asround the landmarks of the Blitz atacks.
The exhibition will contain scores of rare and original Blitz-related objects and photos, Second World War emergency vehicles, oral history recordings from survivors and film footage, as well as the fire brigade’s original map of bomb sites across the city.
Neil Anderson said: “It is truly humbling to see the exhibition taking shape after so many years of hard work and perseverance.”
A Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail will form the centre-piece of the two-and-a-half year Heritage Lottery Funded project with up to 12 sites around the city centre ear-marked for the installation of high quality, permanent memorial plaques.
They will include names of victims of the bombings.
The first part of this is set to be unveiled in the coming months.
The Sheffield Blitz exhibition will be accessible during the normal opening hours of the National Emergency Services Museum. There is an admission charge.
The Sheffield Blitz 75th project has received donations from Peter Stringfellow, Horrible Histories’ creator Terry Deary, The Moor, Atkinsons and scores of individuals, including many Star readers who backed opur campaign.
It also has the backing of Sheffield City Council, The Star, Sheffield College, The National Emergency Services Museum, Forgemaster, Sheffield 50 Plus, Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust and South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum.