Memories of Sheffield Blitz in Hillsborough

Mrs E H Vessey has written in with her childhood memories of the Blitz in Hillsborough.

Saturday, 19th December 2015, 7:16 am
Hawksley Avenue, Hillsborough, during the Blitz 12th December 1940

She wrote: “I was 10 years old at the time of the Blitz, and at the time lived opposite Hillsborough Park, where due to water drains near our house, we were not able to have an Anderson Shelter, so on the night of the Blitz, we had to stay in the house when the raid started, although Dad went on his usual fire-watching duties.

“When the noise of explosions started, Mum told us not to worry, ‘it's only the ack-ack guns’, but said we should "play under the table just in case’.

“My younger brother and I were playing there with his model fort and lead soldiers when there was an almighty bang which blew out the windows and the carpets up off the floor, and hurled the furniture about the room.

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“We screamed with terror and Mum ushered us as quickly as possible to the foot of the stairs, where Dad found us when he came hurrying back telling us that a land mine had been dropped just up the road.

“He had tried to find room for us in our neighbour's shelter, but to no avail, so he ‘commandeered" the empty shelter of another neighbour who was staying away in the country, and, trying to protect us, sheltered us under his coat as we ran to the shelter.

“The enemy planes, having dropped their bomb load were machine-gunning the barrage balloons and firefighters in the light of the burning buildings and we could hear the rat-a-ta-tat as they did so.

”We stayed in the shelter until the all clear sounded and came out to a red sky reflecting the flames and the smell of smoke.

“When we got back into our house there was no water, electricity or gas and we had to wait until daylight to go into Hillsborough Park and collect water from the spring there.

“Luckily we had a coal-fired Yorkshire Range so we could boil a kettle on the fire and Mum could use the cooker.

“ Until the water pipes were repaired, water carts delivered water each morning and we had to stand in a queue in the cold December air, each of us carrying water in whatever utensil we could manage. The electricity and gas supplies were also restored as soon as there was no danger.

“The school opened without much delay too and we went there between 11am and 3pm with just a short break for a sandwich and a bottle of milk and this continued until the nightly disturbances were over and so life went on almost as usual.

“We were fortunate really to survive practically unscathed when so many people died and suffered far worse, but I will always remember the terrifying ordeal of the Sheffield Blitz, and I hope we never have to endure anything like it again.”