V1 site at Radcliffe near Bury

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V1 site at Radcliffe near Bury

Another site with very few clues remaining to show what happened here on December 24th 1944. One of the 45 Flying Bombs aimed at Manchester landed on a boat builders yard by the side of the canal, and though there was the usual damage – windows blown out across a mile radius of the impact site – fortunately there were no casualties.

Using Peter J C Smith’s 1988 book to trace where these missiles fell in that attack, this one proved difficult. Smith says the missile struck a boat builders yard, ‘Prestolee Activities’, adding that the site is now a scrap yard. I couldn’t find a scrap yard, and wandered around before returning to where my gut told me the missile came down – a community of static caravans and pre-fabricated buildings.

There I spoke with a Mr George Hemmingway (in the photo above), a man in his 80’s who as a schoolboy recalled the Luftwaffe bombing raids on Salford. He told me the land was previously a scrap yard, but had been bought 12 years ago by members of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain such as himself. He showed me around, explaining that the people who lived there had owned travelling fairground rides and some had now retired and settled there. It was as well he was with me as I clicked away at the most likely spots; “Don’t worry,” he said indicating to the homes around “but you’re being watched!”

Smith notes that the V1 severely damaged the main building, on the site of which a smaller building has since been constructed. The only building to fit the bill is the one in the photo above – the bricks do not appear to be 100 year old Accrington Stock, especially when compared with another building on the site which dates from that period. By my reckoning the buzzbomb fell on the land beneath the digger in the photo below, though I could be wrong.

DSC_0101

For an overview of the Christmas V1 attack on Manchester, please see here

http://aircrashsites.co.uk/air-raids-bomb-sites/luftwaffe-v1-attack-on-manchester-christmas-eve-1944/

Details from Flying Bombs Over The Pennines (1988) by Peter J C Smith

EDIT; APRIL 2012
Comment below by charlotte435 who remembers this event deserves to be included here;

“I know exactly where it landed. I stood on the spot the morning after. I was 13 and some of the mud form the canal landed in our school field. I picked up propeganda letters from British POWs that were in the V1. Mr O’ niels yard was indeed damaged. Just a few feet from the canal edge. Lots of us kids were there. The night before, I heared the engine cut out as it dived down. I told my friend, a German POW about it. His name Otto Adler Luftwaffe guy about the v1 He grinned and said. I think you would have liked it to land on your school. TRUE.”

EDIT FEBRUARY 2016
Account from eyewitness Colin Craven.

I visited the site with my sister and grandpa Burton with whom we stayed in Albion St. off Outwood Rd. overnight. We went to check out our house for damage, it was located on Lord St. at the top of Ulundi St.
The bomb had landed on a Duck Pond on the same side as the Radcliffe Secondary Modern School. I was 8 years old and remember the house of my grandpa several miles away shook with the shock. I estimate that the crater was 80 to 100ft across and about 30ft. deep. My uncle who was a special constable and worked at Clifton Chloride (later Exide Battery) in Clifton near Salford docks, told us that the bomb had probably been targeted to hit the Chloride plant which I was to find out later was possibly engaged in production of explosives.
Interesting that at our house(not my grandpa’s) approx. 100-125 yards from the site had zero damage, except a crack, between 2 air gun pellet holes in a kitchen window on the opposite side to the blast, had developed. Yet large tempered glass windows on stores on Blackburn St. about one half to three quarters of a mile away, were shattered inwards. Woolworths store being one of them.

42 comments on “V1 site at Radcliffe near Bury
  1. pasujoba says:

    Very interesting Ian , is this by the river in Salford then ? cos if it is its gonna be close to the Salford bomber crash site (a Lanc , I think)
    A little scary being watched though ,especially in that neck of the woods .

  2. Ian D B says:

    No this is at Radcliffe.

    He was a friendly chap, though!

  3. C J Paul (chris) says:

    great work ian.
    it’s always exciting when you get a old person to give the info i could sit and listen to them all day.so well done mate another job brilliantly done.
    and you should alway go with the gut….

  4. Tech Owl says:

    I wondered if you had a guide of some sort – good to be able to talk to people with memories

  5. SolarScot. says:

    i often drive by a site where two Americans were killed when their fighter aircraft crashed head first into a field near here a few years ago,i know where it happened but there is no sign left now,they must have made sure they took away everything

  6. gastephen says:

    Very interesting story, Ian.

    ~ Graham ~
    Drop by my photostream!

  7. mick cooke says:

    nice one ian great story, wonder how many people know about this who live near there

  8. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    No chance of a cheeseburger or hot dog from the vendor in the photo then.
    Good bit of luck in finding a chap to tell you about the place and to have also been around when the Luftwaffe were doing there bit around Salford, I could listen to their anecdotes for ages!

  9. charlotte435 says:

    I know exactly where it landed. I stood on the spot the morning after. I was 13 and some of the mud form the canal landed in our school field. I picked up propeganda letters from British POWs that were in the V1. Mr O’ niels yard was indeed damaged. Just a few feet from the canal edge. Lots of us kids were there. The night before, I heared the engine cut out as it dived down. I told my friend, a German POW about it. His name Otto Adler Luftwaffe guy about the v1 He grinned and said. I think you would have liked it to land on your school. TRUE.

    • Michael Brown. says:

      I also remember this. I lived at 122 Sion Street Radcliffe, gust under neath “the boat works”, and I was three and a half years old, our parents took us downstairs, then under the stairs until we heard the all clear. It is one of the first things in my life I have ever remembered.

  10. charlotte435 says:

    I wrote the above comment. I am on nookinwales1:yahoo.co.uk

  11. Ian D B says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/77020014@N02] charlotte435
    Thank you for your comments on my photos, it is always good to hear first hand accounts of these incidents. Your pal who was a German POW – was he at Warth camp by any chance? I went to Derby High as a kid, just round the corner from there. Otto’s comment made me smile! I think it’s great that you remember his name and are able to add to this history. I am going to copy your comment and add it to the main text above. Anyway, it looks like I found the right spot then? There are not many clues. I hope it is the right spot, because if it isn’t I shall have to go back and re-photograph it!

    Re; The POW letters, I guess it looked something like this?

    Untitled

    The letters were packed into the missiles and were genuine. The idea of the letters was, as you probably know, that someone would pick it up – as you did – and it would make its way to the relative, whereupon they would write to their relative in a POW camp, and the Germans would know then where the letter was found and thus where their missile fell… It was a long shot really, depended on the letter getting to the relative and then the relative obligingly telling the German censor how they came about it!

  12. Mustang Koji says:

    Ian, a great study and effort once again. And the facts behind this POW letters is fascinating – a keyhole into past on how intel was transmitted in one form or another. Good stuff! And when you see the snaps you took, it would be difficult to say there once was a war – just like Japan looks today.

  13. PSMack says:

    Ian; my grandma told me about the doodlebug (V1) which hit Radcliffe, people heard it coming, they could hear the engine and when the engine stopped, watch out. The thing landed in the boatyard which was off the canal near the little bridge at the bottom of Ainsworth Road where it crosses Bolton Rd. Mills and Seddon used to park coaches ("shara bangs") in a big yard there and people used to go on those coaches to Blackpool or to the football at Burnden Park or Turf Moor. Speaking of bombs my dad inherited the scrap yard in Whitaker St which was not far from the canal, near the old swimming baths and one day he was breaking up cast iron with a big hammer and he hit something that rang out (steel not cast iron) and then ……well they had to call out the bomb disposal people to take it away.

  14. Ian D B says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/87430209@N03] PSMack
    Very good to hear from you, thanks for adding your grandma’s memories to this history, it all adds up to a better record of what happened and how the people living through it coped. Great story re; your Dad finding (and surviving finding!) a bomb.
    Ian

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/p47koji]
    I am two months late Koji, but thank you too!

  15. cgullz says:

    very cool that you met the old guy with all the right connections!

    Thankyou for sharing

    with the War Stories Group

  16. Alf Goater says:

    P.S Macks comment, You are a little off course with the Bridge it was the next canal bridge the one close to the Radcliffe Secondry modern school, close to Scotson fold farm, not the bridge near Mills and Seddon coaches, I lived in Higher Dean st. My Mother and I was under the house staircase when it dropped we had heard the sirens, and that is where we used to hide. I was 5 years old at the time we was that close all our windows shattered, later as a kid going to School that way, we used to peer into the yard. what amazed me was the brick toilet still standing, and the words ( The house and county court, written on the door. Alf Goater.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks for adding to this Alf.

      Ian

      • Just to add my mother always took me under the stairs like Michael my friend, Dean st was pretty open to the boat yard hence all our windows got blown out. I was always told the boat yard built motor torpedo boats, made me think about someone giving a bit of spy work out.

        • Marina Goater says:

          Just been sharing your comments with Alfred, your dads name sake. He’s 11 now and fascinated by the stories. Love to you in Aus

          • Alf Goater says:

            Only just seen this today Marina, 1/2/16
            forgive me I had forgot your name, hope all is well at your end we are fine, take care xx Alf & Edie

          • Alfred George Goater says:

            Only just found this Thursday 6 Oct /16 at 6.30.thanks for making contact, never got to know the kids really its been a long time, and a lot has happened, The Alfred George goes on , I can remember the German blitz after all these years , loves yas all from Aus. Alf.

  17. Tony Leydon says:

    Alf Goater is quite correct, the boatyard was on the Allen’s Green side of the canal. Mos t of the windows in Radcliffe Secondary Modern School were blown in causing the school to be closed for 2 weeks, much to the disgust of we pupils at St. Mary’s school, which was sheltered from the blast by the Secondary Modern School, and conequently had to report to school on 2January. I remember the incident very well because it landed very late on Chritmas Eve 1944, my 8th birthday. Psmack’s grandma’s description of the noise tallys with mine, the throb of the ram jet engine, sudden stop, silence then tremendous explosion. One thing that has always puzzled me was the fact that boatyard’s main stock in trade appeared to be ships lifeboats: why? On the banks of a canal in landlocked Radciffe?

    Tony Leydon

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks for your comment Tony. That will have been early on your birthday, just before 6am it fell.

      I understand Prestolee Activities made and repaired wooden lifeboats and were based there because of the canal, though it still seems an odd choice of location to me too. Named after Prestolee locks? I imagine the boats were taken by the canal to Manchester but then according to Smith (1988) at the outbreak of war the western part of the Bury branch was closed and drained where the canal and river are so close that a bomb landing there would have presented a major flood risk.

      Ian

      • Alfred George Goater says:

        Hi Tony, We could have shared the old Air raid shelter at one time, all the best from Aussie.

        • Tony Leydon says:

          Dave, Strebor was quite a long way from the bomb site, the Secondary Modern and St. Mary’s school were in between. The nearest factory, in my memory, was Walker Allen dye works on the other side of the canal towards Black Lane.

          Regards

          Tony

      • Jean Hurst was Hobson says:

        My Dad worked with Alex O’Neill at the boat Yard his father was Teddy O’Neill from Prestolee School I think that this was an off shoot of the “night school” he ran from there. I believe that the business ceased trading and I know that Alex went to train as a teacher My Dad and Teddy and Alex remained friends until Dad died I used to hear about the bomb story but used to think”boats in Radcliffe” so thanks for this info that 31 years since Dads death has made this clear

  18. Alfred George Goater says:

    Just to add to my earlier comment my Hobby is Metal detecting I have done a big area round the boat shed in question all the fields along the Canal side on the way to Little Lever, and as far away as Ainsworth, I was born within site of the Boat shed in Higher Dean St, on my detecting I picked up a lot of Shrapnel which kept reminding me of the time of the big bang when underneath the stairs of the home with my mother. and the visit a couple of days after to see what all the fuss was about, and to think of my own father at the time being a Dunkirk veteran and a Japanese POW. I was six years old when I first saw him.

    • Ian D B says:

      Fascinating to read of finding shrapnel Alfred, and of not seeing your father till you were 6 years old.

      This is a fragment of a V1 bomb I found from the same raid, this one coming down on Howden Moor in Derbyshire.

      Untitled

  19. Dave says:

    The old scrapyard at the end of school street, Radcliffe with the canal bridge at the end.
    Often got for told about the V1 and how it missed the local factory…strebor ???
    Good to hear the local stories from local people

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks Dave. I think this is the right spot?

    • Alex says:

      It would be interesting to find out just what the boats made there were, you said Torpedo boats, I heard ships life boats. BTW the Strebor wasn’t there then, but Allen’s Green Colliery was! Regards Alex. PS Hi Alf!!!

  20. Tony Leydon says:

    Dave, Strebor was quie a long way from the bomb site, the Secondary Modern and St. Mary’s school were in between. The nearest factory, in my memory, was Walker Allen dye works on the other side of the canal towards Black Lane.

    Regards

    Tony

    • Dave says:

      Hi thanks for the reply, only just seen it. Yeah I was thinking Strebor was to recent but it’s what we got to told. Could have been for any of the factories, collieries, streets as they weren’t concerned then about who or what they hit….

  21. Tony Leydon says:

    Hi Alfred, Yes, you never know! We may very well have been shelter companions. Nice to know there are still some of us alive. Amazing where old Radcliffians get to, all the best to all in Oz.

    Tony

  22. Daz Cahill says:

    We was told by a teacher that when it exploded it twisted all the metal window frames in the school. (Radcliffe sec)

  23. Colin Craven says:

    I visited the site with my sister and grandpa Burton with whom we stayed in Albion St. off Outwood Rd. overnight. We went to check out our house for damage, it was located on Lord St. at the top of Ulundi St.
    The bomb had landed on a Duck Pond on the same side as the Radcliffe Secondary Modern School. I was 8 years old and remember the house of my grandpa several miles away shook with the shock. I estimate that the crater was 80 to 100ft across and about 30ft. deep. My uncle who was a special constable and worked at Clifton Chloride (later Exide Battery) in Clifton near Salford docks, told us that the bomb had probably been targeted to hit the Chloride plant which I was to find out later was possibly engaged in production of explosives.
    Interesting that at our house(not my grandpa’s) approx. 100-125 yards from the site had zero damage, except a crack, between 2 air gun pellet holes in a kitchen window on the opposite side to the blast, had developed. Yet large tempered glass windows on stores on Blackburn St. about one half to three quarters of a mile away, were shattered inwards. Woolworths store being one of them.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Colin, that’s a terrific recollection (and further verification that I got the right spot). You lived just around the corner from it, so lucky to escape uninjured and your home undamaged!

      Very interesting to read of the details about the crater, have not seen that recorded elsewhere. Not sure about the V1 being targeted on anything Colin, they had no guidance system – the target was Manchester.

      Your comments about the blast damage add to those I have read elsewhere. A woman in Stockport survived when a V1 in this attack landed in the garden of a house with her on the ground floor, asleep in bed with just the wall of the house between her and the bomb. And I think it is recorded on the page about bombs in Bury where a land mine in Stubbins ripped the heads of a bunch of daffodils on a window cill but left the vase intact.

      Thanks again Colin, this is a very welcome account and adds loads to the history. I will add it to the main text.

      Ian

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