V1 flying bomb site, Chapel Street, Tottington near Bury.

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V1 flying bomb site, Chapel Street, Tottington near Bury

At just before 6 o’clock on the morning of Christmas Eve 1944, 6 people in the village of Tottington were killed when a V1 flying bomb dived into a row of terraced houses. A further 9 people were injured, one of whom died later of injuries.

This photo was taken across the road from the bomb site, upon which there is now this memorial plaque and garden.

British civilians in the Summer of 1944 probably thought that following the Normandy invasion, the horrors of war on the home front (apart from the fear of a telegram) were nearly over. But 3 years after the Blitz, cruise missiles and rockets appeared in the skies, bringing terror without warning. V1’s were pulsejet propelled missiles, usually launched from ramps in Northern France and Holland against London and the South East.

However, on Christmas Eve 1944, 45 Doodlebugs were launched from underneath adapted Heinkel He111 bombers flying over the North Sea, because the launch sites in Europe had been overrun by the Allies. The bombers released the V1s aimed at Manchester, then turned back to base. Many of the missiles landed harmlessly; the worst was at Abbey Hills Road in Oldham, where 27 people were killed.

An unintentional feature of the bomb was that as the timer counted down to the designated moment, the engine would cut and the thing would dive to the ground. People learned to listen to the engine, and knew that when it cut they had just a few seconds to take cover. The Nazis overcame this flaw so that later models went into a powered dive giving no warning at all. But then shortly after that, V2 rockets came tearing out of the stratosphere at 4 times the speed of sound… As newly arriving American servicemen were reminded, Great Britain was a war zone.

People killed;

Mr Nicholas Conway (50) and Mrs Mary Ann Conway (48). They were at number 19 Chapel Street.
Miss Annie Greenhalgh (75 ). 21 Chapel Street.
Elizabeth Hodgkinson Draper, (about 55). 31 Chapel Street.
Mr James Dyson (52) and Mrs Teresa Dyson, visiting from Bulwell, Nottingham, at 33 Chapel Street.

People injured;

Miss Mary Conway
Mrs Bertha Greenalgh. (died February 20th 1945)
Mr Dewhurst Greenhalgh
Mrs Midgley
Miss Ethel Riley
Mrs Hodges
Mr Herbert Young
Miss N Hamer
Miss Ellen Barnes

Below; Close up of the Memorial plaque.

The Whitehead Garden Memorial, Tottington.

Below; Two photos from the Bolton Evening News, Dec 27 1944. The report was censored and does not identify the town to prevent the enemy knowing how well their missile performed.


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

38 comments on “V1 flying bomb site, Chapel Street, Tottington near Bury.
  1. Kingsdude/Dave says:

    Great background info Ian – Blitz Street on the TV recently was pretty much all about V1/V2s this week – scary machines and I never realised they were used this far north !

  2. Ian D B says:

    Missed that. Have to see if it’s available online. I think this V1 was the furthest north. V2’s couldn’t get this far.

  3. Kingsdude/Dave says:

    Its worth watching except for the ever annoying Tony Robinson !

  4. andyholmfirth says:

    Terrifying.Your effects on the photo bring it home.

  5. redrocker_9 says:

    What a tragic story.

  6. mickb6265 says:

    such a strong story,ian…love to see and hear them..

  7. Tech Owl says:

    Great depth of detail Ian – I think the effect fits well to this story.

  8. Keartona says:

    Shocking stuff!

  9. pasujoba says:

    Great story Ian , the old shots taken at the time are great finds .
    You can watch Blitz Street on the internet if you go to channel 4 site.
    Its a bit boring , but interesting too . You will see when you watch .

  10. Ian D B says:

    I saw one of those Blitz St programmes once, thought it was alright. Would’ve been better to take some houses due for demolition, load up an aircraft and bomb from 20,000 feet. Though admittedly there are some health and safety issues with that idea.

    These things are really chilling though, the randomness of it all. One moment you’re just getting out of bed and looking forward to Christmas and it’s your last moment, just like that. Civilians went through hell too.

  11. mick cooke says:

    great story and photos

  12. GaryJS â„¢ says:

    Wonderful history – you really got across what it must have been like – horrific… I like your processing too.

    (The link to the audio seems to be broken)

  13. Ian D B says:

    Thanks Gary, and for the heads up. The file was from wikipedia, looks like they’ve a bug preventing their use at present. Just been looking around, all the other links are duff as well. Thought I’d found one, but it was incomplete. Will keep an eye on it and put back on when they get it sorted.

  14. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    Excellent background information as usual to give some "life" to the existence of this memorial stone. I like the addition of newspaper clips and photos as well.

  15. steve-bury-2004 says:

    Excellent archive information, very interesting to read all this. Thank you.

  16. Simon says:

    I was in st Ann’s church yesterday across the street from this. there is still shrapnel in the font from this bombing.

    • Ian D B says:

      Is that right? I shall have to revisit… I know all the windows were blown out in the church. Nice detail, thanks for adding that Simon.

  17. Philippa Bower says:

    I was a baby at the time. My mother was born Molly Whitehead and was staying with her parents, Sidney and Katherine Whitehead, in Stormer Hill – the big house on top of the hill. The blast of the bomb blew in the window above my cot. Luckily the glass was caught in a cat net so I was unharmed. There was much grief in the area about the loss of life and my grandfather put up the memorial

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Phillipa, thanks for sharing your story with us. There are not many memorials like this one. It’s pleasing that the event is so well remembered in Tottington, lots of people are aware of the V1 attack here, no doubt as a result of your grandfather’s efforts.

    • Robert gregory says:

      Wow.. that was incredible. How lucky you were not seriously hurt.

  18. Mike Sneddon says:

    Thanks for this. Fascinating. I lived just a few doors away from the site for seven years without even knowing the history.
    Also, with regards to remembering the event, there is a memorial service in the church this Christmas Eve.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks Mike, I never knew about the service so thank you for that. There is a service in Oldham too – guess there will be a few around the north west as it is the 70th anniversary this Christmas.

  19. I’ve known about this for many years,in fact I was born on the 28th of December 1944 in a nursing home on Hilda Avenue,Tottington.
    I have often thought if I was born four days earlier and the doodlebug came down a few hundred yards short of were it did,i most certainly wouldn’t be here today.

  20. “The night the bomb dropped”

    I grew up in Tottington (50’s 60’s) listening to these tales. Later, I met Germans who said “Impossible, they were launched on London”. I put it down to misinformation. Later I learned about the special squadron set up in Holland to attack Manchester. The Mrs Midgley, above, is one of my relatives. My mother, who was 17 at the time, remembers all the plaster falling off the ceiling at 1 Turton Road, in her bedroom. My grandmother, Mary Midgeley, came running in saying: “Get up, get up we are being bombed!”

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks for adding these details Philip. I have had a couple of people confidently tell me it was impossible for a V1 to get as far as Manchester!

  21. Michael Darlington says:

    I was 8 months old at the time and according to my grandparents, Arthur & Emily Butterworth, we were under the kitchen table at 17 Ryecroft Avenue, Tottington when the V1 dropped on Chapel Street.

    • Philip Robinson says:

      Arthur Butterworth – he was an electrician. What happened to Paul Butterworth.

    • Michael Daynes says:

      I can just remember this V1. I was 4 at the time living in Hawthorne Crescent a couple windows were blown out at our house. My father Wiliam Daynes had been visiting friends in Chapel st a few hours earlier for a Christmas drink. I remember all the traffic being diverted round Kirklees st avoiding the bomb damage. Later, as children, we played in the damaged buildings, which of course was extremely dangerous.

  22. Joyce Bargh says:

    I was brought up with a story that the family were all in one bed in a house in Rochdale Road, Bury,as they would not go to the air raid shelter, and heard the doodle bug go over and then heard the engine stop. When the blast was further away they knew they were safe but heard the next day it had landed at Tottington, about 5 miles away. After watching the T.V. programme this week my husband declared it could’t have been so but, after Googling, found your site so confirmed the story.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Joyce, thanks for your comment. I missed the TV programme, what was it?

      Yes many people have dismissed the story of V1s landing as far north as Bury because they didn’t know about V1s being air launched.

      The air raid siren will have sounded because of the number of missiles coming over the Manchester area. Your family will not have sought refuge in an air raid shelter because by 1944 air raids over Manchester were a thing of the past, it would have been the first time in 3 years that they heard the air raid siren so probably assumed it was a false alarm and remained in bed. Most people did. Rather that than get out of bed and trudge to the shelter for a false alarm. In fact, many people had by then returned their Anderson and Morrison shelters because they were no longer needed.

  23. Joyce Bargh says:

    Hi Ian

    The programme was on More 4 (I think that this is on ITV network) on Sunday 1 November 2015 at 9 p.m. and called Nazi Megastructures.

    Kind regards


  24. Lyndon Evans says:

    Hello, I was born in Tottington Police Station in 1941. We still lived there at the time of the raid – the blast blew our windows in and the ceilings came down. My older brother always said he remembered it clearly, I didn’t. My dad was on duty that night . Pc Evans He was the only police officer on that night and was one of the first rescuers on the scene, It would still be dark and it must have been very difficult to find the trapped survivors
    It was always difficult for him to talk about it, being the village Bobby he new most of the victims and survivors personally. The devastation was terrible and over such a large area and changed the village?
    In 1952 I attended St Anne’s school opposite the bomb site we used to play in remains, I think it was the same year we saw the creation of the park.
    My father retired from the police in 1958 and sadly we moved away from Tottington.

    • Ian D B says:

      Many thanks for sharing this account with us Lyndon. Must have been terrible for your dad being first on the scene.

  25. Joyce Bargh says:

    Thank you for that information.

  26. Philip Robinson says:

    I have since learned that the launch aircraft were specially modified Heinkel 111 aircraft. The V1 was mounted under the port wing.

    The aircraft would take off from Holland and fly half way over the north sea. The pulse jet motor would be started, and then the device released. The Heinkels would then return to Holland. The payload was 850 kg warhead (about 2000 lb)

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