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