V1 Flying Bomb site, Oldham.

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V1 Flying Bomb site, Oldham.

My Uncle Amos was bombed out of his house in Oldham, Lancashire, when a V1 flying bomb struck near the corner of Abbey Hills Road and Warren Lane on Christmas Eve, 1944. He was lucky to survive; 27 people were killed and a further 49 people were injured.

45 of these missiles had been launched from Heinkel He-111 bombers off the coast of Yorkshire and about 30 made it to the target area. Some landed harmlessly on the moors but the one that struck Oldham did the most damage.

The photo above shows the corner of Abbey Hills Road and Warren Lane. The building at the extreme left of the photo is from before the attack. The rows of newer houses on both sides of the road, and some older buildings in the immediate area still bearing scars from the shrapnel, are the only evidence of the attack today.

Abbey Hills Road, Oldham. Christmas 1944.

See here for an overview of this attack;

82 comments on “V1 Flying Bomb site, Oldham.
  1. Tech Owl says:

    What an amazing series of shots Ian, and so interesting that there are marks from the time still to be seen

  2. Mark McKie says:

    Excellent set of shots Ian.

  3. pasujoba says:

    Good work Ian , the destruction seems to cover a wide area .

  4. andyholmfirth says:

    Must have been terrifying ! Nice bit of family history though with your uncle survivng

  5. SolarScot. says:

    youd never have guessed it looking at the houses now..bit of trivia here Ian,there is a little cottage near here sat by a bridge next a PaperMill and it was bombed by a Zepellin in the First World War !

  6. Billy Currie says:

    I was watching "Al Murray’s Road to Berlin" recently and there was a piece about these.

  7. MokuCo says:

    Your Uncle was neighbours with my family then.
    My grandparents and mother (who was just over one year old) were dug out of that rubble. As I have heard the story, people in houses on both sides of theirs were killed, but they all survived pretty much unscathed. They lost everything though.
    My Gran never liked the sound of motorbikes, she said she was always waiting for their engine to cut out as that was what the bomb sounded like just before it hit.
    My Dad, who is a few years older than my Mum remembers being taken by his father to see the bombsite on Christmas day.

  8. chrissie_uk says:

    I was interested to see your photograph. I used to live on Abbey Hills Road and was 20 months old when the Doodlebug struck. It is my very first memory and was in my grandmother’s arms, obviously, as a baby was not sleeping and she was trying to get me back to sleep. I remember seeing the Doodlebug flying silently past and this was followed by a loud explosion. Apparently I was very ill with colic afterwards due to the shock.

    My Aunt and Grandmother brought me up, my Aunt was headmistress of the local primary school on Brook Lane.

    Moko your mother was very lucky to survive.

    I came across this site as I am writing my memoirs for my grandchildren.

  9. Ian D B says:

    Thanks MokuCo and chrissie_uk

    This link is to a page about V1 bombs. At the bottom of the page is a link to a sound file of a V1 bomb passing overhead – you hear the cut out of the engine, like a motorbike as you say and the ghostly silence before it impacts. Scary stuff.


    Good luck with your memoirs Chrissie.

    I’m afraid I don’t know anymore about my Uncle’s home on Abbey Hills Rd, my mother was just 3 at the time.

    In this set are a few more photos of bomb sites in Oldham that may be of interest.


    Many thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

  10. audrey_birch says:

    I’ve just come accross this site by accident. I was four years old at the time of this bombing and lived on Glodwick Road, just lower than St Marks Church about 100 yds or so from Abbeyhills Road. I remember my mother throwing herself over me and a very loud bang, all the lights were swinging and large chunks of plaster fell off the ceiling. My mother had been getting ready for Christmas Day and had food for Christmas on the kitchen table and it was all covered in plaster. We were very lucky that night.

  11. Ian D B says:

    Thank you Audrey, this sort of detail – from people who were there at the time – is priceless. It must have been terrifying for you and your family. Your Mum’s reactions were quick and selfless! All things considered, I’m not surprised you count yourself fortunate.

    This happened at 5.50 in the morning. I believe the air raid siren had sounded at 5.15 (though I’m not certain of that detail) and possibly most people thought it was a false alarm – things were more relaxed at that stage of the war, so that could account for why so many people didn’t take cover?

    In all, over 1,000 homes in Oldham were damaged in this attack. St Marks church, as you probably know, was very badly damaged.

    Recently I have been visiting some of the other places that were hit in this attack, and documenting what happened there. If you’re interested, the link below will take you to a photo with links to the individual photos.

    Thanks again for your comment Audrey, very thoughtful of you to share your memory of tthis tragic event.



  12. bandman12 says:

    You would think that memories like these might save us from future follies. But…

  13. terrytamba says:

    I was 4 and a half years old at the time living in Goddard Street on the other side of Alexandra Park from Abbeyhills Road and this was my first memory, the motor cycle sound over the roof tops followed by a flash and huge bang. This article says the German bombers released their V1s over the Yorkshire coast, so they must have really got lost since where I lived was slightly west of where the bomb struck.

    Colin Broughton
    Toronto, Canada

    • Victor Croasdale says:

      I lived in 102 Goddard St. (at the corner with Belgrave Rd.) I was born in the early 1950s but I remember the houses in picture being talked about.
      My father and grandmother lived on Goddard St. from about 1938, although at the time the V1 hit my father was in the RAF in the far east.
      Victor Croasdale
      Spring Valley,Illinois

  14. Ian D B says:

    Hi Colin, thank you for sharing your (first!) memories with us. The V1s had no navigation controls, the only aiming was done by the pilot of the He-111 as he released it in the general direction of Manchester. They came down all over the place, and none were on target in that the city centre was spared. But not Oldham, alas.

    • J says:

      This could be attributed to the false reports being sent back to germany by double agents which would provide false information on successful strikes so they would fall short of the target. This was certainly done around London and it would make sense for other cities as well

  15. MokuCo says:

    Chrissie_uk My grandparents ended up running a small shop on Greengate Street after that, Annie and Jim Taylor.

  16. cgullz says:

    really touches home when it gets personal and family are involved. especially considering the numbers that died. great photo and notes.

    keeping history alive

    in: Traces of War

  17. d j buckley says:

    My aunty and uncle Rene and Stanley Jones were killed in the raid. My mother remembers that when Rene was recovered someone had stolen her wedding and engagement rings.
    Militarily it seems such a strange thing to do – launch an attack on Manchester on Christmas Eve, what were they hoping to achieve?

  18. Ian D B says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/d-j-buckley] Hi David, thanks for your comment adding to this history. Awful to hear someone had stolen from your dead Aunty. There seems to have been a fair bit of looting and bad behaviour going on after bomb attacks which in popular memory we want to forget. During that same attack, this farmer was bombed out of his home in Matley. When he returned the place had been looted.
    Then & Now; V1 Flying Bomb Site, Matley near Hyde.
    Meanwhile in Stockport, the local paper quoted an ARP warden who was disgusted with the ‘idle curiosity’ of people who came to have a nosy at what had happened but offered no help.
    Then & Now. V1 Flying Bomb site, Stockport.

    As for what the Nazis hoped to gain from such an attack… It was late in the war, they were getting desperate. It was intended as a blow to civilian morale. The Nazis called them ‘revenge weapons’. Revenge, reprisal, retaliation… It was meant as a blow against the Allies, not to achieve anything except restore some pride. We have it good now, when we look back on what our families went through 70 years ago, we can’t complain really.

  19. d j buckley says:

    Thanks for the reply, I have found the comments and photos very interesting. I note what you say about revenge weapons, as I know that we were doing heavy raids. My neighbour’s brother-in-law was killed the day before (Dec 23rd) leading a bomber raid on a marshalling yard in Cologne. The Bomber Command Memorial was long overdue
    Once again thanks for all the photos

    • John Thorpe says:

      My father was a fireman at the time (NFS),and told us how they attended the tragic scene of demolished houses, Christmas trees and presents and bodies amongst the rubble. We lived in Middleton and heard the Doodlebug pass overhead, we were always told if we could hear the engine, we were safe because after the engine had run out of fuel the missile would continue as a glider for a short distance, we did hear the bang and explosion. Another few seconds of engine burn and it would have landed harmlessly near Hartshead Pike. I passed along Abbey Hills Road many time afterwards with my Grandad on the way to Stalybridge and after the houses has been rebuilt you could see from the colour of the roof tiles which houses had been demolished.My initial search in the Oldham Chron didn’t pull up much information on the event.

      • Ian D B says:

        Thanks for your comment John. The press were censored during the war of course, so as not to let the enemy know how well their missile performed. I imagine the newspaper you read referred to the V1 falling on ‘a Northern town’ even though the story was published in the Oldham Chronicle!

        My grandfather, who lived at Mortimer St, Oldham, was also an NFS fireman.

        Some more info here from Peter Smith’s books; another NFS fireman in Oldham was a Mr Wilfred Swann who lived at Orme St and would probably have known your father and my grandfather. He was on the scene very quickly and was able to help the rescue party as he knew who lived where in Abbey Hills Rd. A first aid post was set up at the chapel at Nether Hey St, which was itself damaged by the blast.

        It is a sad detail about the presents and Christmas trees being among the rubble. One house had a wedding party of 12 people staying, of whom 4 were killed. A sailor on leave, Norman Travis, was among the dead at another house. The oldest to be killed was 70 year old Lucy Thornton, the youngest a six months old baby. Additionally, some 49 people were seriously injured in the attack.

        Of the buildings damaged, 18 were destroyed in Abbey Hills Rd, 9 on each side of the road. A further 91 buildings were severely damaged in the immediate area and in total some 1,100 buildings in Oldham were damaged, blast from V1s typically extending in a radius of a mile from the impact point. It is probable the construction of buildings at Abbey Hills contributed to there being fewer casualties, as each party wall had a chimney breast which strengthened the walls.

        Over Lees the missile released some propaganda* leaflets as the engine cut and it went into its dive on Abbey Hills. This detail makes me wonder about the V1 you heard in Middleton; it is possible it was the same one as hit Oldham, sometimes V1s did turn in a circle as the engine cut. But coming from the north east and passing over Lees to dive on Abbey Hills means it is unlikely it passed over Middleton first.

        However at least 2 flying bombs did pass over the Middleton area that morning. The one which came down at Worsley passed over the Blackley / Crumpsall area, while the one to fall on Radcliffe passed to the north of Middleton over Langley. Please see the overview page for photos of the sites where those two V1s came down. That page also has a soundfile of a V1 and then the engine cuts, followed by the silence you describe, before the bomb impacts.

        * Propaganda leaflet from a V1 similar to the type to be released over Lees. It was an unlikely-to-succeed attempt at determining the performance of V1s. The leaflets contained real letters from British PoWs in German camps. The idea was a civilian would pick up the leaflet, recognise the identity of the PoW, forward the leaflet to his relative whereupon they would write to their son and the Nazis would intercept it and read it – hoping that the relative had obligingly mentioned the V1 and the leaflet and where it was found!

        If you are interested, this page has a piece on the PoW camp at Oldham (which is at Lees – makes me wonder if any of the British PoW leaflets were picked up by German PoWs!)

        This part of my website has a couple more stories of bombs which fell on Oldham during the war

        • james stansfield says:

          At the time the bomb dropped I lived at 401 Roundthorn Rd near to the Dog and Partridge.I was 3 at the time.The blast blew out all our windows and my sister Christine who was 6 weeks old caught pneumonia and died.

  20. Sylvia (nee Cadd) says:

    Ian ………….. It is fascinating to read all the information that you have gathered together.

    We lived on Kingsbridge Road at that time, and I was almost 5 years old on Christmas Eve 1944.

    Whenever the sirens went, my grandparents would come across the road from their house on the corner of Kingsbridge Road and Kenton Street, and 7 of us would sit on the stairs down to the cellar in our house. This happened 2 or 3 times, I remember crying and crying and crying during one such episode because I was so scared! I think it must have been this one.

    Dad was in restricted employment, and had worked for a few months in London in 1939/1940. His landlady down there had told him to go around the house and unlock all the windows as soon as he heard sirens and before going to shelter. The theory is that this would allow the windows to move within the frame. He did this on that night, and we were the only house that did not have the glass blown out. All we had was one little tiny crack in the bottom corner of the downstairs window.

    ………….. and my abiding memory is looking out of our front room window at daylight.

    The street was covered with broken glass, and picking his way across from the open gate of my grandparents’ house was their fox terrier! They had forgotten him in the rush to get to shelter, he had jumped out of the kitchen window into the glass-strewn back yard, out through the gate which had been blown open, and over to us. He did not get even one little tiny cut on any paw!

    We went to look at the site some days later.

    As a follow-up to your comment about the POW camp in Lees …….

    ….. I went on a Counthill Grammar School ski trip to Austria over New Year 1956/7. Our ski instructor had been an inmate at the Oldham POW camp, and had very fond memories of his time there. He especially remembered a lady who used to invite the POWs to afternoon tea at her house. He did want to know whether the tennis court they had built was still in existence. I’m afraid we lied, and told him that it was!

    • Ian D B says:

      Sylvia thank you very much for adding your memories to this page. Interesting to read about opening the windows to minimise the pressure from the blast shock wave!

      Your memories are very clear. Certainly if you were 5 years old and living on Kingsbridge Road (you were very close to the impact point – just 1000 feet from it!) then what you recall was this attack. There were others on Oldham – please see elsewhere in the Air Raids and Bomb Sites set for pictures of Lilac Lane and of Castleford Street. Oldham got hit a number of times.

  21. ALAN WALKDEN. says:


    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Alan,
      Thank you for adding your very detailed memoir to this history. I have never seen an account quite like this reported anywhere either, it is unique. There is a comment in Smith where he says the wounded were “treated in a first aid post set up in the damaged Congregational chapel on Nether Hey Street” but no report of the bodies lying somewhere as you describe. It is a haunting image.

  22. ALAN WALKDEN. says:

    Thank you Ian for your reply and comments.I find your Web site very interesting and it has brought back many memories ,of my childhood in the war, I am always proud of my upbringing as a Lancashire lad.and never forget my early days in Oldham.
    In fact I put my feelings together and made a video ,It is now on You Tube..lots of people have seen it ,from all over the world. It´s called , ” OLDHAM MY DIRTY OLD TOWN”
    I have lived in Spain for many years. and have just put another Video on You Tube which may be of interest to you .You will be aware of the subject, it being in your line. It could have been the worlds biggest air crash ,casualty wise. and is a forgotten event ,played down by the American and Spanish governments .On You Tube type in …” CODE BROKEN ARROW ” and look for my name name . Thank again , ALAN WALKDEN

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks Alan. I looked at those videos, interesting to read of the B52 explosion over Spain. Also interesting to see the video of old Oldham. Mt mother’s family was from Oldham. I can just about recall my great antie’s house in what I suppose were the last of the slums cleared in the 1970s. I recall the toilet in the back yard had no flush, just a balanced plate which tipped into a pit. Not sure where in Oldham that was though, off Shaw Road I think, around Derker. She moved into what were new flats in Egerton Street. Other family members lived on Mortimer Street and for a while my uncle Amos had digs here at Abbey Hills.

  23. anthony clare says:



    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION E-MAIL: oldhamremembers@oldham.gov.uk or call 0161 770 3297

  24. David Lees says:

    Three members of my family, the Roe’s, (Edward Denton Roe, who was my grandma Eva’s brother, his wife Alice, and son Norman) were killed in their home by the Abbeyhills bomb. William Roe, their other son, was out so survived. Edward’s brother Harold was killed 8 weeks before the WWI Armistice. The rest of the family of Roe’s and Lees’s, my grand and great grand parents, lived in Savoy St. Williams daughter died in an accident much later and the Roe family died out with her. So the bomb created the end of that Roe lineage. Hannah Roe, mother of Edward and my great grandma, lived in Savoy St to be 99.

  25. David Lees says:

    I’ve just noticed mention of Hope Congregation Church for refreshments. All the Lees family attended there. The Roe’s may well have done too. The last time I went there was to my Grandparents memorial service.

  26. David Seipel says:

    I remember the V1 in Dec 1944,I was nearly five, we lived at the northern edge of Ashton u Lyne and the V1 passed over us. We heard it in the early morning as it cut out. It fell about 1.3/4 miles away. My mother saw the aftermath later in the day from the bus.
    Prison camps in the latter part of the war and just after were usually in large cotton mills. My father had been born in Germany and came to England 1930. After the war befriended a German prisoner, called Alois Gadinger, who was a young man walking along the road near us. He came to our house. He gratefully always sent a Christmas Card to my parents until the mid 1980’s.
    I have many memories of that time.
    Eventually I went to Manchester Grammar School, and one master, “Basher” Bailey, had in the war served in Scotland near his home and had arrested Rudolf Hess when he landed on his getaway flight to UK. My father was a naturalized Englishman, but his youngest brother had remained in Germany and was in the Luftwaffe with Rommel in Africa, and he is still alive. I am writing a book on all this.

    • Ian D B says:

      Great to hear from you David. Thank you for adding your very interesting memories of the war and post war period to this site, and good luck with the book!

  27. My mum was an ARP on duty in Abbey Hills Road (which is where she lived) when that V1 came down. She’s 92 and remembers quite a lot, including attending to the casualties.

  28. And regarding the PoW camp. My grandad was the insurance man who sold insurance to the camp guards. One day a “Polish” soldier turned up at my grandma’s house and scrounged a whole apple pie. Turned out to be a PoW so not Polish at all. I suppose he was recaptured as no-one is known to have escaped from the UK, I think (unless he was one who did!)

  29. David Seipel says:

    We lived off Lees Road, Ashton. Our house would have been more or less in the direction the V1 came from, if you were in Oldham, as they were launched from the North Sea. My mother went to Oldham shopping the morning after, and gave horrific descriptions of the chaos caused. I think I heard it, or it could be distorted memory from what my parents told me had happened. I was probably asleep. I do remember other bombs, and of course air raid shelters. And VE day party in the street..

  30. Dan says:

    My grandfather came from. This area. He signed up for the army under age, and lied to the recruiting officer. Was educated locally by nuns and wanted to leave. He served in various countries including Burma.

    I often asked about his family and he told me how he went home and their house was gone, flattened by a bomb and they were all killed.

    His Surname was Burns, I would appreciate any links or knowledge relating to the bombing and any families with the surname burns.

    Thank you.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Dan, I hope someone reading these pages might provide some info for you.

      What info have you already and what are you looking for? There is a book called When the lights come on again, which is all about Oldham’s war.I’d imagine there are details in there which might help?

      Or a visit to Oldham library would yield more. There was a major air raid on Oldham on 11 October 1941 in which 27 people were killed. https://aircrashsites.co.uk/air-raids-bomb-sites/then-and-now-oldham-13th-october-1941/
      It may be possible to find casualty lists from the library. Also if you can get there in person you could trawl the microfilm records of the local papers. It wouldn’t take long to find detail of every air attack in 1940 – 1941.

      Good luck with your research.


    • Sylvia (nee Cadd) says:

      Dan ……

      …… if you would give the full name of your grandfather, I can try to see if I can find information on his birth and names of his parents and possible siblings. That would help to find where he lived before he joined up, and possibly give you leads to possible connections.

  31. Chris Payne says:

    Fascinating posts. I was nearly three at the time. My earliest memories were sheltering in the cellar under our house at Fern Street, Werneth. I clearly remember my parents taking me out in my pushchair in the dark to stand outside St Thomas’s Church, the highest point around. One could see right down the hill to Manchester where it looked like the entire city was on fire. It was still dark when Abbeyhills was bombed so the time could have been right after the all clear had sounded but before the fires had been put out.

  32. Ken Hayman says:

    Ken Hayman 9 yrs old,living in Strinesdale at the time my mother woke me to see the aeroplane on fire, It was the V2 that landed in Abbey hills. Road. it came from the Direction of Huddersfield Quite low down, a flame out of the back. It then went over Waterhead and arced round towards Oldham. As I was going back to bed There was an almighty explosion and I was sent tumbling back down the stairs as the Rocket landed, the whole house Shook and pictures also fell of the walls, We were maybe a couple of miles away so you can Imagine the force of the impact. It is a Chrismas eve I won’t forget.

  33. David Seipel says:

    Pretty sure it was not a V2! It was a V1. They did not circle, simply cut engine and then fell. Dropped in early hours of 24th, my mother was shopping there in the afternoon, and came home and told us all about the horror.

    • Ian D B says:

      Yes was a V1, I daresay that was a typo. Wouldn’t have any warning with a V2!

      But V1s often did turn around in flight. The propeller on the nose of the V1 counted down to a point at which it was the predicted to be over the target. At that point the missile was put into a dive which caused the fuel to cut. As far as the Germans were concerned that was a flaw which they overcame; later versions went into a powered dive with little warning for those on the ground.

      • Ken Hayman says:

        Like your reply Ian. However,watching the rocket as it was over the reservoirs at Strinesdale that was when the engine cut out. and as it began to descend it gently did so whilest arcing to the right.i know I was only nne but I am pretty sure that was the sequence of events

  34. william cook says:

    I recently found out about this event as my Uncle Bill was there.
    My mother had just been born on 21st December 1944 and her brother who was 13 (my uncle Bill) and my nan had been evacuated from South London to Oldham. My Grandfather was serving in the Navy but was due to get some leave to be with them over the Christmas period. They were allocated a house in Abbey Mills road.
    My uncle said he was upstairs in the house with my nan and my mum downstairs on that christmas eve night when there was an almighty bang. The explosion blew some of the roofing of the house and the upstairs floor collapsed making my uncle slide down the floor and he ended up downstairs.For a while he could not hear anything because of the concussion but he remembers everything was covered in dust.He wandered around looking for his mum and eventually an air raid warden or a policeman pulled him out of the house. The whole area was littered with rubble and broken glass and then he remembered the sounds of people screaming. My nan had actually grabbed my mum and sheltered under the dining table. She too was rescued. He said that when he went back to school a few days later there were empty desks in his classroom. My uncle’s name was William Miles and he told me this only 4 weeks before he died in 2012.

    • Ian D B says:

      Excellent account William, thank you for adding it. Great that your uncle spoke with you about it. For years now I have been asking older people for their memories of the war. Need to record it while we still can.

  35. David Rhodes says:

    My father Harry Rhodes lived in Copsterhill Road a mile away his mother and brothers and sisters remember the V1 well but I always queried it because of the range of the V1 being so limited. As an aviation buff I discovered that a detachment of KG3 in Holland flew these missions in late 1944 in their Heinkel 111 h-16’s their loss rate was very high due to night fighters and the fact that the Heinkels top speed was reduced to under 200 knots by the drag of the V1.My father was in prison camp in Germany at the time having been captured in September 1944 at Arnhem where he served with 1st Batt. Border Regt.He returned to Oldham in July 1945 and was presented on stage at a local cinema as were other survivors of the battle.

  36. David Livesey says:

    I was 4 years of age and that V1 is my earliest memory, I remember the noise as if it happened yesterday and it was even louder when it stopped suddenly, seemingly right overhead. We did not hear the explosion because we were in Linthwaite, 8 miles from Huddersfield at the bottom of the Pennines, but we were told it had landed in Diggle.
    My next retained memory was of the illuminated tram going down Manchester Road on VE day.
    David Livesey.Queensland,Australia.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi David thanks for visiting and adding your memories. Not surprised it made an impression, it was a shocking event; at this stage of the war, the people in the north of England believed there would be no more bombs. No V1s fell at Diggle but one did fall on Oldham.

  37. Ian Garbutt says:

    Just came across this. My grandfather, Alfred Newton, was an air raid warden. Although he lived at 13, Fernlea Avenue in Chadderton, he was one of the Platt workers who went over to the V1 impact sites to help, only to discover two co-worker friends who were victims.
    I was only 6 months old at the time – it was not until 1961 that he finally was able to talk about that event and I was privileged to be there to hear that.
    Ian Garbutt, born 7/18/1944 at Boundary Park Hospital.
    Camas, Washington State, USA.

  38. Claire James says:

    My great Nan and Great Granddad lived in the within that row of houses I think? Will need to check my notes on my phone when its charged.
    Their names were Florence and Percy Hilton. Florence was sadly killed during this bombing along with my Granddad ‘ken’ favourite dog.
    Be greatful if anyone new of them?

  39. Ken Hayman says:

    Hi just reading. This report of V1.i lived at Strinesdale then 9 yrs old , was woken up to see the airplane on fire it came over Bishops park around the reservoirs went behind the hill towards town I was going back upstairs when it landed, the house shook pictures fell of the walls , I fell back down the stairs, (unhurt) we lived about three miles away as the crow flies with the hill between us, went down to chalk family who lived in Glodwick Scary times

  40. Heather Crossdale says:

    My family lived in Chesterfield when the V1 bombed Oldham on Christmas Eve 1944. The wedding was my Aunt Ethel but we didn’t go to the wedding because my mum was 6 months pregnant. On Christmas morning the police came to tell my dad about the tragedy but he couldn’t go as there were no trains on Christmas Day so he spent a lot of time in the local phone booth. My cousin David Kirkland ages 14 and another cousin Hilllary Hardwick aged 4 were both killed and my grandma and aunt were seriously injured.
    The graves of David and Hillary are in St Bartholomews churchyard in Old Whittington Chesterfield.

    • GILLIAN LEDDY says:

      Hi my name is gillian my mum is doreen highland my grandmother was hilda Kirkland. Ethel was my grandads sister. My grandmother was buried in the rubble but survived. Some of our family names are shown on the cenotaph outside Oldham church at Christmas my mum unveiled the plaque on abbeyhills road

  41. Ian D B says:

    Email from Christine S;

    I have come across your site when looking for detail because of my Mother’s experience.

    She was living with her parents on Stockport Road, Mossley which is the last house of 1930s houses not far over the hill from the road from Greenfield to Oldham. I think Oldham is 2or3 miles distant via Lees.

    She and my Grandfather were awakened (I always thought by the sound of the V1 coming nearer as she never mentioned a siren) and lay on the ground outside the kitchen/side door as it passed very low. My mother said it cut out. It must have been terrifying. A friend who worked in Oldham as she did, died as a result of the attack but it was believed that it was of shock because she was diabetic.

    My Grandad decided not to wake my Granny who was deaf resulting from Rheumatic Fever at the age of 18 and consequently slept through the drama!


  42. Roger Millington says:

    Further to my post of 2015, about my mum, Audrey Bradley who lived in 228 Abbey Hills Rd with her younger sister Fay and mother Alice and father James. She was on duty as an ARP that night and I recently found out that she was the first on the scene (of the rescue workers). Looking at the photographs, I wondered if she might be the only female in sight but the resolution is too poor to tell. I can’t ask her as she passed away in 2016. Her sister has told me that, when the rocket was heard, she was told by her father to hide under a sink. She recalled my mum going out on duty beforehand. My mum recalled finding one neighbour who appeared to have no outward injuries, so must have suffered fatal blast injuries.

  43. nick goth says:

    Hi again Ian i used to live down off Warren Lane on Perivale Drive. I never knew there were shrapnel damage to the older buildings? Did you see which parts? I used to work in Park Cakes bakery in the 90s and a guy there was a kid when this V1 fell. He had some bits of it but they were binned after the war. A shame. I wonder if any bits remain in the gardens?

    I was in England in September 18. Went to Mustang crash at the farm but nothing remains. Also to Close Moss Barracuda, Winter Hill Wayfarer crash area, looked for Tigermoth on Chew but couldn’t find it, same with Broken Ground/Iron Tongue Hill Liberator. Saw the burnt moor area up there and also on Winter Hill. Just terrible.

    Here in the Philippines i went to Bamban ww2 war museum. The owner Rhonie took me to Jap base on Clark Field where 3 Hellcat planes were shot down. Pilots died 1 executed in his cockpit. No wreckage is visible as farmland or built on.

    Love your photos btw.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Nick, next time you are in the UK, give me a shout. I know magpies have been lifting stuff and those sites you mention had only fragments but there should be something. If it comes to it, will sweep the areas with a metal detector.
      But the Mustang site, for example, has some fragments near the wall. Sorry you went all that way and never found anything! So yeah, do give me a shout next time.

    • Ian D B says:

      Re; Oldham V1, the buildings next to the new ones have some damage visible to the masonary, can’t recall what exactly. But in big towns and cities, walking along the streets I am always looking up at old buildings for signs of bomb damage.
      I found a bit of V1 shrapnel at a site on the moors, there’s a photo of it on here. I left it where it was, of course.

  44. stuart says:

    Ive been around the backin s of Abbey hills road and when it rains the puddles are red.
    This could be red brick dust which penetrates through even after all these years.
    Quite poignant i think.
    Ive never noticed it anywhere else.

  45. Michael Eyre says:

    My daughter is studying the effects of these events on the community it affected. Strangely my grandma and grandad lived in 12 Skipton st , George and Rita Eyre.the house was severely damaged , they where in bed at the time and it fell through the floor into the front room. Both survived and remained in that house until they passed. They had kept the newspaper article from the next day and we still have it.

  46. Christine CHADDERTON says:

    My mom told me that my grandma( we lived in Hollinwood) broke her arm on christmas eve 1944 and that she was with her in casualty at Oldham royal when they brought the wounded in. Also I was born in 1947 . I played in an area adjacent to the Scala movie place which I always thought was a bomb site. It was completely full of bricks etc . Did a bomb fall here I wonder.

  47. Claire says:

    My great nan and granddad lived in abbey hill, my great nan ‘Florence Hilton’ sadly night on this horrendous night! She fled to the basement, if she had stayed in bed with my great granddad Percy… she may have survived? As the beam fell sheltering the bed either side of rubble. I’d love to find out more bout them x

  48. Carl Simpson says:

    I hope there will be some sort of rememberance for the loss of life at Abbey hills rd as it’s 75 years this year i live about 5 minutes from the spot and always look at it whenever i pass the spot.

  49. Bob Dennell says:

    I was 7 years old. We lived at 288 Waterloo Street, just under one third of a mile away. I recall the very loud “whummph” that woke me up (it must have been early morning) and my father and mother scurrying around trying to figure out what had happened. Later on I walked down Abbeyhills Road – kids had total freedom to wander all over the countryside in those days – and I overheard adults talking about ‘digging for bodies’. The bomb had destroyed houses on the northern side of the road but the blast had severely damaged houses on the other side where one of my schoolmates lived and he survived. I can’t remember his name but he lived on the tale for weeks. His bedroom had been on the south side of the house. He claimed he had woken up in the back yard.
    My parents offered accommodation to any of the bombed out families but they were all well looked after. My only concern was if any strange children were to live with us, where would I hide my Christmas toys? Such are the priorities of seven-year-olds!

    • Ian D B says:

      Amazing memories Bob! Thanks for adding them here.

    • Roger says:

      Interesting to still read personal accounts of this attack. My mother Audrey Bradley was the duty ARP first on the scene. I wouldn’t repeat the detail online but you can imagine it was horrific, coming across people she knew. She lived on Abbeyhills road and heard the loud noise approach then stop but knew from training what to expect. My grandad hid under the bathroom sink.

      • Ian D B says:

        Thanks Roger. Impossible to imagine the horrific things ARP wardens etc saw. Not just the death and injury, but it happening to people they knew… and knowing it could be them or their families next.

        • David Seipel says:

          I was 5 1/2 and remember being woken. We lived on the edge of Ashton, Lees Rd, about a couple of miles from the bombsite. My mother had gone to Oldham on the bus to shop, and described the horror of the site the day after, with a bath hanging out of a house.

  50. George West says:

    Ilived at 227, shaw road, opposite the large co-op store.
    I was 6yrs old.
    I remember my mother and grandmother, picked my out of bed
    and took me downstairs, and put me under the dining table.
    The sound of the V1 was quite loud, and when it stop the sound
    mum and gran held their breath. The sound stopped and it was
    dull explosion.
    When I was alot older, I often thought they might have been towards, the railway sidings, which was about half a mile away.

  51. David Seipel says:

    Re various comments from readers who lived in Oldham.
    The V1 was launched from Heinkel bombers over the North Sea, and thus approached Oldham Abbey Hills from the East. The rocket motor would have cut out around Hartshead Pike, after which the trajectory was to fall rapidly (there were no wings to allow a glide). We lived north of Ashton, up Lees Rd, I was asleep but my parents told me of the terror, and mother went to see the bomb site. It is unlikely the rocket was heard in the centre of Oldham.

  52. Richard L Grady says:

    I’ve always been brought up with stories about this from my elderly Mother. She lived on there as a little girl. And just narrowly missed out on all my family been wiped out, and thus preventing my existence.

  53. Allan Cheetham says:

    Looking back I recall one event of that day very clearly
    We heard the doodlebug and my Dad said “As long as you can hear it then it is going over us” — then it cut out!
    We all lay on the floor and learned later that it hit AbeyHills Road I was nearly ten at the time bit I still remember it.
    Looked up this website to convince people I know from London that we did have a V-1 rocket attack on Manchester even though it is out of range for the usual V-1 launch site.
    So they were launched from bombers over the north sea! What a superb feat of engineering.

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  1. […] the Germans and were aimed at Manchester. Many of the missiles landed harmlessly; the worst was in Oldham where 27 people were killed. The end of 1944 found the British, Canadians and Americans retake all […]

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