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Sheffield In The Blitz

by actiondesksheffield

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Archive List > The Blitz

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Dorothy Newton, Percy Newton.
Location of story: 
Pitsmoor, Sheffield.
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
12 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Dorothy Newton, and has been added to the site with the her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

This is a story about civilian life.

I got married in 1938 at the age of 25. Before my marriage I had worked for 10 years as a clerk at the Sheffield Insurance Committee (SIC). I dealt with issuing various documents including Medical Cards.

In those days women had to give up their jobs as soon as they got married. We settled into married life in Melrose Road in Pitsmoor. A year later the war began. My husband Percy was in a reserved occupation. He was a Turner and made nuts, bolts and screws. He was very skilled and later when the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet was being developed, he was asked to make some of the nuts and bolts. He was able to make the look much older by “distressing” them.

In addition to his job, Percy was in the Home Guard. He manned the Gun Site at Shirecliffe and although they had some practises the Gun was never used. He also
went on Fire Watch almost every evening.
Meanwhile I was at home. The instruction came out that you either had to go back to work, or have a WAAF billeted at the house. We had several young WAAFs. None of them was with us for very long.

In 1940 I was contacted by the S.I.C. So many men had gone to war that they were very short of experienced staff. I stayed until my first child Roger, was born in
1942. Our house on Melrose Road had a long back garden which ran down to the edge of
Burngreave Cemetery. Percy made a shelter at the back of the house. I will never forget the night of the Sheffield Blitz. We were in the Shelter when suddenly, there was a terrific noise and the door of the shelter blew off. We saw a huge sheet of flame. It was Burngreave church; it was completely destroyed that night.

The next day we found out that a bomb had dropped in the entrance to the cemetery. We all went down to have a look. There was a huge crater and in the middle was the bomb. As soon as we saw it we knew it was still live. We got away from it, but even then, we did not really understand the danger. Later that day I walked over to see my parents who lived in Talbot Street in Norfolk Park. On the way I was shocked to see the damage on The Wicker. There was so much destruction. It was a dreadful mess and goods from many of the shops were strewn all over the road. The tram-lines were lumps of twisted metal. The worst damage was done by the incendiaries rather than the ordinary bombs. There was a huge amount of fire damage. I saw John Walsh’s which was a very posh shop, where TJ Hughes is now, completely ablaze.

Immediately after the blitz the main problem was the lack of electricity and water. A stand pipe was erected in Burngreave Cemetery and for the next three or four weeks we had to collect all the water we needed in buckets and pans. But everyone helped each other.

My special memory of that time is of the deep camaraderie of the people. The tragedy seemed to make everyone really want to pull together.

Mrs Newton June 2005


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