Then & Now. V1 Flying Bomb site, Stockport.

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Then & Now. V1 Flying Bomb site, Stockport

Another V1 flying bomb site, this one fell in Adswood, Stockport at 5.30 in the morning of Christmas Eve 1944. Two homes were destroyed in the attack and many more severely damaged. Incredibly there was only one fatality*, Mr Joseph Briscoe. He died in hospital later in the day. The missile fell in the back garden of 87 Garners Lane. At 87 and 85 Garners Lane, two familes escaped with their lives, but were badly injured.

Another survivor was a Mrs Squires who was staying at a friend’s home at 89 Garners Lane. The Advertiser of 29th December 1944 says she was “…staying at the house for quietness.”

Mrs Squires was sleeping beneath the window on the side of the building facing the full force of the blast, yet somehow emerged without injury. Given V1s caused damage for about a mile around, and she was perhaps 25 metres from the impact point, that was a really lucky escape.

150 American soldiers helped with the clear up, patching up broken windows with sheets of tarpaulin.

“Not so usefully sympathetic were some people”, The Advertiser reported frankly, “The idle curiosity disgusted me” said a (ARP) warden who worked straight through until darkness fell again. “Before it was properly light we had people, strangers to the district, nosing around just to see the damage. It went on all day. Not one I stopped offered accommodation or even asked what they could do to help – and plenty of people needed help.”

But on a brighter note, the report commented, “At least two people, ere they parted from their shattered homes, left a Union Jack fluttering.”


*EDIT JANUARY 2012. Please see the comment further in this section by the grandson of Mr William Henry Etchells, whose demolished home is pictured below . Mr Etchells died in hospital in the first week of January 1945.


The scene now
V1 Flying Bomb site, Stockport.


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

Luftwaffe V1 attack on Manchester, Christmas Eve 1944

Details from
Flying Bombs Over The Pennines (1988), Peter J C Smith
The Advertiser, Friday 29th December 1944.
B&W images from the same.

Comment below from Christine Swain, copied here in full because it adds so much:

“I recently discovered a written account by my father, James Arthur Hallworth, of the night of 23 December 1944. My father was an RAF fireman, and was home on leave in Grove Street Hazel Grove. He heard the drone of a flying bomb over the house and then the muffled sound of the explosion in Garner’s Lane. In the spring of 1945, stalks of wheat were discovered growing in the bomb crater where no 87 had stood. It was a commonly held belief that the seed must have travelled with the doodle bug from Northern Europe, up the Humber estuary and dropped onto the Etchells house. Of course, these days the theory could easily be proved by scientific testing, but 70 years ago, the Grovers thought that the cul de sac that ran off Garner’s Lane, was called “Wheatcroft “ for this reason.”

45 comments on “Then & Now. V1 Flying Bomb site, Stockport.
  1. mick cooke says:

    very lucky indeed mrs squires , another great story ian great research as well
    take care and have a great week end

  2. PeaceLoveScoobie says:

    Incredible history right here, ‘only one fatality, 75 year old Mr Joseph Briscoe’. That means he was born in 1869 when many, probably a majority, of people still used muskets and was killed by an unmanned, jet powered, flying machine. That makes me wonder what kind of weapons will be around 30 years from now. I might be taken out by a Moon based laser by comparison, but I hope not. Thanks Ian, this photo is really one to make you pause and think.

  3. pasujoba says:

    An amazing story , well found site Ian . Congrats on another great piece of journalism,

  4. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    Another great piece again Ian. Don’t suppose the car was salvageable after this attack. Fascinating stuff to read.

    As for ghoulish sightseer’s, things haven’t changed much these days have they. In fact you are more likely to be photographed or filmed by camera phone or I-pod and stuck on the internet rather than people come over and ask if they can help or be involved. Nothing worse than dealing with someone when a snotty nosed teenager sticks a phone in your face so he can show his mates later!

  5. SolarScot. says:

    my neighbour shot himself and his 6 year old son and for weeks cars would come round here and slow down,what they thought they were going to see i have no idea! grand bit of detective work Ian

  6. C J Paul (chris) says:

    nice work ian love them old pic’s mate. but i just love old picture.
    and your history lesson is brilliant

  7. C J Paul (chris) says:

    ian have a look when you get 5 minutes.

  8. Tony-H says:

    Oddly enough I well remember this very same raid Ian, though just a sprat at the time.

    We lived in Sheffield during the war and these V1s flew over in the night heading west for Manchester, having been launched from over the North Sea. They were carried under the wing of specially modified Heinkel 111’s. The V1’s flew quite low and the flame from the pulse jet could be clearly seen and heard in the dark night. Some fell short and one hit ground and exploded in a field near our house, which was enough to send us scurrying out to a neighbours house. I recall hearing and seeing a V1 passing over and remember saying to my Mum, "Look mum, that’s a Spitfire firing its guns!"

    By the time they reached Manchester the V1s were widely spread. The worst case was one that destroyed a row of houses in Oldham, killing 27 people if I remember correctly.

    I’m told one also came down near Oswaldtwistle just off the Haslingden / Blackburn road.

    Of course I didn’t know any of this at the time, but remembered it so vividly that I researched it in the 80s.

  9. Ian D B says:

    many thanks for your comments folks!


    Thanks for your recollections Tony, that would be the site at Rossington? No casualties, the missile came down in a field?

    I’ve read numerous accounts of these things, people all say the same thing – the sound like a two stroke engine and the light coming from the pulse jet at the back.

    You are quite right in your comment about the one at Oswaldtwistle on the Haslingden / Blackburn Rd (see photo below, I managed to narrow it down to a corner of a field). The image above with the moon has links to the other sites I visited where V1s came down in this attack. Actually, I have another I need to upload, the one at Worsley… Should get my finger out and add that one as well.

    V1 Flying Bomb site at Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire

  10. neenawilson77 says:

    I lived just down the road from here and was told the story of the bombed houses. We lived near the derelict house next to the Church, that had once belonged to Elizabeth and Walter Wheelton. My parents tried to buy it in 1979 but it’s owner, Mrs Framji refused to sell it, despite abandoning it not long after, which led to its demolition 🙁

  11. Ian D B says:

    Thanks for your comment, appreciate you adding to the history.

  12. neenawilson77 says:

    You’re welcome – I know the old house next to the church was nothing to do with your photo or the bombed houses but a lady who lived in the derelict house before Elizabeth Wheelton lived there actually moved into the house that still stands next to the bombed ones at some point and the derelict house (number 68) became a bit of a local urban legend with the inevitable ghost stories – sadly I’ve never been able to trace a photo of it 🙁 It was demolished in 1997.

  13. kathcreates61 says:

    My father had spent a long time in Dover, Royal Artillery, manning guns on the piers and had had a lot of experience clearing up after V.1’s..

    He was home on embarkation leave in late Dec. 1944. My mother reported for ARP duty on the night of 23rd Dec 1944 but she was sent home as someone had voluteered to do her rostered duty as my father was home and about to leave for parts unknown – also their first baby was very ill in Stepping Hill Hospital.

    On the morning of the 24th Dec they were in bed when he heard a V1 coming over Stockport – recognising the sound he threw my mother out of bed and rolled her and then himself under the bed and waited for the motor to cut out which it did. My mother knew nothing of doodlebugs at that time.

    During the day she got a note saying to not report for ARP duty until after her husband had left for wherever he was going. That night the baby died just before midnight and 2 days later Dad left and ended up in the far east.

    Mum later found out that her group of ARP wardens had attended the V.1 bomb site.

  14. Ian D B says:

    Thanks for that kathcreates61, and apologies for my late reply. Somehow I missed your comment. Sad to read of your sibling not making it, but good your parents were at least together. That’s an interesting detail about your Dad being well acquainted with the sound of a V1 overhead!

  15. e.bowlas says:

    I was 12 years of age at this time living at 23 Madras Road in Edgeley Stockport. I slept in the back bedroom my mother and sister in the front/. I remember my mother coming into my bedroom early in the morning of 24th December 1944 and she looked through the window saying about an aeroplane being on fire and "that poor pilot", just then the flames stopped and she realised that this was what we knew as a " doodlebug, flying bomb and she exclaimed "under the bed quickly" then there was a very loud explosion, we lived about a mile and half from the badly damaged site and fortunately didn’t receive any damage, but my grandparents in Dale Street a lit tle nearer suffered ceiling cornice damage. we considered ourselves very fortunate indeed, it was a very frightening period.

  16. Ian D B says:

    Hi, thanks for your comment, another welcome addition to the account of this bombing. People like your Mum were smart – V1s were unknown in the north so to be able to recognise the sight of the flame coupled with the sound of the pulsejet cutting out and then taking action was quite something. I have read similar in other accounts above and on other photos in this set. She might have seen them in news films or maybe she had been in the south of England?

    Interesting to read of your thoughts too – you were old enough to have a vivid memory, not a Christmas you’d forget. Your mum at first having empathy for a ‘doomed pilot’ is a touching detail to have remembered.

    Damage from V1s was typically about a mile radius, so you weren’t far from having your windows blown out.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment, it is very much appreciated, the more people add to these records, the better. We live very different lives now.

  17. Love Of Carnage! says:

    christ – i’ve actually learnt something on Flickr … great stuff.

  18. Ian D B says:


    : D

  19. cgullz says:

    [] 🙂

    great reporting Ian, like that you’ve included other quotes too, about the rubberneckers and the flags being put up. really adds a feel for the times, the attitudes and social ‘rules’.

    Thankyou for sharing

    with the War Stories Group

  20. stevew27 says:

    I thought you might want a touch more detail regarding the 1944 Christmas Eve bomb in Garners Lane, Stockport. The Etchells family home shown in the picture belonged to my grandfather and grandmother. He was William Henry Etchells, a railway guard who was at home, preparing for Christmas, with his wife Florence and one of his daughters, Edith, who was expecting their first child. All the other children were serving elsewhere in the Forces at the time. His wife and daughter, although injured, did survive the attack and Edith’s daughter was subsequently born safely. Sadly, my grandfather (whom I never knew) died twelve days later in hospital. His name is recorded in both Westminster Abbey and The Imperial War Museum as one of the many civilian casualties of WWII.

    • Christine Swain says:

      I recently discovered a written account by my father, James Arthur Hallworth, of the night of 23 December 1944. My father was an RAF fireman, and was home on leave in Grove Street Hazel Grove. He heard the drone of a flying bomb over the house and then the muffled sound of the explosion in Garner’s Lane. In the spring of 1945, stalks of wheat were discovered growing in the bomb crater where no 87 had stood. It was a commonly held belief that the seed must have travelled with the doodle bug from Northern Europe, up the Humber estuary and dropped onto the Etchells house. Of course, these days the theory could easily be proved by scientific testing, but 70 years ago, the Grovers thought that the cul de sac that ran off Garner’s Lane, was called “Wheatcroft “ for this reason.

      • Ian D B says:

        Fascinating anecdote Christine, thank you for your comment. Whatever the truth behind it, the naming of Wheatcroft is a cool detail!

        If you would like to share your dad’s account, I would be happy to add it to this narrative? One of the best things about readers being able to comment and contribute to this website is that personal accounts and documents can be shared where otherwise they’d not see the light of day. No pressure if you don’t want to tho.

        • Christine Swain says:

          Yes, please share my Father’s account. I’m sorry I haven’t replied before – I’ve only just seen your comment when researching the German plane that came down on Torkington Golf Course.

  21. Ian D B says:

    [] stevew27

    Hi Steve, I have added a note to the main text; I didn’t know about your grandfather dying so soon after, his name needs to be recorded here.

    What a time it must have been for them. The V1 attack on 24 December 1944 is very well remembered but your family has more reason than most to recall that morning.

    Thank you for taking the time to sign up and add a comment, it is very much appreciated.


  22. John Findlow says:

    John Findlow I was very interested to read about the flying bomb which fell in davenport in nineteen forty four I and my brother and sister and parents lived in stern dale road which was 50 yards from the impact site all the windows of the house where blown in and tiles of the roof also the fireplace was blown across the living room my mum walked into the back bedroom to see to my brother and myself in her bare feet and didn’t realise she was walking on broken glass I am still in good health and live in cheadle hulme with my family .

    • Ian D B says:

      Incredible account, thanks for adding that John. Just looked at where Sterndale Rd is on the map. So fortunate that there were not more casualties given the missile fell right in the middle of a residential area. It’s good to read these accounts from people who were there at the time and to get them recorded.

  23. Clive Goalen says:

    It will be 70 years this Christmas since the V1 exploded. My memories include sitting in the air raid shelter of our neighbours the Thornleys in Stockdale Ave after the explosion and breakfasting on mince pies, I thought that the pies were covered in icing sugar but it was powdered wall plaster! I still remember the taste. It was about 6 months later before the house was repaired and we could return home. How my father managed to arrange temporary accommodation and storage for the furniture so quickly don’t know. It was said that the rocket flew over the golf course, the engine cut and then it swung around and landed on spare land next to the Etchells. Christmas Eve was spent keeping sightseers out of the house who, they said, were looking for shrapnel!
    It’s good to read John Findlow’s comment. I send my regards to him and June and George – hope I’ve got their names right!

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Clive,

      Thank you very much for adding your memories of this event. A mince pie dusted with plaster – that’s the sort of detail you only get from the people who were there! It’s a great story but it must have been a rotten Christmas for you. One of the coldest on record as well, I understand.

      For your information, researcher Peter Smith also says that the V1 came in from the north east then swung round over Bramhall and then along Garners Lane from the west. It was not uncommon for V1s to do this when the engine cut.

      I have e-mailed John Findlow, sent him your regards.

      Best wishes for Christmas 2014,


  24. John Findlow says:

    Hi Clive I do remember you and Keith hope you are both okay also your sister , my brother George came to see me last week and remembers you he now lives in wales , and june lives in wales, rgds
    john Findlow

  25. john lowe says:

    just returned from visiting a 85 year old relative in Stockport who aged 17 helped my dad who was ARP remembers the incident very clearly He has recorded as part of his ARP duties
    and still has the record of all the bombs that dropped on Stockport from 1941 to 1945 every time I see him I find out more information I will again chat to my relative the next time we meet to see what else I can find out he is a mine of information

    • Ian D B says:

      Sounds fascinating! If you can get some photos and such, I’d be happy to do a piece on here about him and his memories.
      drop me a line if he and you would like to do that.

  26. Lesley Groves, nee Taylor says:

    My parents also lived in Sterndale Rd, and backed on to the V1 landing site. dad was on leave, and when they heard the rocket engine stop, they dived under bed. The house windows were all smashed, and Dad reckoned the roof lifted with the blast, then fell back.
    My baby brother, 23 months, slept through the blast, although he was covered in debris. I was still in the womb, so safe. I therefore only have my parents’ story.
    Dad’s recollection was that the bomb fell into sand, held in reserve for the railway line, and it was the sand which absorbed some of the blast, hence doing less damage than it might have done. he returned to duty, leaving my pregnant mum to cope with the clean up, helped greatly by her kind neighbours, the Bebbingtons.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Lesley, many thanks for your comment, it’s always good to get your families’ memories noted. Interesting to read that the bomb may have landed in sand. Another of these bombs came down that morning at a farm in Sowerby, West Yorkshire. It landed in a freshly ploughed field and pushed the earth back like a concertina, but that also absorbed much of the blast.

  27. Peter Brehaut says:

    Hi, it would be good to hear from John Findlow if he’s got a minute, I will be up in Stockport on 29 and 30 July staying at tha Alma Lodge Hotel Buxton Road,where I used to work when I were only a lad, If John wants to phone I’m on 01481 255155, would be good to see him and have a chinwag. I was also a resident of Sterndale Road at the time of this bomb blast, born in December of 1943 I was also in a rear bedroom asleep in my cot, the glass from the windows stuck into the wall above my bed in “great shards” my dear old dad said, lucky i wasn’t old enough to be sitting up in those days, eh!
    Best wishes to all the other Sterndale Road residents of those distant days, I’ve been living in Guernsey since 1961 when my parents Stan and Elsie Brehaut who were evacuated from the Island in 1940, returned to their homeland and the family after too many years of separation.

  28. Peter Brehaut says:

    Peter Brehaut wishes to edit the previous comment of April25 2017 at 4.29 the reference to July should read 29th and 30th of June and NOT July.
    Thank you

  29. CHRIS NEWMAN says:

    My Dad had a piece of this doodlebug (or that’s what he said it was!)
    He lived at Rostherne Road about 1/3 mile away – he would have been 11 at the time. He thought the blast had gone mostly in one direction (i.e. away from his house!).
    we used to go to stay with my gran a lot when I was a kid, so knew the area well.

  30. Keren Gilfoyle says:

    Doodlebugs featured in numerous newsreels as well as a documentary made (I think) by Humphrey Jennings, so the noise of the ramjet engine would have been familiar to any cinema-goer in the second half of 1944 – which would have been most of the British populace 🙂

  31. Have heard that my grandfather, Edward Aaron Hankinson lived in Garners Lane and was ill in bed at the time the bomb landed. He was blown out of the bed and died on December 21st 1940. Any further information would be welcomed as there is only one person left alive other than me that knew my grandparents and I have no memory of with of my grandfathers as I was born in 1946..

  32. I’still trying to find out more information about my grandfather, Edward Aaron Hankinson lived in Garners Lane and was ill in bed at the time the bomb landed. He was blown out of the bed and died on December 21st 1940. Any further information would be welcomed as there is only one person left alive other than me that knew my grandparents and I have no memory of with of my grandfathers as I was born in 1946..

  33. Barry Howard says:

    Hi Ian, I have just found your story on the Garners Lane V1 crash site, I was 8 months old at the time and as my dad was in the fire service and was home for Xmas from I think Southampton where he was stationed at the time my mother was staying at her mothers house, number 10 Elmfield Road which backed on to Davenport Golf course (Davenport Golf Club has since moved to Poynton where I still live) which had been started by my grandfather and his brother and a business partner in the 1920s, his name was Frank R Swainston.
    I was told by my parents that I had been in bed with my mother and that the bedroom bay window frame was blown in on top of us but we were both uninjured.
    My father had heard the V1 and then heard it cut out and he had time to attempt to get us all, mum, grandma and me to a place of safety and he shouted to everyone to lie down as he dropped to the floor in the hallway as my grandma came out of the kitchen and asked him what he was doing on the floor at which point the V1 exploded and I was told that grandma was more upset that the blast had blown the tops off all her freshly baked mince pies than the damage to the house.
    Later that day my god parents, my mums brother and his wife, my aunt and uncle arrived from Lytham st Annes with their Xmas presents but when they saw the state of the house they left the presents and went back home!! apparently with no attempt to assist with the clear up.
    My two uncles were in the forces Geoff from Lytham the RAF as an aircraft fitter and his twin brother Ray in the Tank regiment but just where both of them served I never knew, I will have to try to find out some day.
    Thanks Ian and all the contributors for an excellent article.
    Cheers Barry Howard

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Barry,

      Thank you for taking the time to add these details. The bit about your grandma being more upset at her ruined mince pies made me chuckle.

      The actions of your father were not uncommon, many people with memories of this attack say their parents had seen newsreels of V1s and – even though unheard of in the north of England – they knew what to do and didn’t waste time.

      I’m pleased you found this page, and wish you well with your research about your uncles. The best document you could have would be their service records. Ideally there will a paper copy someone in your family has. Failing that, you can apply for a copy.

      Get a copy of military service records


  34. Ratty says:

    My mother lived with her sisters on Longmead avenue, Hazel Grove during this time. At the back were boggy fields, now the Wimpy Estate. She recalls after all the air raid all clear sirens went off going down to the fields to watch German Bombers returning from bombing Manchester, dropping any unused ordinance onto the fields as they passed.

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