‘Honour all our war dead’

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A MAN who lost five relatives in a World War Two air raid says a proposed Sheffield memorial should include victims of all bombings in the city, rather than just the 1940 Blitz.

John Griffin, of Saxonlea Avenue, Manor, says other bombing raids in Sheffield are often “overlooked” because of the two-day attack.

More than 2,000 people were killed in Luftwaffe bombings on Sheffield, with the Blitz of December 1940 seeing the most devastating death toll.

But Mr Griffin’s aunt Ellen Redfern, aged 43, her 42-year-old husband William and their children Kathleen, 20, Joyce, 15, and Anthony, two, all died when a parachute mine hit their house on Southey Hill in March 1941.

Mr Griffin, now 64 and estates manager at Sheffield Springs Academy is researching his family history His father Wilfred told him the story of the bombing before he died four years ago, aged 86.

He said Ellen, William and their eldest child Hilda, 21, had gone for an evening out at the Magnet pub before the tragedy, while Kathleen stayed at home to look after Joyce and Anthony.

“During the evening, the sirens went and William and Ellen returned home. Hilda decided to stay with her friends at the Magnet,” he said.

The parents joined their three other children in the air raid shelter in the garden.

“The raid started and an eyewitness who was a friend of the family saw a parachute mine descending into the area. After the raid it was apparent a mine had fallen in very close proximity.”

Mr Griffin said the mine killed around 12 people.

“My father said very little about it until I was doing the family tree,” he said.

“The story goes they were carrying out an air raid in Belfast on the same night, and had to fly over Sheffield.

“One of the aircraft in this raid was hit by a plane in Wincobank, and jettisoned its load of parachute mines.”

Mr Griffin said he accepted the December 1940 Blitz was a “piece of Sheffield history,” but added there are many other air raids which “never seem to get a mention.”

“I think everyone that died ought to be commemorated - that’s my feeling,” he said.

Labour Coun Pat Midgley, who represents Manor Castle, put forward a motion at Sheffield Council that the memorial at Devonshire Green should be replaced with one “more visible and prominent.”

Coun Midgley told The Star any memorial would absolutely be dedicated to all Sheffielders who perished in World War Two air raids.

“One of the things that’s been discussed is the possibility of having something in a more central position - certainly something that focuses on the future as well as the past,” she said.

“We’re almost light years from bringing it about, though. Unlike other cities there is this lack of knowledge within the city about what has happened.”

n Wave after wave of Luftwaffe attacks: Retro, P4 inside The Star tonight.