Sheffield wartime baby Leonard Friskney remembers Crookes boyhood

A special day has brought memories of Sheffield flooding back for a Scarborough man who grew up in the city.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 10:47 am
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 12:00 pm

Leonard Friskney said that yesterday was his and twin brother Norman’s 79th birthday, which fell on a Friday like their birthdate. They were born at the old City General Hospital.

He wrote: “While battles were raging all over Europe in the Second World War and bombs falling on Sheffield, our dear mum had her own battle to contend with the birth. Our parents Len and Doris lived at 97 Bole Hill Lane, Crookes (are those houses still there?).

Our neighbours were always friendly and helped each other during those dark days. Dad was the manager at the Maypole shop at Attercliffe and mum worked in the canteen at one of the steelworks.

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Mum Doris Friskney, Norman Friskney (centre) and twin brothers Leonard Friskney (right), 3 or 4 years old

Many times, when babies, when there was a raid, mum and dad took us to the Anderson shelter in the house. It was a steel structure and caged all round and had a little door. The steel top was used as a table and that is where the family slept.

Incendiaries were dropped over Sheffield as a guide when bombers went to Manchester and menfolk dashed out to smother them with sand.

Dad, unfortunately, missed the first six years of our young lives as he got called up for military service in August 1941 and was with the Royal Artillery going to North Africa with the 8th Army and then to Italy.

He was demobbed on May 28, 1946. Before dad saw us again, we were walking, talking and questioning why was this strange man in bed with mummy?

Mum was on her own when dad was called up but neighbours rallied round to help and she would regularly travel to Scarborough with us two where relatives lived, and eventually, we moved there.

After the war, our play area was the Bole Hills and the ‘ship rock’ was our favourite. This was a large rock jutting out of the ground that resembled the bows of a ship.

We remember getting snowed in during the bad winter of 46/47 and had to clear snow so the coal wagon could deliver. Our school was Westwood Road Primary School. Is that still there?

From the back of the houses was a passage leading up to the main road. On the corner was a bombed-out pub, the Punch Bowl? We were told it got a direct hit and many people died sheltering in the cellars.”