WWII Bomb Halifax, West Yorkshire. Then & Now

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Then & Now. Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Same scene now.

Friday, 22 November 1940. Just over a week after the devastating Luftwaffe attack on Coventry which left thousands dead or injured and homeless, a lone bomber dropped a 100kg bomb on houses in Hanson Lane in Pellon, Halifax, killing 11 civilians and injuring a further 10 people. The bomb hit the pavement in front of number 77.

The bomb fell at just before 9pm. The randomness of the deaths is still shocking even after 70 years; 3 of the dead were customers having a pint in a pub, while 16 year old Eric Pearson was killed as he waited for a bus. Today there is a ‘memorial garden’ at the site, but there is nothing stating what happened there or to explain what the garden is a memorial to.

There’s very little on the internet relating to the bombing either. One or two sites make some wild claims, one mentions the possibility that the bomb was dropped by an RAF aircraft, but adds no more detail. I doubt it. The bomber flew over Halifax on a winter’s night, so no-one will have seen it. There’s no mention in witness acounts of an air raid warning, so it is possible that people after the event assumed that it must therefore have been a British bomber? Possibly. But opportunist attacks by the Luftwaffe, either singly or in pairs, often going unnoticed flying fast and low in Junkers Ju88s, were not uncommon.

I was put on to this bomb site by Zed, a friend at work. She had mentioned it about a year ago, then last week brought in a local newspaper cutting relating to the anniversary of the incident and from which the above image is taken (Halifax Courier, December 11 2010). While photographing the bomb site, I asked a passer-by if she knew anything of it. She said she didn’t, but that her husband might… So I went to their home – they live in one of the flats built over the site – and a Mr Jenner was able show me a street map of Pellon as it looked then, and to kindly provide me with a copy of the old photo showing the other side of Hanson Lane.

Below; Another shot of the bomb site taken the morning after, showing damage done to houses on the North side of Hanson Lane, courtesy of Mr Jenner. Original source unknown.

Below; The scene today, a wider angle view. Memorial garden railings on the right, and on the left behind the blue railings are the flats which were built over the destroyed houses and the road leading off to the left in the photo above, Crossley Terrace.

Since writing this, I have been advised by another friend at work, Joanne, that her dad was brought up in Crossley Terrace and remembers the event. He was about 9 or 10 at the time. The pub mentioned above, in which 3 people were killed, was the West Hill public house. Joanne’s grandparents and her Auntie Ivy were in the pub at the time. Jo says, “My auntie had a mustard coloured coat on and it got covered in blood. Because she could not afford a new coat she had to dye it red!”

Today I received this very welcome e-mail from Mrs June Raine née Uttley and, with her kind permission, am copying it in full to this record because it provides so much more information and colour to the known events.

“I stumbled across your article about this incident just yesterday, after deciding that I would like to research the events of that fateful evening, long ago. At the time this bomb was dropped I was living with my mother’s Uncle, Clem Garforth, who was the proprietor of the West Hill Pub. I was 10 years old, and lived in Darlington, Co.Durham. My mother, in her wisdom, thought I should be evacuated to a safer town!! I went to bed that night just before 9pm and suddenly heard a screeching sound from above. Instinctively, I knew it was a bomb and I dived under the bedclothes, which saved me from injury. when I managed to come out from underneath the bedclothes, and try to remove some of the debris which had fallen on top of me, I heard someone calling my name, and my cousin’s fiance, Arthur Horner, found me and carried me downstairs, narrowly escaping falling through a blown out window into the yard below. My cousin, Joan Garforth, then carried me for about half a mile to Arthurs’ parents’ house, where we stayed the night. I am now 82 years old, and have never forgotten that frightening night. The barman helping my uncle serve drinks behind the bar that night did not usually work on Fridays, but, as a favour to Joan, whose birthday it was that day, stood in for her. He, tragically, died that night. Also, I remember a lovely old couple who owned a sweet shop opposite – they were also killed. The morning after, I went to survey the damage, and could not believe that I had survived.”


See also V1 bomb on Sowerby, Christmas 1944


PEOPLE KILLED – details from Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale Companion.
Ivy Burrows aged 41
Charles Cockroft aged 63
Francis Richard Keating aged 65
William Marston aged 48
Harry Moore aged 48
Eric Sapho Pearson aged 16
Nora Varney aged 38
James Ward aged 65
Arthur Watson aged 63
Lucy Ann Wild aged 68

See also “Seeing It Through – Halifax and Calderdale During World War II” by Peter Thomas, 2005

73 comments on “WWII Bomb Halifax, West Yorkshire. Then & Now
    • Anne says:

      My grandfather Eric Sydney Wood was an air raid warden and went to help in the aftermath of the bomb, My mother said he was very shocked and shaken by the carnage

      • Darren Andrew Hirst says:

        My grandma called my grandad to come home and he was walking down the road when the bomb dropped and blew him off his feet.
        My grandma saved his life.

  1. gastephen says:

    Nice comparisons. It is really hard to imagine what life must have been like back then.

  2. Mark McKie says:

    Nice one mate.

  3. Tech Owl says:

    Another amazing series Ian – getting the real detective now!
    Really interesting too

  4. SolarScot. says:

    what i feel is a strange pain Ian,i have a friend on flickr who lives in a German town where thousands died from Allied bombs,so many people suffered ,thank you for sharing this Ian

    • glenn says:

      It’s said, but Germany put Hitler into power fully knowing what he was and he started the War. He started the bombing of civilians and therefore got what he gave.

  5. Ian D B says:

    Thanks all. Aye, there were no winners. German cities were wiped out towards the end of the war, as were Japanese. Essential reading; Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

  6. andyholmfirth says:

    Priceless images these.

  7. **Hazel** says:

    That is an amazing story Ian!! Very sad time, Leicester had bombs dropped just to empty them on the way home from bombing Coventry. Several people were killed here too.
    These places should be remembered, people lived there and shouldn’t be forgotten. Amazing photos Ian, especially having the before and afters !!!!

  8. The Chairman 8 says:

    Interesting stuff! And nice comparative photos! I’m glad you didn’t decide to take it looking in the opposite direction (I have seen such done)! (-:

    Calderdale Photographers.

  9. smallblu says:

    great photos and info.

  10. Lo Scorpione says:

    Nice piece of investigation journalism, Ian 😉

  11. C J Paul (chris) says:

    amazing job ian great work.

  12. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    Watched a prog on BBC iPlayer at work last night, about the bombing of Sheffield and the randomness of the attack, steel works were classed as secondary targets while hospitals and churches were marked as primary targets (according to captured Luftwaffe maps and reports for the time).
    What was the reason for the bombing of Halifax?

    • I remember that night of the “Halifax Bomb”I was about 11 years old at the time, and I am now 81. I have lived in Australia since 1959 but I was born in Holmfield, Halifax. That night we heard no siren, as far as I can remember,but my Mother & my sister heard this mighty explosion and felt the shock under our feet. I remember my Mother saying “Oh my God we’ve had a bomb” My Aunty Mary lived in Colbeck Street, off Hanson lane,and next morning we heard that most of her windows had been shattered with the explosion. We were given to understand that a German bomber plane had been on its way back from a raid in Manchester, with a bomb stuck in the bomb shaft, and they had shaken it off over Halifax,because they would not have been able to land back in Holland without blowing up their aircraft.I was never told about the consequences of that bombing,but have never forgotten it. I have also never forgotten the fear we all had every time those sirens went off (almost every night)& spending hours down in our air-raid shelter which was in our cellar.

      • Ian D B says:

        Hi Brenda, great to hear from you and to read your memories of the Halifax bomb. Interesting that you recall no air raid siren, others have said the same.

        I don’t think we can really appreciate what it must be like to live in fear of being bombed, so it’s always good to have people who were there at the time add their memories.

        I work in Halifax and know Holmfield well. Good chippy up on Shay Lane.


      • Philip Brown aged 84 says:

        I lived at Ovenden Avenue, Lee Mount. Dad was Civil Defense Rescue
        and was just going on duty to Haughshaw Road base and he ran across
        the Shroggs tip and was there when the wagons turned up.The front door was blown open.
        I think that is the rescue man with the cigarette in his mouth

        • Ian D B says:

          Hi Philip, it’s good to hear from you. Thank you for adding your memory of the bomb. Here is a close up of the man with the cigarette if it helps.


          • Rodney Brook says:

            I’m quite sure that this picture is of my grandfather,of John brook who was on the rescue team that was at the scene of the Hanson lane bombing in Halifax town centre they job was to clean up and digging people and bodys out of the aftermath.

          • Ian D B says:

            Thanks Rodney. What a job he had to do. As my mother used to say, We don’t know we’re born.

  13. Ian D B says:

    Many thanks everyone.

    I like to add these photos, not just because it’s good to think about what people went through not that long ago – and indeed are still going through around the world – but just because it’s interesting to stand at a familiar spot and to ask, what happened here?

    Just down from this place is where Halifax Gibbet stood. See here on wikipedia.


    I don’t think the bomber was necessarily aiming for Halifax, I imagine it was an opportunist attack, perhaps the bomb aimer spotted a light below, a door left open or something, lighting up the blackout? That sort of thing happened. Halifax was bombed a few times, though this was the worst. Other occasions the Luftwaffe had mistaken Halifax for Leeds.

    • Brenda Hodgson (nee Shearing) says:

      I was given to understand that a bomb was stuck in the bomb shaft and that they had to shake it off somewhere in order to be able to land safely back in Germany, or German occupied Holland. Many German planes flew over Ringby Hill, and Holmfield was in he valley of that hill. Almost every night the sirens went off because of German bombers flying over the Pennines on their way to bomb such places as Manchester. I was 5 when the war started and about 11 when it ended. I have lived in Australia since 1959.

      • Colin Isles says:

        I was born in 1935 and raised at 9 Grove Street Ovenden. As a young lad of 5 years old I experienced the same trepidation as described by Brenda Hodgson, when the warning siren sounded my mother would get my brother and I out of bed and down into the cold damp cellar where we sat mortified until the all clear sounded. I remember my parents talking about the Hanson Lane bomb disaster and the photos in the Courier which added to my fear of going up to bed every night. This went on for many months but I believe it eventually became less frequent. At age 15 I became an apprentice at Denham Lathe Company on Shay Lane and would often see the Shearing sisters going about their business. In 1952 my parents decided to emigrate to Canada where I have enjoyed a very successful life here in Ontario ever since. Some of the younger set of my family sit in disbelief when I relate my experiences back in 1940 in Ovenden Halifax.

        • Roz Allen says:

          I live in Ovenden today its fascinating to imagine such times. Do you know where the siren was based?

          • Colin Isles says:

            It sounded to be coming from somewhere near the top of Nursery Lane, being just five years old at that time and full of anxiety I cannot be sure it was located there. The siren sure was loud and clear from my location at 9 Grove St Ovenden.

    • Carole Ware says:

      Halifax only had one bomb dropped on it. As I understood it ( just a couple of years later) it was not a planned attack, but a German pilot who needed to get rid of a bomb that was stuck in the bomb doors. A description at the time and not a very nice one listening with a child’s ears is… that the butchers boy caught in the bast had a head like a coconut after the blast. We lived in Back Crossley Terrace at the time and the house had a crack in one corner of the room caused by the bomb. There was difficulty after the war of getting rehoused, so my parents had little choice in where they lived.

  14. mick cooke says:

    brilliant ian how you compare the photos very interesting

  15. EverydayTuesday says:

    Fantastic series! Very interesting, indeed.

  16. billpan45 says:

    I was very moved by your photo & story. WWII brought huge numbers of deaths, still
    hard to comprehend today. What bothers me most is the cavalier attitudes of leaders.

  17. Billy Currie says:

    I love these old pictures, so atmospheric


    Thanks for sharing, Best Wishes for christmas and the new year

  19. zedx90120 says:

    This info is a great source for the younger generations to get a feel how life was like 70yrs ago and how strong-willed the folk were in times of devastation. Great job Ian. Just hope its a learner for our generation.
    Zed F.

  20. kokoro1 says:

    Thanks for sharing – nice work.

  21. Ian D B says:

    Thanks again everyone, and thanks for the heads-up, Zed!

  22. Mustang Koji says:

    This is a superlative effort, sir. Thank you for sharing the results of your research with us.

  23. CORDAN says:

    Really well done Ian.

  24. rackman says:

    My mother was in her bath when the bomb struck and heard it as most people in Halifax did. The theory was that the bomber was returning from Sheffield and had a stuck bomb that he managed to get loose and then found a target in Halifax on his way home.You’ll notice it says one bomber and one bomb whereas they were usually in packs.
    I don’t believe the targeting of Hospitals story. My Uncle worked at BSA in Birmingham which was the only place in Britain that had the milling machines for making certain types of guns. The Germans bombed that factory relentlessly and all the houses near it. The people on the ground lit drum barrels of oil soaked rags, to produce a heavy black smog to try and fool the bombers. The Germans knew what they were doing and that was to stop war production.
    Also I really object to the comment about the Allies gave it back ten fold. Hitler was a monster who caused 20 million deaths and if he had beaten Britain we would all been sent to Germany as slave labourers or executed. Would those German people in Cologne or other fire bombed cities, have helped us as we were led past, or spat upon us as they did to the inmates at Dachau?

  25. Ian D B says:

    Thank you for your comment Rackman. Very interesting account of your Uncle’s experience at BSA.

    Re; this air raid, we really don’t know the exact details. It is very unlikely that the bomber was returning from a raid on Sheffield though – why would the bomber be flying North if it was returning home! But of course people living through the war did not know what we know after 70 years of pouring over the archives and cross referencing details, and so these stories spring up, like the one about it being an RAF bomber. All we can do is piece together what we know for certain.

    I know it says one bomber, I wrote it. It also says that it wasn’t unusual for single bombers to look for opportunities to attack, especially if the crew could not find their intended target, which was the norm rather than the exception; RAF crews struggled to positively identify where they were over the UK, let alone Luftwaffe crews, and we know that in 1941, only 10% of RAF bombs fell within 5 miles of the target.

    I agree with you re; the hospitals but some of the things we don’t like to think about did happen, German bomber crews machine gunning fire crews on the ground for instance. And the chances are, the Allies did the same.

    Which leads to the comment about Total War and the Allies dishing it back ten fold, made by my friend Paul. His comment is entirely valid, it is a historical fact, not some bit of history we should airbrush out because it offends our 21st Century values. The Allies dished it back – they had to in order to avoid what you say would have happened. The Allied victory was never certain until the Spring of 1945. And I need to politely point out that he is entitled to make that comment because I allow it.

    With respect I’m not sure of the point you are making either – that if the Allies had been nicer to the Germans and not firebombed their cities, then they might not have spat at them as they did to other people being marched to concentration camps? That’s not a deal I could see Churchill signing up to! Besides, the German people didn’t help the Jews or the Bolsheviks or people who were homosexual or disabled etc so there’s no reason to imagine they would have helped anyone else, regardless of whether they wanted to or not. Though as a footnote, it is the case that Allied bomber crews parachuting down over bombed cities stood a very good chance of being attacked on the ground, and it is easy to understand why.

    As Paul says, it was Total War, there was not the luxury of choosing half measures. But it was Hitler’s war. The German people gave him the mandate. That Nazism was borne out of the Treaty of Versailles etc etc is beyond the scope of a comment on Flickr!

    Thanks again.

    • moodyb1 says:

      Hi Ian, your piece and additional info/comments provide some fascinating filler details which bring that tragic event to life. Your comment about parachuting allied air crew risking attack on the ground reminds me of a story my aunt told me – she grew up on her father’s farm in Tatsfield, a small village now situated just within the bottom loop of the M25. It was where the RAF would intercept the German bombers flying in from France to bomb London. They would watch the dog fights overhead. They all admired those young RAF fighter pilots. One day a german pilot bailed out of his burning Messerschmitt and came down on the farm, terribly burned. They took him to hospital (where he later died) on her father’s heycart, defended by a party of his farm hands armed with pitchforks against the locals, who wanted to finish off the young man, there and then.

      • Ian D B says:

        Thanks for your visiting and for your comment. Very interesting to read about the shot down German pilot and the farm hands keeping the mob at bay. Tatsfield, just looked it up, near Biggin Hill. Right in the heart of the Battle of Britain. Human behaviour was much the same, I’m sure. We read of German bomber crews machine gunning firemen on the ground, but I’d be surprised if Allied crews didn’t do the same.

        There is a nice story here though, not sure if you are aware of it? It was the last time a battle was fought on English soil; below the story of the Bf109 which was shot down by a Spitfire over Beachy Head is the tale of the Battle of Graveney Marsh which had a happy ending.


    • Rodney Brook says:

      My grandfather was on the rescue team that, was in Hanson lane in Halifax ,and his worked to clear sad sight of the people who had been killed in this bomb my grandfather was called John brook and lived at white hill illingworth Halifax, I’m quite sure the photo is of my grandfather at this time

  26. pasujoba says:

    Mmm, not sure I quite get where rackman is going with that one . Does anyone know exactly how many more bombs were dropped by the Allies on the Germans than they dropped on Britain . Therefore the tenfold bit could be inaccurate ,might be more might be less, but it is the wording commonly used in documentaries and the many books written about the Allied bombing campaign.
    The description Total War was first coined in 1936 by General Ludendorf. Used to describe warfare where the boudaries between civilians and the armed forces are much reduced and everyone becomes a military target . This was very much the case in all theatresof war during WW2. Objectional maybe but a fact nontheless .
    Ian and myself have and do champion the bravery of the aircrews even though there are many who want to shun thier efforts to beat the Nazis .

  27. rackman says:

    Total war , Hitler gave it to everyone and the Allies served it back tenfold . Unfortunate but probably unavoidable . This was the original comment and it struck me as a post war revisionist opinion..Hitler started the war and caused the loss of millions of lives, we didn’t, we had to fight for our survival. So our actions cannot be equated with Hitler’s as though we were one side of the same scale.We were not on a see-saw going back wards and forwards. Hitler was soaked in blood of civilians he was actively engaged in murdering due to his racial policies, and the blood of all the innocents he had killed by invading their countries. We had to use every available weapon at our disposal to stop this murderous lunatic. But our actions were forced upon us , we dd not initiate them or wish to do them. I hope you can see the clear distinction I am trying to make.We were not two sides of the same coin even though we had to use some of the same methods.
    Did we make some mistakes? Absolutely I think everybody would agree that Bomber Harris’s campaign against civillian targets was useless even Winston Churchill thought so .He couldn’t remove him without a great big detrimental fight ,and the war was winding down so he let him stay.At the same time we were being hit by V1 and V2 rockets so the mood for being nicer to Germany wasn’t that good..Was it 10 to 1 ? Were American totals included in that? If so I would go along with it.
    I’m not doubting Luddendorf as the author on Total War but I thought it grew out of the Spanich Civil War if you remember "Guernica" from Pablo Picasso?
    Finally my comment about Dachau and the spitting and stoning. I was trying to say that sympathy for the greater German public who were all found to be not Nazi’s after the war might be a bit misplaced. When we did firebomb various cities the description is always given of helpless civilians who were killed.It was these same helpless civilians who helped elect Hitler with 33% of the vote, kept quiet when the Jewish people were not allowed to work and subsequently disappeared, and spat and stoned the inmates who were on the road to Dachau. My point is let’s live with realism and not equate the actions of our fathers with the actions of our enemies as thought they were together. Oh my Uncles Book has just come out which was a complete surprise to me it’s called "We fought at Arnhem " written by Mike Rossiter and published by Bantam Press.

  28. Ian D B says:

    Hi Rackman, thanks for expanding on that.

    To be honest, I did groan a bit when I initially read your first comment because from time to time I get internet forum-type commenting on my Flickr pages from people who sign up in order to make a comment, sometimes directed at me, sometimes at someone else, before disappearing again.

    Anyway, I think we are actually saying the same thing. I can see your distinction and it is important from a historical perspective that we don’t view our society then by our standards now or that we imagine the Nazis to have been the same as the Allies.

    We will have one or two differences of opinion; people in the UK were not terribly bothered about the plight of the Jews, or the Czechs. It was a time of extremes and someone spouting off what we would today consider extreme racism, wouldn’t necessarily be frowned upon in the 1930s. But Britain certainly didn’t go to war for the benefit of Poland.

    Equally I don’t think Paul meant it in the sense that we gung-ho launched into war saying "We’ll show those German bastards how to fight a war!" Far from it, the appeasement movement before the war was very strong, every attempt was made not to go to war, conceding ground to Hitler. That desire for peace was probably stronger among the population of Berlin than it was in London.

    As for Arthur Harris… As mentioned before, we can try to picture ‘what-if’ scenarios, but it’s a pointless exercise. The Allies won the war. We do not know they would have won the war had they done any of it differently. For instance, it may have been better for Bomber Command to focus attention on U-boats rather than the cities, but then there were other factors at play, one being that until the invasion, bombing cities was one of the few ways British morale could be maintained.

    And Churchill? Well the man saved the world, he brought the US into the war, he never thought of Hitler as anything other than a menace. Churchill wasn’t perfect though, and his success means we are prepared to forgive him a lot, but then there is a lot to forgive. Dresden, for instance, was something he commanded but when it became clear that the Allies would have to police the German people, a certain amount of spin was needed. Hence his neglect to mention Bomber Command in his speeches thanking everyone from ammunition factory workers to the merchant navy.

    But you know your history and like I say, we seem to agree on more than we disagree. Not that any of that matters as much as the news of the book. Is it your Uncle that was interviewed for the book or your uncle that did the interviewing? I met a man the other day who was at Normandy and at Arnhem. "Aye," he said casually, "I saw some shit." I am always pleased to hear personal accounts. The war and its machinery and battles is one thing, but it was men and women who actually did the stuff.

    Link to this book on Amazon

  29. rackman says:

    Thanks for all that and I agree we now are agreeing. It is my Uncle Ron who did the fighting. The book seems to concentrate on three men who were there at Arnhem in various places either to give a human effect to the overall perspective or he could only find three still alive! The book seems a bit breathless and overblown but I guess that’s how you sell them these days. I liked the Bridge too far better.
    My Uncle gets attention because he was in the Navy and on the Ark Royal but had his foot injured by a Skua plane. He was invalided out and went to work at BSA in Birmingam, did not like Civy life and managed to get back in the Army as a paratrooper in REME. He parachuted in and was supposed to establish and stay near the HQ servicing the guns used in the fighting. He did this and some more but as they tried to withdraw he was captured and then held as a POW until the end of WW2.
    My Dad joined up in the Royal Engineers and after training was enjoying a wonderful world cruise on the way to the middle east.However it made an emergency detour to Singapore where he arrived in the late innings but still time enough to play.If you have read tthe books you will know what a horror story it was as they fell back and fell back. Their Captain pretended not to hear the surrender order and he and 3 companions out of his company of 250 managed to escape through Sumatra? to India. He spent the rest of the war there and in Burma.
    So WW2 history figured prominently around the dinner table!

  30. good stuff! very well done, i knew of it, but nothing about it.

  31. John Dover says:

    Great piece of research very interesting facts and pictures of something that should never be forgotten. Dad often spoke about this event with such sadness right up until his death in 2009. He heard the bomb going off and later worked for the Halifax Courier. The general opinion was that it was a bomber returning from a raid on Manchester which offloaded its one remaining bomb as it headed back to Germany.
    He recalled how a German plane, possibly a fighter, was brought down somewhere around Beacon Hill by the RAF later in the war.
    As a young newspaper photographer in 1952, he recalls being sent up to get a photograph of German families coming to retrieve the remains of Luftwaffe aircrew found on the hill.
    They were crying uncontrollably and it affected my father so much that he was unable to take a photograph.
    I bet that required some explanation back at the office! But it shows there are no winners in war.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi John, thanks for your comment and memories of your Dad.

      I have just been reading an excellent book called “British civilians in the front line” by Helen Jones. She says how there was a strange pride experienced by the people of towns and cities were once they had been hit by German bombs, it was as if they were ‘important enough for Hitler’ and also that they were suffering, if not quite as much as Londoners. But all that aside, that generation really went through it for us.

      Re; the target, it is possible the crew had not identified it correctly and dropped the bomb on Halifax instead. From main resource I have on the subject, on the night of 22 November 1940 there was an air raid on Manchester, or at least the air raid alert was raised, and that was between 8.45pm and 9.25pm which fits neatly with the events here. So your hunch that the bomber was coming from Manchester (and heading east of course) makes sense. I am glad you commented, I hadn’t thought to check the times of the air raid alerts in Manchester with the bomb falling on Halifax!

      Of course we could be totally wrong, it could have been coming from Liverpool. Halifax did have targets known to the Luftwaffe, I have a book on Halifax during the war; Thomas, P., “Seeing It Through – Halifax & Calderdale During World War II”. There are Luftwaffe target maps for Halifax in there, Dean Clough for instance.

      However, that same book does not mention any air crash on Beacon Hill in Halifax. I certainly have never heard of a crash site (the nearest to Halifax being that of a Handley Page Heyford near Hebden Bridge, the site of which my pal and I located some years ago – it is detailed on this website under pre-war air crash sites).

      There’s also no mention of it on Malcolm Bull’s site (link below) which is very thorough. Finally I have checked my copy of Bill Norman’s “Broken Eagles – Luftwaffe Losses Over Yorkshire 1939-1945” and again there is no mention of a Luftwaffe crash at Halifax. The nearest was a Ju88 which came down at Idle, Bradford following an air raid on Belfast. All 4 crew bailed out and survived but the abandoned aircraft killed 4 people on the ground but that doesn’t fit with your Dad’s memory of German families. That is such an unusual detail to recall that it must have some basis but I know of no German losses anywhere near… Have you any more information? I am sure it never happened at Halifax but equally sure it is not something wrongly remembered. Please let me know if you have any more leads, I will look around see if I can find anything.


      Beacon Hill

    • Christoher Coulthard says:

      John, I was lived in Halifax and served in the Air Training Corps in the town but I have never heard of any German aircraft crashing on Beacon Hill before? I am sure we didnt have any aircraft at all come down in the Halifax area the nearest crash site is at Hebden Bridge which was a pre war crash.
      About the Bomb in Hanson Lane my family lived within a mile of it at Pellon. Our Grandad had a good photograph of him and his Corporation Albion Lorry parked about four street further down Hanson Lane and still there was damage to the houses such as slates missing and dropped ceilings. Chris in Huddersfield

    • Brenda Hodgson (nee Shearing) says:

      I heard that there was a bomb stuck in the bomb shaft, and they could not possibly land back where they came from unless it was shaken off, otherwise the plane would have gone up in flames on landing, possibly back in German occupied Holland. I lived in Holmfield and the ground shook and I remember my Mum saying “Öh my God, we have had a bomb”

  32. Ian D B says:

    Message from Barbara White;

    hi read your article on the bomb that fell on Hanson lane Halifax. my great great aunt Emmerline Jagger was injured by the bomb and died the following march . she is registered in he civilian death register

  33. Ian Clay says:

    I have only just learnt about this incident today and that was from my Father who is in his late 80’s and as a boy lived on Coleridge Street.

    He told me that he and his Friend, John Burnel, were walking on Gibbet Street, when a soldier yelled at them to lie flat on the ground, they then heard a whistling sound and they threw themselves on the ground, as did the soldier.

    He then said he heard the blast they were shouted at by a soldier in uniform. He

  34. Cecilia Smith says:

    I was eleven years old when the bomb dropped on Hanson Lane, Halifax. I was baby sitting a neighbour’s two children along with my ten year old sister. The neighbour used to go to the Horse and Jockey pub at Highroad Well and entertain the company there, mainly soldiers from the barracks, with her singing. She had a beautiful voice and also sang on the radio in one of the local Worker’s Playtime broadcasts. Around nine o’clock that evening, we heard what we thought was a rumble of thunder but when the neighbour came home an hour later she told us that a bomb had been dropped on Hanson Lane. There was no siren sounded that night and it has always been a mystery as to who or why the bomb was detonated. Through the years some of the tales I have heard or read about appear to be pure fancy but I did work with a woman nine years after the incident and she told that me that her brother-in-law was killed that night in the pub. His name was Harry Walsh Moore. I am eighty six years old now but my memory is still very good. Perhaps you may be able to verify this story through the archives, if you are interested, as I have always felt the there was some mystery about this episode by the British government at the time. I might add that there were bombs also being dropped on Bradford around this time but do not know if they were bombed that night.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Cecilia, thank you very much for visiting and providing your memories of this time.

      48 year old Harry Walsh was killed by the bomb. There are some tales around that the bomb was dropped by an RAF bomber. As mentioned above there are reasons why I think it unlikely but I wasn’t there so I don’t know. But clearly at the time there was a feeling of something not right.

      I will take a look and see I have any records of raids on Bradford that night and get back to you if I find anything

    • Stephen Clayton says:

      Just to verify,Harry Walsh Moore was my wifes grandfather and died in Halifax in 1977

    • Tracey Partis says:

      Dear Cecilia, thank you for your account. I wonder if you knew my Mother’s family.. She would’ve been a year or two younger, Pauline Mann. She told me how she came home with her mother Doris to find their house flattened and they searched in the rubble for her sister Mavis.. She was safe in the cellar thankfully. They were rehoused. My Mum told me it was the only bomb dropped on the town by the Germans and it was thought to have been on the way back from Coventry possibly? Anyway, my grandfather was a great rugby player for Leeds and well known in the area Clement Mann x

  35. moodyb1 says:

    With reference to your comment about bombed towns possibly feeling a certain pride in “being important enough”, I remember my dad telling me of the time Lord Haw Haw said something along the lines “and don’t think we’ve forgotten about you, Halifax”, although I’m sure he would say this of many towns, to make the people fearful. Do any other Halifax people remember Lord Haw Haw’s name heck?

  36. Andrew Stock says:

    Dont want to be pedantic but loss of life in Coventry was in the hundreds not the thousands. Also, the Luftwaffe were not interested in bombing schools or hospitals- these would have been very isolated cases if not accidents.Really interesting things on here though.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks Andrew. Not pedantic; accurate. However, my comment remains “just over a week after the devastating Luftwaffe attack on Coventry which left thousands dead or injured and homeless” which could have been made more clear.

      Agree re; hospitals, though I do recall seeing a Luftwaffe map identifying Stepping Hill hospital as a legitimate target. But that may have been an exception or a secondary target perhaps.

  37. Elizabeth Graforth Sneath says:

    I am Elizabeth Sneath the daughter of Arthur and Joan Horner both now deceased and have been very interested in the articles about the Westhill bomb. Neither of my parents talked about it much. If June in Darlington is still alive I would love to get in touch with her.

  38. i thought that halifax was bomed but i was wrong ……………

    • moodyb1 says:

      Halifax was hit by a bomb- it landed on a pub and killed a dozen or so people. Details and photographs are on this site.

  39. Roert William Mullin says:


    It was a cold November night,
    Round about ten past eight,
    When uncle Arthur braved the rain,
    Along Taylor Street and Hanson Lane,
    For his usual, in the West Hill Pub,
    Of a couple of pints to settle his tea time grub.
    “Bye Harriet, I’ll be home about ten,”
    “I’ll sithee when I gets home agin.”
    But his thoughts of war, were far away,
    Where the young were fighting for freedom’s day,
    “t’lads may ne’er com home”, he thought,
    To the loved ones who prayed, distraught.

    The pub was dark, no chink of light,
    From blackout curtains sealed up tight,
    Gas mantles flickered in the smoke filled room,
    As locals chattered about the ensuing doom,
    “It’ll be o’er before summer’s end”,
    “Pray God will the scars then mend”,
    “Germans are only human too”,
    “It’s that Hitler who we must pursue”.

    A pint or two brought a mellow smile,
    As Uncle Arthur passed the time awhile,
    Until it was time for him to go,
    And leave the warmth of the firelight’s glow.
    “Good night God bless”, he was heard to say,
    “God willing we’ll sithee another day”.
    Pausing for a breath of the cold black night,
    He heard no sound, nor saw the flash of light,
    And Uncle Arthur was suddenly gone,
    Killed in an instant by a stray German bomb.
    Gone in a moment’s nightmare scene,
    Into memories of what may have been,
    Never to meet his nephews and nieces,
    Only remembered as been blown to pieces.

    What was his short life worth?
    His brief illumination on this earth,
    Snuffed out by a chance event,
    And remembered only in a poem’s lament

  40. Tracey Partis says:

    It was my mother’s family home (Doris and Clem Mann) – she was 7 at the time. She told me that her older sister was home and when she heard the sirens she hid in the cellar. Luckily she was discovered and rescued. My mother recalled the fear on returning with my grandmother, knowing that Mavis was in the house. Much relief was had when they discovered she had survived mostly unhurt. The council allocated them another house eventually and the peace garden was built in its place. My Mother Pauline used to joke about the chances of there being one bomb and it had to hit her house! They were very lucky in fact.

  41. neil gomes says:

    I grew up on back crossley terrace all we knew as a kids in the 1960s was that the area that was bombed was called the bomb buildings it was rough ground no houses next to the west hill pub my grandparents lewis &elsie brearley lived in taylor street your article takes me back really interesting

  42. David Milburn says:

    Just come across this article. My parents lived in Kliffen Place at this time. My mother recalled radio threats by Lord Haw Haw that the Germans were going to attack “Toffee Town” (MacIntoshs home).

    • Alison Batchelor says:

      I remember my mum talking about this to. She would have been 15 the night the bob fell, she remembered it happening. My grandad was an ARP warden, based at the barracks on Gibbet Street and they lived just across the road from there. She used to tell me of the night a load of incendiary bombs were dropped in the area, including the barracks and West View Park ( where my dad would have been living at the time as my other grandad was the park keeper and was possibly involved on the rescue as sn auxiliary fireman). Apparently shortly after getting them out, a load of planes were heard overhead. This area of Halifax at the time had a lot of engineering firms, including Asquith’s involved in the war effort as well as the barracks. Perhaps it’s surprising that Halifax wasn’t bombed given it’s industry.

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