Wednesday, November 22, 2017

ISSUE NUMBER 200 November 2017

Carl Writes
By late November 1940 the shopping and civic centre of Birmingham was scarred deeply by the heavy German bombing on the city which had begun a few months before in August. So too were most of the central working-class neighbourhoods. Yet even in supposedly safer more suburban areas there had been destruction and deaths.
 There was then a brief lull in the Luftwaffe's attacks, which quickly resumed on the evening of 3 December when 50 bombers pounded the city. Tragically, thirty-six people were killed and 60 were injured severely. Major fires erupted in Ashted Row, Moor Street and Bradford Street, where the premises of Fisher and Ludlow's were hit. As the raiders left Birmingham they blasted the Kings Norton Factory Centre, but the fires there 'did not prove to be serious.  Wreckage was widespread and on one battered house were chalked the defiant words 'Blown Out But Not Thrown Out', according to the Birmingham Mail of 4 December 1940.  The next night the raiders returned. Explosives hit St Andrew's, the ground of Birmingham City Football Club, and wrecked one of the stands; and they destroyed a pub in which 20 people had been sheltering.
 The emergency services saved all of them, apart from the licensee who had been leading his customers in community singing as the bomb fell. A Birmingham Mail reporter wrote that the morning after the destruction “his young son was to be seen wandering pathetically among the ruins and holding beneath his coat his dog, which had been rescued from what remained of the structure”.
 Then on the evening of 11 December five parachute mines and several high explosive bombs were dropped on Handsworth and delayed action bombs exploded in the Frederick Road vicinity of Edgbaston. A parachute mine also fell on Morgan’s, the pork butcher’s and sausage factory next to Digbeth Police Station, whilst the Kings Road Public Works Depot in Kings Road, Tyseley was hit by two high explosive bombs. This site was serving as an Air Raids Precautions ambulance and resource station.
 That dreadful night is vividly remembered by Kitty Grundy, who has written a moving account of how the raid affected her family and neighbours in Swanshurt Lane. In particular it is a touching tribute to Suzanne Marburg, a five-year old Czech refugee who was killed.
 As ever there is more to stir memories, happy and sorrowful, from an article celebrating Birmingham’s Wholesale Markets to the Tale of Two Bills, and from an account of a right-royal ‘do’ in Lozells to one of a Somali family which served the British Empire  

Lest we forget




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