First permanent exhibition of the Sheffield Blitz to open at Emergency Services museum

The Lord Mayor of Sheffield and Frank Yates
The Lord Mayor of Sheffield and Frank Yates
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The first permanent exhibition commemorating the Sheffield Blitz will open at the National Emergency Services Museum tomorrow.

Sheffield suffered two nights of bombing attacks from the German Luftwaffe on December 12 and 15 1940.

The attacks killed and wounded over 2,000 people in December 1940 and made nearly a tenth of the city's population homeless

The exhibition contains rare and original Blitz-related objects and photos, Second World War emergency vehicles and oral history recordings from survivors.

Army veteran Frank Yates veteran helped to officially launch the exhibition today alongside Lord Mayor of Sheffield Denise Fox and author of ‘Sheffield's Date With Hitler', Neil Anderson.

The 95-year-old former sergeant managed to board a train bound for Manchester on December 12, 1940, missing the first night of bombings by just 15 minutes.

He said: "I was 19 and on leave from Chester and I was to catch the train from Sheffield to Manchester and while we were on the platform the red warning came on and then the purple warning.

"That was very unusual and the first time I had heard it. Every light went out in the station and then the train before the first bomb landed at 7.15pm.

"It was a week before I knew that Sheffield had been bombed because the Government kept it secret. They didn't want to let the Germans know they had hit Sheffield.

"I was with another chap looking up at the sky in the evening because it was a moonlit, starry night. I had no idea all the windows had been blown out in my mother's house."

Mr Anderson started campaigning six years ago for their to be more to commemorate the Sheffield 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).

Speaking at the launch, Mr Anderson said: "Many people in Sheffield got blasé about the warnings because the raids never arrived and the planes went to other parts of England.

"Unfortunately that all changed on the night of December 12, 1940. At 7pm the air raid warnings rang out, and a few minutes after that something that people had rarely heard - the sound of our own anti aircraft fire.

"What followed was nine solid hours of bombings over Sheffied. Wave after wave of bombs over Sheffield.

"I'd no idea, until I started researching for my first book, the sheer scale of it the bombings. Hardly an area of Sheffield wasn't hit - right across the city.

"When my book came out, I was lucky enough to interview veterans but I realised there was so little to mark the Blitz in Sheffield other than a few shrapnel marks in the City Hall."

Mr Anderson said the exhibition would be the first permanent legacy of the Sheffield Blitz 75th Project.

The Lord Mayor, Denise Fox, stressed the importance of this gathering the collection together to pass them on to the younger generation.

She said: "I wasn't around at the time obviously but I hear stories and, from what people tell me, the constant bombings must have been horrendous.

"We need to remember this so something like this never happens again. Exhbitions like this do remind us of why we need to keep the peace.

"The Sheffield blitz is not well documented, you have to go looking for it, so it's important to have people finding this out for us."