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15 October 2014
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Barrow In Furness 'Blitz' 1941

by BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers

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Contributed by 
BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers
People in story: 
Mrs Margaret Ellison (nee Dandy)
Location of story: 
Barrow In Furness, Cumbria
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 September 2005

I was 22 years old working at the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel in Abbey Road in Barrow in Furness (now the Dukes Hotel) in 1941 and living on the premises.

The first inkling of Barrow's Bombing was 2 blocks away from us when the Trevelian Hotel on the corner recieved a direct hit and was demolished, also streets in the vicinity. We felt the impact in our hotel at 2am and went to the shelter of the cellar which was prepared for long stays.

One week later on duty at 10pm, the sirens sounded and all the staff and guests went into the cellars. Residents included ENSA Party from London entertaining at Vickers Armstrongs. Officers from the aircraft carrier the Illustrious (which the German bombers were targeting) and Polish Airforce personel on weekend leave from Millom. The bombs started dropping around us, the building was shaking, ARP Wardens coming in to see if we were ok.

It went on all night. At dawn, the all clear went, we only had two casualties who did not come down to shelter.
When we arrived upstairs at 6am, the place was a shambles. Not a window or door in the hotel. Every room and bar blitzed.
Next door Cookes Furniture Shop and Winders Store were flattened with two killed in each place. Across the road, all with direct hits were the Railway Station, the Baptist Church (the Vicar and the Firewatcher killed), the public baths and the Waverley Hotel all devastated. Other parts of Barrow did not escape, I could not go to my home on Walney Island as there were unexploded bombs under the high-level bridge by Vickers Armstrongs and under Walney Bridge (Jubilee), the only way home. Vickers workmen could not go to work because the bridge was closed.

After being bombed out a second time from the Duke I was called up to work in Vickers on munitions. I was drilling aeroplane wings, I had two brothers in the Airforce.
Bombs were still bombarding the area. Buses were running out of Barrow at nights to the Coast Road free for children and the elderly who wanted nights of rest. In Vickers holidays, I went to London for a wedding and the Buzz Bombs (flying) were going over the city. We stayed at the Imperial Hotel, Russell Square and that night we heard a bomb drop that shook the hotel, it was a Buzz Bomb dropped on Tottenham court road, we had the impact.

In August 1945 I was on holiday in London and on the Tuesday night, the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagaski and the war with Japan was over.
The next day, VJ Day, there were victory parades in the city and London celebrated.
The war was declared officially over by King George and Queen Elizabeth when they opened Parliment.

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