Sheffield’s walk back in time to dark days of Blitz

The Sheffield Blitz Trail opened this week, just ahead of the 79th anniversary of the terrible days when death and destruction rained down on the city centre and the East End.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 9:35 am
Updated Thursday, 12th December 2019, 10:32 am

The Star launched a campaign to back the project, initiated by local history writer Neil Anderson, and Retro readers helped to raise money towards the work to bring the story of Sheffield’s Blitz to new generations and pay tribute to the city’s remarkable resilience.

It also gave us a chance to tell some of your amazing stories along the way.

They included Ken Knight, who recalled how, as a teenager returning from a dance on the Manor, he was almost hit by an enemy plane’s machine gun fire on the night of December 12, 1940.

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Author Neil Anderson, launching the Sheffield Blitz Trail at Atkinson's, signing a copy of his new book for Terence Linfoot
Author Neil Anderson, launching the Sheffield Blitz Trail at Atkinson's, signing a copy of his new book for Terence Linfoot

Then, working as an apprentice at Brown Bayley’s in Attercliffe a week later, he escaped being buried under part of a building that collapsed following damage sustained in the second night of the Blitz on December 15.

Emma Pyecroft was an 18-year-old ARP ambulance driver, dealing with the dead and injured on board her ‘blood tub’.

Another 18-year-old, nurse Edna Sherwin, helped to get her patients at Sheffield Royal Hospital in West Street into a basement shelter, emerging in the morning of that Friday 13th to see the devastation.

The King's Head Hotel on Sheffield High Street during the Blitz

Harry Kenny’s family retold how, as an 11-year-old, he fought to find his sister under the rubble of their shattered Shirecliffe home. The bombing killed his father and brother Billy and left his mum and sister badly injured.

My most memorable meeting was with Doug Lightning, then the last surviving Blitz firefighter . His voice is one of those you can hear on a special phone app as you walk the 12 sites of the Blitz Heritage Trail.

We also ran extracts from the dramatic diary of a firewatcher at Atkinson’s on The Moor, which now serves as the gateway to the trail.