Then & Now; V1 Flying Bomb Site, Matley near Hyde.

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Then & Now; V1 Flying Bomb Site, Matley near Hyde

The Doodlebug that landed at Westwood Farm at Matley near Hyde destroyed the farm and killed two people.

Farmer Edwin Foulkes’ Mother in law, Mrs Elizabeth Greenwood, was visiting for Christmas. She and her 16 year old grandson, Gordon Foulkes were killed when the missile struck at 06.25 on Christmas Eve 1944. The bomb also killed a number of livestock at the farm.

Mr Foulkes, his wife and daughter Betty all survived the attack but Mr Foulkes lost the desire to farm; on top of the family losses and seeing his home completely destroyed, he returned from hospital to find the remains of his property had been looted in his absence. He built the house above on the site of Westwood Farm.

Betty still lives locally. When I visited the current owners told me that Gordon had planned to stay over at a friend’s house that night, but due to his Gran staying over he had to remain at home.

Pat Cunningham interviewed Betty McKeown (nee Foulkes) in 2005 and adds a postscript which heaps tragedy upon tragedy; Mr Foulkes lived well into old age but, as Mrs McKeown explained, he became unwell in the late 80s so the family doctor was called, who gave him an injection. The doctor was mass murderer Harold Shipman and, Cunningham notes, “…Mr Foulkes was dead before Shipman got back to his car.”

Photo above taken from roughly the same position. The farmhouse was where the red phone box now stands. The missile exploded in a tree at the front of the farmhouse.


Another view of the bombed farmhouse from the local newspaper report of 29th December 1944

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

Details from
Flying Bombs over the Pennines, Peter J C Smith, 1988.
Peakland air Crashes The North, Pat Cunningham, 2006
Images below from
Hyde Wartime Memories, R Butterworth, A Ehrenfried, S M Walker, 1996
The Ashton Reporter of December 29 1944

38 comments on “Then & Now; V1 Flying Bomb Site, Matley near Hyde.
  1. Nate Parker Photography says:

    a most compelling depiction of human tragedy, history is amazing-

  2. rob of rochdale says:

    Flaming ‘eck, what a sad, sad story!

    Magnificent piece of research there Ian.

  3. mick cooke says:

    brilliant research as rob says but a sad story

  4. amyrey says:

    Great bit of history… I wasn’t expecting that last twist to the story!

  5. Tech Owl says:

    What a revelation! No more to be said on that point.
    Nice shot again Ian – on the first old shot, is the chimney the same as the house in the current shot?

  6. pasujoba says:

    Great research Ian , its hard to believe how bad it once was there . This as been a remarkable series of shots . I have enjoyed it tremendously !

  7. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    Great research on your part again, very sad story and end to Mr Foulkes. Sometimes life doesn’t seem to make sense does it.

  8. Richard Tierney says:

    Cracking Ian.. sooo well put together as usual. Cant belive the run of bad luck to the family.

    Agree with Paul great series…

  9. Mustang Koji says:

    Some painstaking research here, sir. Excellent job. This is the only way the sacrifices made by people can be kept for future generations.

  10. Ian D B says:


    LOL, very good. Yeah, my desk at work too.

    By the way, just to add to that, across the road from here is the site of a demolished mid terrace where Ian Brady and Myra Hindley lived.

  11. pasujoba says:

    Shipman stitched my leg up when I was a kid , whilst he practised in Tod , fortunately I was too young for him to practise his more regular ‘cure’ on . So it makes me a Shipman injection survivor 🙂

  12. bandman12 says:

    A Job like story from the Bible of modern living. Well constructed presentation.

  13. may472011 says:

    Ian D.B. I read your report with much interest. My ancesters lived at Westwood Farm in the early 1900’s. I have a photo of the wedding of my Gt Aunt Martha Ellen around about 1906 taken at the front of the farmhouse with a monkey puzzle tree in the foreground. The family name was Andrew.

  14. glossoplad lvswales says:

    I recall that when the farm was hit by the V1 in 1944 and destroyed killin family members it also blew out the windows of a Public House on the Mottram to Hyde Road.
    I was 11 yrs old at rhe time but I seem to recall that the Glossop Chronicle surmised that the V1 was aimed for Manchester bgut several years after the war there was talk that RADAR apparatus spares were stored in tunnels near the farm ( there were tunnels there) and it was there the bomb was aimed. We lived in Hadfield less than three miles, as the crow flies, from where the bomb hit,

  15. Ian D B says:

    Thanks Brian, always good to hear from people who remember this attack. There have been quite a few people across the area who recall that sad Christmas Eve.

    The Glossop Chronicle got it right however, these things couldn’t be aimed with any degree of accuracy. 45 were aimed roughly at Manchester from off the Yorkshire coast but none of them came down in the city centre, closest was at Didsbury.

  16. bazylek100 says:

    Sad story, yet very good report, Ian.
    I don’t know how much a single V1 bomb costed, but it surely wasn’t cheap. Apart from the obvious moral aspect of such attacks against random civilian population, it strikes me that all the Germans achieved with that one was killing two people and changing fate of one family… In a way it reminds of the Zeppelin raids during the preceding war, costly and refined airships blundering in the fog at night and dropping bombs on accidental victims, without any impact on the war’s course, just ruining life of individuals far away from the frontline.

    keeping history alive

    in: Traces of War

  17. cgullz says:

    [] superb wording Robin, an excellent summary of my thoughts too.
    excellent research Ian, very thorough and thought provoking too with the ‘now’ pic. there must be loads of ‘now’ places where folks just don’t know what things occured during the war years. a great way to preserve history, and raise awareness. particularly interesting to have feedback too from folks that have knowledge and connections to the area.

    keeping history alive

    in: Traces of War

  18. cgullz says:

    Thankyou for sharing

    with the War Stories Group

  19. Jon Stafford says:

    I have just found an old family photogragh of a first world war era soldier and his wife with what could be their son. On the back of the photo is the name and address:
    Mr Thomas Swindells
    Westwood Farm
    Matley, Hyde
    I wonder if there was a time that some of my family lived at the farm in any way. The swindells are my grandmothers side of the family.
    What a tragic story though, of all the distance a V1 could fly, it lands directly on a farm in Hyde. Added to that the Dr Harold Shipman connection………..who was in fact our family doctor back in the early 80,s!!

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Jon, thanks for your comment. I have looked in Cunningham (2006), there is no reference to the earlier residents at Westwood Farm. You have probably already checked on line resources such as the 1901 census for example? I found out a lot about my late father’s history from that. Oddly enough, he was from Hyde too.

      V1s were random weapons designed to strike at civilians as revenge for the Allied raids on German cities, so this was a success as far as the Nazis were concerned. But a tragic story indeed, with the deaths, the looting and then having Shipman as their GP.


      • Jon Stafford says:

        Thanks Ian. Iv spoken to my great uncle Bill about this and from his recolections, Thomas Swindells was infact my Great Great Grandfather and was also the local Chemist around the time of the early 1900s and had mail delivered to the farm. The picture i mentioned was of his son Joseph (my great grandfather) and it appears he had sent the picture to him.
        My Great Uncle Bill does remember going to the farm in the mid-late 1930,s (he is 93 now!) with my Grandad and also visiting the local pub there, The Rising Moon “because they always had beer there”
        I am trying to post the picture here for you but regardless, a very interesting story and many thanks for your own research.

        I must admit, i didn,t know the V1s were launched from aircraft from the North Sea. At that time, im surprized the aircraft themselves were not intercepted by the RAF or Coastal Command.

        Fascinating history.


        Photo used with kind permission

        • Ian D B says:

          Hi Jon,

          It’s good when bits of history fall into place! Happy to upload your photo into this comments section – just email to me and I’ll upload it.

          Re; the Heinkels, two were attacked by Mosquito nightfighters; one was shot down, and another managed to get back to Germany but crashed on landing killing one crew member.


        • Sharon says:

          I have the same family photos

    • Sharon says:

      Hi only just seen this I have a birth certificate for Martha and Thomas swindells for there son my grandad Alfred born at Westwood farm 1913

  20. Jon Stafford says:

    Hi Sharon
    Thank you for commenting. I wonder if can put any more light on the family and if indeed, via any means, we may be connected in way.
    Best wishes


  21. Margaret Newton says:

    I lived on Matley lane and was 5 years old at the time. My Dad was in the Fire brigade. I heard the doodle bug flying then the engine cut out.I pulled the bedclothes over my head and saw a huge flash of light then the house shook. I fell out of bed and the ceiling fell on top of me. My dad came home very upset and I listened to him telling my Mother of finding someones scalp and
    Seeing dying and dead cattle. He said the Mother was blinded.The farm was across the fields. About a mile away.I knew Mr Fouks.

  22. Margaret Newton says:

    My name was Margaret Hannaford. My dad was Noel, known as Ted and he drove the Squire Fawley fire engine at Hyde.when he was called to the farm.When I was married we lived in a wooden bungalow up the lane from the farm. Often seeing Mr Foulks. I told him I remembered the bomb and about my dads involvement. Later I knew Dr Shipman due to my work on the Ambulance service, and 12 of his victims. He was kind and caring with his patients and I am so sad to know that poor man was also a victim. RIP,Mr Foulks.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Margaret, thank you very much for adding your memories of this attack and of Mr Foulkes. I always appreciate people adding their memoirs, it’s important to record as much as we can.

  23. Les Horn says:

    I was 9 months old at the time and stayed in Greenfield Bungalow next to the New Inn. I understand that our windows were blown out as well as those of the New Inn. I remember the Foulkes well in my childhood in particular Betty.

  24. M. Fawdry says:

    The 1960’s, British film ‘Battle of Britain’ will confirm Ian D B’s comment. At a time when both sides were observing International Law re not bombing residential areas,one German plane unintentionally bombed a residential part of London ( well documented, apart from this historically accurate film ).The crew were Courts Marshalled on their return to base in France. Then, PM Churchill ordered the first indiscriminate attack,on Berlin, as a reprisal. This led to the German indiscriminate bombing change.

    Actually, by switching from bombing legitimate targets like industry and airfields, the decline of Luftwaffe attacks on RAF airfields, when the RAF had only a further 2 week survival expectation, allowed the RAF to recover. It could be said, therefore,that that one German crew’s mistake, and Hitler’s anger at Churchill’s response , lost Germany the war !!

  25. James Seaborn says:

    Hi, I knew Betty and her husband Mac as they were good friends with my nanna & grandad.

    My nanna grew up with betty and remembers the incident well. She lived close by on godley hill, Hyde.

    As a youngster i was often told about that fateful night.

    I was told that Betty could hear the rocket getting closer and closer and curled up tight to her grandma who was sleeping next to her in her bed. This saved Betty’s life as she was partially protected.

    Following the incident and for the rest of her life, small fragments of glass would seep out of betty’s face. She collected all of these in a matchbox.

    Thanks for posting as this is the only article I have found regarding that incident

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