York Blitz: A reflection by Joseph Brannan

Posted on 11 November 2012 | Narrative

In April 1942, I was 10 years old and lived in Acomb.

Many an evening, my Mother used to call me into my parents’ bedroom at the front of the house, so that we could watch the flames in the sky and the distant sound of explosions as the German Luftwaffe air force bombed Hull 40 miles away. The view of this bombing was possible as we lived in the middle of Beckfield Lane and in those days the house looked over fields.

I received my usual call to “come and see Hull being bombed”. Mother had a sister who lived in Hull and used to worry about her safety.

My father shouted for both of us to get downstairs into the air raid shelter as “it’s not Hull being bombed, but York”. There were two stages to getting into the shelter; firstly, into the pantry, and from there, into the shelter. There were Ack Ack guns in the field just behind and they started to fire. They didn’t hit anything but managed to crack the ceilings and broke the windows. Once the All Clear sounded, we looked over York and could see what turned out to be York Station on fire, and then as normal, went to bed.

Poppleton Road school was hit and we had a few days off but then went to St Barnabas Leeming Road with a request to “bring a bucket as the roof leaks”. I saw a loco on its side in a badly damaged engine shed in Leeman Road. Also, in Coney Street, the glass of the window of the Saxone shoe shop had melted into the tarmac with the heat from the church on fire opposite, causing a mosaic effect.