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Christmas Eve 1944. Our Village is Bombed 7 are dead.

Updated on August 19, 2015
After the attack. A salvage team display the flying bomb that hit the cottages.
After the attack. A salvage team display the flying bomb that hit the cottages. | Source

A Christmas eve tragedy.

It was 5.50am on the morning of Christmas eve 1944, when the V1 rocket flying bomb, dropped from the sky, onto a row of cottages in Chapel Street in Tottington, a small rural community just outside Bury a town in Lancashire England. Six people were killed and 9 people were injured. One person later died of their injuries.

The attack.

A total of 45 rockets also known as Doodlebugs were launched that night, 15 of that number came down around the Manchester area which is a nearby city. The Tottington tragedy was the second worst bombing of the night. One bomb landed in the nearby town of Oldham where 32 people were killed. The launch sites from which these rockets were normally launched, had been overrun by the allies after the Normandy invasion. On this particular night all the rockets had been launched at Manchester, from converted Heinkel 111 Bombers flying over the North Sea.


Tottington.


Of the people killed one woman was visiting her sister for Christmas both of them were to die. Another woman was to die of her injuries on February 20th 1945. Today Whitehead Remembrance Gardens is on the site of the cottages. There is a plaque on the wall in the gardens which reads; THE WHITEHEAD GARDEN. THIS GARDEN WAS GIVEN BY MR & MRS WHITEHEAD OF STORMER HILL (Their nearby house) TO THE PEOPLE OF TOTTINGTON. TO BE ENJOYED BY THEM FOR ALL TIME IN MEMORY OF THOSE NAMED BELOW WHO WERE KILLED HERE BY A FLYING BOMB ON 24th DECEMBER 1944.


The Theft.

Today the plaque on the wall is a stone tablet, this is not the original Bronze memorial plaque. It is incredible that some years ago the original plaque was stolen. It was found in a local scrap yard, damaged beyond repair. Shortly afterwards the stone tablet was erected.


When I pass the gardens.

We lived in Tottington during the 1970s and then as now local people have great respect for the gardens. I still have family members who live only one mile from them and when visiting I always make a point of passing by. Yes I am in the car but I always turn and nod to the memory of those that were lost and injured. When we think about it, this was one incident on one night and the pain can still be felt. Europe was ablaze Millions were lost Why do we do it? Poem: Remember That Soldier.



© 2013 Graham Lee

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    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 23 months ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Missy. Thank you for your kind comments and valued visit. It takes all sorts to make a world does it not. Thanks for reading.

      Graham.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 23 months ago from Florida

      This article caught my eye for several reasons; one, my dad was born in that year, two, my grandfather and his brother were in WWII. His brother didn't make it home alive, and is remembered on a statue in their town square. My Grandfather, I believe was a cook, whether or not that helped him out, I suppose it might have. I didn't know about this particular bombing, and it's so very sad. Any war is sad, and your poem "Remember That Soldier," to me, was an ode to all who have fought in any of the wars. You did an excellent job writing this article of remembrance and the poem. :)

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Robert. Thank you for your visit and comment. Yes it takes all sorts to make a world doesn't it.

      Graham.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      This is a very touching article. It is amazing someone could be so heartless to steal such a plaque.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Tony. Thanks for your visit. I don't know the answer to you wondering, I do know that they put just enough fuel in to reach a general destination. When it ran out they just dropped. The luck of the draw I'm afraid if you were underneath.

      Keep smiling.

      Graham.

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 3 years ago from Yorkshire

      Hi Graham

      good hub and very interesting. I did not realise that the doodlebugs had been targeted on Lancashire as well as the southeast. I wonder what their furthest range would have been.

      regards

      Tony

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello Mary. Thank you for your valued visit. The next question is; will we ever learn? Thank you for your votes and comments.

      Graham.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      My recently deceased father-in-law was always worried that the next generation would not know about the war. Hubs like this keep it alive and remind us of the horror people had to deal with. Here in the states we had nothing recent to compare it to, that is till 9/11. Your question couldn't be more compelling...Why DO we do it?

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Pamela. Thank you for your visit and comments. War is indeed horrible though it will never end. There will always be conflict. I once heard it described as, natures pruning fork.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Eddy. Thanks for your welcome comments today. Graham.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      War is so horrible. I can't imagine living in an area where boomers flew over at any time and all you had a few minutes around hearing a siren to try to seek cover. This is a very touching account of that horrible time. I recently wrote an account of a man who lived through Guadacanal. I never realized a man counld suffer so much and like you said, for what?

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Hi Graham thanks for very moving and interesting hub. Here's to so many more from us both to share on here.

      Eddy.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Annie. Thanks for your reply. I am still unsure but I will find it somewhere. See my new hub; Making a difference. You have made a difference with your helping hand today. It is 102 degrees here this morning, the sun is cracking the flags. I will have to rest now with a nice Lemonade.

      Best wishes.

      Graham.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 3 years ago from Spain

      Hi Graham.

      I´m no whizz kid when it comes to computers either. The only thing I can think to do is highlight all the text in your capsules and then click OFF the underline icon but I expect you have already tried this.

      I haven´t written anything for quite some time except a quick hub just the other day and I noticed a lot of changes to the site which I have to say I found rather annoying. I know HP is only trying to help but do we really need all those hints and tips when we start a new capsule ?

      Anyway if you can´t get an answer to the underlining problem try contacting HP or put out a question. I always ask for answers to be in plain language as I don´t understand computer speak and the last time I did this it was really helpful and I had a step by step guide from some kind and patient soul on how to solve my problem, in language even I could fathom.

      Good luck and take care. Anne :)

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Annie. Thank you for your valued visit. I know about the underlining, it is not there when I finish the text, but if I publish, read it through and then make a change, when it comes back it is underlined. I don't know what to do to clear it up. Can you help Annie.

      I am not clever with computer work.

      Thanks again.

      Graham.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 3 years ago from Spain

      Hi Graham.

      Well I never. The bombs surely must have missed whatever targets they were aiming for unless there were munition works in Lancashire at that time or maybe engineering for war machines was taking place. It´s very sad and I´m glad that the local people treasure the gardens . Shame on those who stole the plaque and even more on the scrap merchant who bought it off them, he must have known of it´s meaning. War and all that goes with it, what a waste.

      Don´t know if you noticed Graham but most of your text is underlined. Keep well dear :)

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Faith. What can we do? I am at a loss I'm afraid. If we look at today's madness, I fear for the future. God bless you and yours.

      Thank you for your votes.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi David. Thank you for your comments. Yes, when war is closer to home we all become more aware of it's horror. I am sure at one point it was reported that Churchill said; 'Jaw jaw not war war' he of course knew that to end it all parties have to stop and talk.

      Graham.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Very moving piece here dear Graham. You words paint a vivid picture of such horrors of that day.

      Yes, quite profound ... Why do we do it?

      Up and more and sharing

      God bless, Faith Reaper

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Quite a touching article, Graham. That's total war for you-- no one is out of the "front lines", nothing is sacred. And, perhaps just as bad, horrific acts compel the "good guys" to return in kind. If we can't end war, we must at least acknowledge it's horrible truths-- that there is no glory in war and none of the participants escape without blood on their hands. Sorry for the gloom, but your piece has put me in a somber mood.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Jackie. Thank you for your thoughtful comments also your votes and sharing.

      Graham.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Strange so many are writing of WWII here lately and well of course I am very interested in that time. I wonder though if it isn't the threat of the next one to come that has us thinking of these times. Up and sharing.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Bill. Thanks for your comments. Yes sometimes the people were so tired that if the sirens went after they had gone to bed, they just stayed there. A family story of mine relates my to my dad in bed, the sirens went, he had got toothache and said; 'If they get me, they get me, anything's better than this' Crackers at the time but raised many a laugh when I was a lad.

      Graham.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I was reading a timeline of World War 2 the other day, and there were so many entries that detailed the almost nightly bombings in the UK....and I simply could not comprehend what it must have been like to live with that uncertainty and fear, not knowing when you went to bed if you were going to wake up in the morning....and hearing the bombs exploding...and the constant sirens....

      Why do we do it indeed?

      Powerful, Graham!

      bill