John Hornsby writes:

I was six in 1939 and remember every second of the war, particularly the raids on Birmingham. As a lad I remember standing at playtime at Trittiford Road School watching in awe as a thousand Allied bombers came over heading for Germany, forming up from varied airfields as they came over.

We may now not always have the chronology of events right but in general the following may be of interest:

The first big raid over Bham was the 20 hour raid following on Coventry the previous night (where my grandmother was a victim). Our family found the communal underground shelters overcrowded and hot and we took a risk and came out heading for home. As we walked we saw the search lights beaming, shells going up, the bombs falling and the town blazing. It was the flooded Anderson at the bottom of the garden after that!

I met a gentleman recently in Cotteridge Park who was born in the cottages opposite to Francis Road and as a lad remembers a German bomber coming over, circling and the pilot waving or saluting down!! The same plane then dropped his incendiaries which burned down the woodyard in Francis Rd alongside the rail track. He then saw the plane head away towards Bournville and those corner placed guns somewhere in the distance hitting the tail of the plane and it was last seen losing height.

An ex-Bomber Command pilot friend once told me that the German Navigation School in Berlin failed to school their pilots well and he thought this was the reason for them never quite finding and hitting the Austin. That and their fuel was at the limit around Cotteridge where they would turn for home. Many came down on the back trip from Wythall, Oxfordshire and the South Coast. If they had done their turn at Waste Hills it perhaps it may have been a different story.

The 1943 lone plane as mentioned sprayed bullets up the Pershore Road as workers were about to come out of the factory gates below the then Breedon. One day I will succeed in finding the outcome of its flight.

3 Responses to “Wartime bombing”

  • Cliff:

    Cliff Fleetwood adds:
    Regarding the thousand bomber raids, I am sure that there were several such raids as the war progressed but the first was at the order of the Prime Minister when everything that could fly was put into the sky, including training machines, and Coastal Command.
    The raid took place on the night of 30th/31st May 1942, with the target Cologne. I know this because I was on my way home with Tommy Batchelor in a lorry from Lincoln, having delivered a load of tank tracks, and we were stopped several times to allow some of the aircraft to cross the road to reach the runways. It was impressive but frightening and we were glad on arrival in Leicester.

  • Tony:

    Tony James e-mails too:
    On reading Mr Fleetwood’s memories I wonder if he remembers running into his house to get what I think was his father’s shotgun when the German bomber came over the school roof, just missing the bell tower, twice, and the pilot had the cheek to wave to us kids standing by Fleetwood’s yard in Breedon Rd. Also the bomber which opened fire on the workers leaving Guest Keen & Nettlefolds, I’m glad to say that he missed all of them to the best of my knowledge.
    I also well remember getting told off by our teachers for being late into school because we had been watching the firemen putting out the fire at the wood-yard in Frances Rd. For once the bomber was accurate in only hitting the wood-yard and none of the houses, although if he was aiming for the railway yard then his aim was lousy.
    I remember watching very early in the war when a bomber was very low over Bournville being shot at with shells bursting all round him and my thought was for the men on board the plane not being able to do anything about their fate, but I soon learned to have different feelings though.

  • Lesley Walker:

    I remember my mom telling me about the German bomber that flew low over their garden in Rowheath Road and dipping his wings as she waved to him.
    They were a large family, the Georges, and my granddad had a haulage company in Northfield Road called the White star Line, circa 1929.
    If anyone has any photographs or information on this company I would love to see it.

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