World War Two air raid sirens will ring out across the city of Sheffield at 7.15pm tonight to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Blitz.
Their arrival will be pre-empted when two original 1940s searchlights are beamed into the sky from The Moor - an area of the city centre that was virtually flattened in the attacks.
The air raid sirens will signal the start of dramatic ‘ring of searchlights’ that will be shone into the skies of Sheffield from key areas around The Moor/Sheffield city centre.
Members of the public are being encouraged to ‘black out’ at 7.15pm - the exact time 75 years ago the bombs started dropping in Sheffield city centre - for two minutes as a mark of respect for the hundreds that were killed and wounded in the Sheffield Blitz.
Doug Lightning and Joyce Spurr were too busy fighting the raging fires and co-ordinating the relief effort to realise they were a key part of an event that changed the face of Sheffield in December 1940.
The two nonagenarians will be leading the commemoration events at a special Sheffield Blitz event inside The Moor Market on Saturday night.
Doug Lightning, 97, is thought to be the last surviving fireman that worked on those two fateful nights - Joyce Spurr, 94, helped co-ordinate the relief effort in the aftermath of the attacks that killed and wounded 2,000 people and made nearly a tenth of the city homeless.
The event will hail the start of a two-and-a-half year Heritage Lottery Fund supported project to commemorate, research and interpret the Sheffield Blitz.
It will include a screening of Shirley Temple’s ‘The Blue Bird’ - the film that was playing in the nearby Central Picture House as the area was evacuated - Keith Peter’s Big Band, Sheffield Blitz display, 4D Sheffield Blitz experience, re-enactors and more.
Author Neil Anderson who has led the drive for the commemoration, said: “The Sheffield Blitz changed the face of the city forever and had a catastrophic effect on an entire generation. We are honoured that both
Doug Lightning and Joyce Spurr are willing to relive their experience, mark the anniversary and help us launch our project.”
Sheffield Cathedral are also hosting the free ‘A Blitz Christmas’ event from 11am-3pm the same day.
Tuesday will see the 75th anniversary of the second and last night of the attacks - will also see Alan Powell’s ‘Blitzed’ play performed at Sheffield Cathedral. All proceeds will be donated to the Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trust.
Thanks to National Lottery players a Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail will also be created in the coming months to commemorate the 75th anniversary of a defining moment in the city’s history with up to 16 sites around the city centre ear-marked for the installation of high quality, permanent memorial plaques.
The two-and-a-half-year project will show what living through the Blitz was like and how this event shaped the city and its people.