F. Cruikshank, 82, from Wavertree has sent in his memories of the
Air Raids in Liverpool from the Second World War. They were e-mailed
to us by his daughter.
first experience of the blitz was Christmas 1940.
They came over on Dec 22nd at about 8p.m. and hammered Liverpool
had just come home from the army in Northern Ireland, where it had
been peaceful as regards air raids and Mum sent me out to the brick
air raid shelter, which had been built on our back yard. (I lived
in Wyatt street Liverpool 4, then) I was crouched there, quite terrified,
listening to the "crump" of the bombs and the noise of the ack ack
guns, as they fired at the aircraft in a token show of defiance.
Suddenly, the shelter seemed to lift off, and we heard a sudden
"whoosh" of air. We knew a bomb had dropped close by.
Next morning we found that a school and a church in the next road
had suffered a direct hit.
I had lost a couple of friends who had been fire watching on the
I was devastated.
his house should have been there was nothing but crumbled
saw a pair of shoes sticking out, which I knew were his.
then and May 1941, we had sporadic raids.
But then Hitler and Goering decided to go for the jugular vein.
Liverpool was the main gateway for food supplies etc. and also housed
Western Approaches Personnel, who were responsible for planning
our naval warfare, we experienced a week of hell that was quite
horrible and tragic.
the night of May 3rd, 1941, I had, ironically, been to see a film
called "Torrid Zone" with James Cagney. I came home and went to
At about 11.30p.m. the Air Raid warning siren went. I dressed and
went to St. John's Church, Fountains Road, where I was on Fire Watch
night became a nightmare of droning bombers, exploding bombs and
gunfire. Searchlights probed the sky. We were terrified.
about 2a.m. some incendiary bombs dropped in the Church, but with
a combination of sand and stirrup pump, we managed to douse them,
before too much damage was done.
5a.m. I decided to see how my brother and his family, who lived
nearby, were faring. I picked my way cautiously through lots of
debris and rubble, until I came to his street, where I was met by
an eerie silence.
Where his house should have been there was nothing but crumbled
I saw a pair of shoes sticking out, which I knew were his.
I staggered over to Stanley hospital to try and get some news and
was met by a heart rending sight. Injured and dying people were
everywhere. No beds or stretchers were left, so many lay on doors.
the shelter seemed to lift off, and we heard a sudden "whoosh"
knew a bomb had dropped close by.
from St John's was giving the Last Rites, and offering what comfort
he could. Father Park made enquiries for me, but the news was not
good. My brother was indeed dead, and also his 8year old son. His
wife and other children were injured, but would recover.
I stumbled out and made my way home, through the continuous bombing
and parachute mines dropping slowly. I could see planes swooping
low and firing at the searchlights to put them out of action. I
got home eventually by a very roundabout route, as my own street
had been bombed , causing much loss of life.
my family was safe, but the house was much damaged. However, my
other brother's wife had also been killed, he was away in the navy.
My mother shed bitter tears for her son, but made her way through
the devestation, to the hospital to see for herself.
Sunday May 4th, I was serving 11a.m. Mass, when an unexploded bomb
went off outside. Such was the state of peoples nerves', that everyone
screamed and made to run out.
The young Priest saying Mass turned round on th Altar and roared
"Stay where you are! Nothing can harm you. You are in God's
That Priest quelled a panic.
The Parish Priest came back to the Presbytery, heartbroken by what
he had seen, and collapsed and died saying,
"Thank God St.John's was spared. Pray for the Vicar of St.
Ath's whose Church has been destroyed."
That Sunday was terrible. At the nearby railway siding an ammunition
train had been hit and all day long the sound of explosions echoed,
houses shook and in a radio shop, acid accumulators exploded and
fires burned fiercely all around.
was a marvellous side effect to all the suffering however.
were helping each other to patch up their homes , sharing food and
The grim task of digging up bodies out of the ruins went on all day,
with all the men helping the official reserve workers and every
now and then calling for complete silence whilst they strove to
pin point exactly where an injured person was buried.
Those nights of bombing and death of loved ones, had clearly affected
peoples' morale, and so it became a normal sight to see lorries
and carts, full of people and belongings, making their way along
Walton Road, out to the countryside of Fazackerly and Aintree. There
they were prepared to sleep in the fields rather than face the horrors
of more bombings. They had taken so much, physically, psychologically
night became a nightmare of droning bombers, exploding bombs
and gunfire. Searchlights probed the sky.
ironic thing about these heavy raids is that the next morning on
the radio the announcer would laconically mention that there had
been "some penetration of our defences by enemy aircraft causing
some damage and a few casualties" when in fact there had
been enormous injuries, loss of life and much devestation of property.
centre of Liverpool alone had been completely razed, from the Pierhead
right down to Whitechapel and fires everywhere were burning for
a week afterwards.
I suppose the communiques had to be misleading, so as not to give
the enemy too much to gloat about. But the fact remains that the
traumatised people of Liverpool were dangerously near to capitulation.
After that terrible week, life managed to go on amidst all the patching
up. People were to be admired for the way they managed to get to
work, often walking when there was no transport.
of transport, my Dad was a tram driver. He experienced a very sad
event during this time, which had a deep effect on him. Whenever
he was driving his tram during a raid he always tried to drop his
passengers off at a convenient air raid shelter before driving back
to the depot. One particularly bad raid that week, he dropped them
off at a shelter underneath a school. The next morning he heard
that this school had taken a direct hit and everyone had perished,
about 200. Many had been scalded when pipes burst.
My Dad was devastated.
Later on they had to brick the place up and leave the bodies entombed.
where you are! Nothing can harm you. You are in God's House!"
Priest quelled a panic.
as the months passed, the raids died away. Hitler turned his attention
to London and the South, sending over murderous flying bombs that
were pilotless and would drop anywhere, causing awful damage and
death.Fortunately their range did not extend to Liverpool and so,
gradually we were able to lick our wounds and try to re-order our
we were able to mount a second front and invade France, gaining
victory over Hitler. But to this day I will never ever forget the
great personal sorrow and the human tragedy that the people of Liverpool
endured to make that victory possible.
other memories of the Blitz in Liverpool:
was more afraid of a mouse than I was of the raids!"