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