- Contributed by
- Hull City Libraries
- People in story:
- Urania Cawkwell
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 04 June 2004
This is the story of Urania Cawkwell born in the year 1917 who married Frederick Horace Oxbury born in the year 1912. Frederick was sent by the army to Madagascar, South Africa, Egypt, Sicily and then Italy from 1941 until 1945 leaving Urania at home with their daughter.
At the time they lived at South Avenue, Londesboro St in the City of Hull. This address was very near (approximately 30ft) from the main railway line from Hull to the rest of the country, also close to the city centre. As Hull was one of the main targets for the German Luftwaffe, there was always a danger from the bombs so Urania usually went to the air raid shelter with her daughter and niece Eva Littlewood who was at the time staying with them. But like a lot of people, she sometimes ignored the safety of the shelter because it was inconvenient.
On the night of 18th March 1941 before putting their daughter aged 3 years old also called Urania to bed, Urania snr. decided to move the bed away from the window as it was a very cold night and like a lot of homes at that time they were very draughty. This move proved to be a very good decision. During the night, the German Luftwaffe made a call and aimed for the railway lines dropping their bombs from the height of many thousands of feet with the intention of disrupting the transport of goods to and from the Hull docks. At some point in the raid, a bomb dropped on the roof of number 8 South Ave passing through the roof then into the bedroom and down to the kitchen, finally coming to rest in the ground below the house. Fortunately it came to rest without exploding. The bed had been in the direct line of the bomb near the window until Urania had thoughtfully moved it to keep her daughter free from the cold air which came through the windows.
The Germans claimed that "Strong formations of the German air force" had bombed a legitimate military target - supplies, machinery and the transport used for moving those materials. It was achieved "with High Explosives and fire bombs of all calibre", although very little damage was done to anything other than civilian homes and businesses. The Hull Daily Mail on 22 March 1941 printed a short piece in the paper to this effect and that only one plane did not return to Germany.
Eva, the niece, returned home to her parents' home on North Hull Estate, and Urania and her daughter were evacuated to 73 Lomond Rd in the west of the city. The pair however were on the 1 April 1941 evacuated again, this time to Hopwood St in the Beverley Road area, the home of Mr T Cawkwell, Urania's father. Later they returned to a house in South Avenue, number 4, only to be evacuated again on the 29 December 1941. This time they went to Moorends, a small village near Thorne, Doncaster to stay with a Mrs Snook and her family at 23 South Road.
The pair remained at this address for some time. During her stay Urania was working at a local farm factory. They returned to Hull to a small house at Masons Terrace, Wellington Lane, off Beverley Road where a second son was born. They moved again in 1951 to Bilton Grange Estate, a brand new housing development in the east of the city. The family had survived three evacuations after being bombed out of their homes and been split up from each other for nearly 5 years.
By this time, the family consisted of 2 sons and one daughter all of whom lived happily together until the children married and moved out. Urania snr. lived until she was 74 years old surviving her husband Frederick by 10 years.
Counting all the children there are 17 people who would not have been born if the bomb that had passed through the house had exploded, and how many generations after that?
A number of years before her death, Urania told her son Frederick jnr. about the bomb and insisted he inform the council. The council were in the process of demolishing the area to build factory units, as the bomb was still under the site. This was done.
My own research and help from the staff at the Hull City Archive and Local Studies Library has confirmed all addresses and dates.
This story was put on the site by Fred Oxbury, with the help of Jenny Newby of Hull City Libraries
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