West Riding Under Air Raids
A Review of the Summer
October is here and a new phase of the war is generally expected. What form it will take must be largely a matter for speculation, and while we wait for events to disclose the enemy’s intentions much encouragement may be drawn from a review of his achievements in the air.
What have the Luftwaffe accomplished in Yorkshire and other parts of the North-East during the summer months of raiding?
Have they laid a trail of ruin and devastation; have the county’s great industrial resources been impaired or has the military machine been damaged and its effectiveness reduced?
Military damage is negligible, and it’s extent would not cause even the least experienced commander a moment’s concern.
In the industrial field the same encouraging story is told. The huge aggregations of workshops and factories, the steel mills and mines, continue to provide. In growing quantities, the materials and weapons of war. Damage sustained by Industry is so small that its functions are unweakened.
The quickening of the nation’s war effort which followed Dunkirk has continued without abatement. Frequent air raids over Yorkshire have failed not only to cause direct damage to plant but also to reduce output appreciably through lost time. Workers and managements have met the threat of aerial bombardment with spirit and resolution and the German air war was no more successful in the Industrial field than in its military objectives.
The county’s greatest sufferers have been the occupiers of modest homes whose houses have been wrecked and their possessions destroyed. A number of shops and business premises have also been affected but the number of dwelling houses and commercial buildings destroyed is insignificant when compared with the targets available.
Leeds and Bradford
The case of Leeds is not dissimilar from that of other West Riding towns. one raid in which several persons were killed and few injured, the only damage done was to working class property, a public-house and a church and school. The slum clearance area in which the bombs fell merely assisted the demolition efforts of the local authority.
Another raid on the city resulted in house and shop property being affected. Another church and school were slightly damaged, and an inn partially wrecked. Service in the church was held on the morrow, and within ten days the Inn premises were again habitable and business proceeded on a normal basis. The only other damage sustained was by a warehouse, and this did not impede the handling goods.
Luftwaffe visitations to Bradford resulted in two killed and several persons injured. A store, market and a chapel were burned out, a cinema partially destroyed by fire, a church was severely damaged.
Some houses were wrecked and windows were broken. This catalogue discloses that material damage though extensive, was neither industrially nor militarily important, and the casualties Inflicted were few.
It is the same story in other centres. Sheffield, whose importance to the nation’s war effort Is well known to the Nazis, continues its vital activities with undiminished vigour and with no restriction of its resources. Property near the centre of the city has been damaged and a few fatal casualties inflicted upon harmless citizens.
The Tlnsley and Intake districts were also affected. Here one workman was killed and six injured, the other fatal casualty being a woman whose home sustained a direct hit. Most of the damage was confined to private property of the dwelling-house class.
Wakefield and Elsewhere
When high explosive and incendiary bombs fell on Wakefield, there were no casualties. Fires were quickly subdued. In another visitation three persons were killed and a few injured by missiles which fell on house property.
From Wetherby, Arthington, Huddersfield, Denaby Main, Mexborough, Hemsworth and Castleford reports indicate that damage was negligible. There were no fatal casualties and injuries were very few. High explosive bombs and incendiaries failed to cause any serious casualties at Pudsey. Stanningley, Sklpton, Bolton Abbey, Bilton. Knaresborough and Darley. There were small fires affecting houses but no industrial damage.
A time bomb which exploded at Ackworth while the area was being roped off caused seven deaths among wardens and Home Guards. The moors, woods and fields of the West Biding have been a popular target and a repository for many bombs, both high explosive and incendiary, without loss to the community. Nor were casualties inflicted, or appreciable material damage done, when raiders visited Ossett, Barnsley. Keighley, Bingley, Borrowby and Boroughbridge.
Harrogate, which had the distinction of a daylight visit from a solitary raider, was damaged to the extent of a shattered hotel conservatory, the wrecking of a large house, and the breaking of windows over a large area. The casualties were confined to one woman seriously injured.
The most pessimistic Yorkshireman — and the Tyke is not disposed to pessimism — could not regard the results of these air attacks as providing the enemy with adequate reward.
The details which we are able to publish now for the first time - details which have been compiled by correspondents of “The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Mercury“ from their own investigations and not from official sources — make abundantly clear that the industrial efforts of the county are fully maintained.
In addition, the spirit of the people has never been higher and their determination to see the struggle through to victory is in all their activities.
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