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Do You Remember, Bradford Air-Raid May 1941

by Madeleine Wainman

Contributed by 
Madeleine Wainman
People in story: 
Maddy Wainman
Location of story: 
Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
10 November 2003

You remember the night of 5th May, 1941 a German plane on fire over the city of Bradford?

Although I was only four years old I vividly remember the wail of the air raid siren breaking the silence of that night, and our father collecting us from our beds. Sleepy and uncooperative he gathered three of us in his arms, and headed downstairs to the Anderson shelter, which was situated at the bottom of the garden. All the while my Mother was quietly panicking saying “Hurry Peter, hurry”. She was carrying my youngest Bother Paul, who was only weeks old at the time.

As my Parents hurried towards the back door they collected a large bag containing blankets and cushions. My Father safely delivered us to the shelter, but he never stayed inside himself. He would patrol back and forth to the house all the time we were in the shelter. Between patrols and talking to the neighbours he would make cups of tea and bring us food.

Our house was about two and a half miles from the center of Bradford and offered good views of the city skyline. Any activity in the sky would result in a running commentary from my Father as he stood outside the shelter. My Mother I remember always fearing the worst would constantly shout at my Father, trying to persuade him to come inside.

For years now I have recalled my Father talking about the German airplane that had been hit and was on fire that night. He and some of the neighbours had watched the aircraft struggle to remain airborne, and finally the pilot bailing out. As they watched the German pilot drifted slowly down towards the fields close to our house in Wrose. My Father and other men ran to the field where the pilot was landing. The German apparently just happy to have survived the shooting-down simply walked towards his captors with his hands in the air and surrendered. Unfortunately the airplane crashed in to a row of cottages killing a Mother and two children.

I had always assumed the aircraft was a single-seater fighter like the Messerschmitt ME 109, as my Father only mentioned the one German who landed close to our house. Later when I researched the story I discovered that the airplane was actually a Junkers Ju 88 A1 (Jumo 211), a long range bomber with a crew of four. As I looked at a picture of the aircraft I realized that it was quite large with a wingspan of 59’, length 46’ and a height of 15’. The other member of the crew had bailed also and where captured in other parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The airplane landed on four cottages in High Street, Idle demolishing two and badly damaging the others. Three people were killed and five other seriously injured.

Although Bradford was never a priority target for the Germans it did suffer four air-raids between August 1940 and March 1941. Personally I will never forget the night the Germans came to Bradford.

Maddy Wainman

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The Blitz Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
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