The night that the bombs flattened Punch Street in 1941 was a Sunday. I remember this distinctly because a friend of mine was killed in that raid. Her name was Ruth Whalley. She had a beautiful voice and had sung a solo in church at the six o’clock evening service.
Our house had a cellar, which we went into whenever there was a raid. On this particular night we didn’t get very much warning. No sooner had the sirens sounded when the bombs dropped. We lived two streets away and the noise it made was frightening. It blew out all our windows. Everything was covered in soot from the chimney and we were in total darkness as all the power had been cut off. Everyone said afterwards that they thought they were aiming for the gasworks on Spa Road which were only a few streets away from where we lived. Lucky for us they missed.
After my Dad had made sure we were all right at home he dashed down to Punch Street to help rescue those who were trapped or injured. I remember when he went out he had a white shirt on. When he came back it was anything but white. He did manage to rescue two people who were trapped in their beds and I felt quite proud of what he had done.
In the morning all the children who lived round about went down to where the bomb had fallen to see what was going on. There was a hole as big as a crater and in the middle of the hole was part of a boiler from the engine room of the factory near by which had been flung from the mill with the force of the blast. Then we all started to look for shrapnel to see who could find the largest piece. I only managed to find a small piece but I was amazed at how thick and heavy it was. That day we all had a day off school.
The next street to where we lived was Noble Street where there was an Independent Methodist Church. They were kind enough to open the doors of their Sunday School for the emergency services to use so that they could prepare hot dinners for the people who had no power to cook anything. You could sit in or take your meal home. These were served in small cartons so my sister and I decided to take ours home. My Mother and Dad didn’t go for any. Their only concern was for the two of us to get a hot meal. I can’t remember what the savoury was, all I know is I enjoyed my sweet of sponge pudding and custard.
How long before the power was put back on I couldn’t say - being a very young girl that was something I didn’t think about - but it must have been a great worry to my parents.
Edith Kay née Hayston
The one I remember the bombs dropping was at night, when it dropped on Punch Street. We were in our air raid shelter, at home, and there was an enormous bang, and my Auntie used to come down and stay with us when there was an air raid on because she was expecting her first baby, and so she used to come and stay with my Mother, you see. And I can remember it really startled her and she fell off the step ladder near the... you know, we used to go down a couple of steps, you see and she used to sit there and she were always a very jolly person and when that bomb dropped she just fell off (laughs) you know! And she always used to remember it by ‘That were when I fell off the ladder' sort of thing. (laughs) But, it was, very...very frightening, very loud, we thought it was in our street, we didn't realize it was further down Deane Road, you see, because it's about half a mile away, Punch Street, if that, I'm not quite sure now.
The man next door to us, was the Air Raid Warden, he'd come running round, to make sure we were all right, when the bomb dropped and he checked on us, and then went further along, making sure that everybody was ok, because he didn't know where it had dropped, you see.
During that time, on our off duty, we used to go to the pictures and things like that, and I was in the Odeon when that bomb came down. Oh it was terribly frightening. First of all the manager came on the platform of the Odeon and said ‘we've got a Yellow Warning' and then it became a Red Warning and he said ‘Just stand where you are' and we all stood up, and stood there and you could hear the bomb coming down. I've never been as frightened in my life, just went schoooooo! And it hit next door. And that was where all spirits of liquor were stored in a big warehouse, so it was a big fire. (laughs) So, I was with a friend, we were going on duty at ten o'clock at the Fire Station, so we went out and went there immediately. That was most exciting.