Bradford children were evacuated to Nelson in Lancashire or to other
West Riding towns like Mirfield and Harrogate. For the Jewish children
arriving at a Manningham hostel in 1939, Bradford was itself a place
realities of war were brought home to one Huddersfield schoolboy
when sleeping soldiers, evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk in
1940, had to be carried into houses in Trinity Street. Following
the German occupation of the Channel Islands there were also refugees
West Riding people, seeing or hearing the Blitz on Sheffield in
December 1941, must have wondered if their turn would be next. On
that night, five people died when bombs fell on a house in Dewsbury
and at Shaw Cross Colliery in Batley.
August 1940 and summer 1941, various parts of the county experienced
bombing incidents. A single bomb in Hanson Lane, Halifax on 22 November
killed 11 people. Six died and many houses were destroyed when two
large bombs fell on Thornes Road, Wakefield, on 14 March.
Bradford, most damage was done on the night of 31 August 31 1940,
when 120 high explosive bombs fell on the city. Lingards department
store was destroyed, and 10,000 windows shattered. Although 100
people were injured there was only one fatality. Luckily the audience
had just left the Odeon cinema when a bomb landed in the stalls.
Another bomb in Tyrrel Street just missed people waiting for a tram.
most serious incident happened not as a result of enemy action but
because of a smouldering pipe left in a pocket, which caused a fire
that destroyed Booths Mill in Huddersfield in October 1941.
A memorial in Edgerton Cemetery marks the grave of 44 of the 49
workers, mostly women and girls, who died in the blaze.
were also lost through planes crashing into houses. Four people
were killed when a German bomber hit a row of cottages in Idle,
five died when their home in Darrington was destroyed by an RAF
plane, and in 1944 a plane with a local pilot crashed in Central
Avenue, Fartown, killing four.
countys looms were working at full capacity making cloth for
uniforms or other war purposes - Listers giant mill in Manningham
made material for parachutes. In Meltham, David Browns was
for a time the sole manufacturer of Spitfire gears. Broadbents
in Huddersfield made midget submarines and Jowetts in Bradford
expanded its factory four-fold, many of the new workforce being
AVRO factory in Yeadon offered what was sometimes considered glamorous
factory work - building bombers for the war effort. But not all
war work was glamorous. At the ICI factory, workers were sometimes
accidentally gassed while manufacturing chemicals, and had to be
taken to moors above the Colne Valley until they recovered.
in ten of those conscripted were sent down the pit and like Jimmy
Savile, who worked at South Kirby, became Bevin Boys. Essential
war production of another kind was carried on in Holmfirth, where
Bamforths boosted morale by adapting their saucy seaside postcards
to wartime themes.
those in the armed forces, war meant travel. Those at home waited
and worried. One woman recalls children in the playground with eyes
red from crying, their fathers reported missing. The regimental
chapel in Halifax Parish Church is dedicated to the 1,200 soldiers
from the local Duke of Wellingtons Regiment who lost their
dead are also commemorated in war memorials and by the many military
graves in the countys churchyards. On the moors above Holmfirth,
aircraft wrecks can still be found while above Ripponden the remains
of a decoy bombing target can be seen.
Day meant street parties and specially decorated buses, quickly
followed by the closure of factory nurseries as women were laid
off. When Churchill visited Huddersfield during the election campaign
of June 1945, thousands turned out. But attitudes were changing.
Churchill was about to lose the election. One woman in the crowd
perhaps summed up the popular feeling when she remarked: He
hasnt had to queue for potatoes.
exhibition can be found at the Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding)
Regimental Museum at Bankfield Museum in Halifax, although most
of West Yorkshires museums do include artefacts relating to
World War Two.
Most of the countys main library services have extensive photographic
collections showing how the area appeared in the 1940s, and copies
of local papers.
Bradford Industrial Museum houses the Bradford Heritage Recording
Unit while the Kirklees Sound Archive, together with the Bamforth
Postcard Collection, is available in Huddersfield Local History
Library. Original papers from both organisations and individuals
can be found at the district offices of the West Yorkshire Archives
Second World War Experience Centre in Leeds aims to collect, document,
preserve, exhibit and encourage access to the surviving material
evidence and associated information of the men and women who participated
in the war in whatever capacity whether military, civilian or conscientious
was your area of West Yorkshire affected during World War Two?
Do you have any stories that have been passed down through your
family? Share your stories from Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees
and Calderdale using the form below.