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Air Raid in or near Nechells

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
I recently read the following brief comment referring to a Home Guard unit whose area of responsibility included Nechells. It was written in early 1943.



The Battalion is situated in a vulnerable area, and during the 'blitzes' of 1940 did exceptionally good work in fire-fighting and evacuation of civilians from damaged areas and threatened shelters. On one particular occasion over three hundred were moved from beneath a burning building to other shelters three hundred yards away, without loss to the civilians. Two men were killed and two wounded in this process.​
Does any forum member recognise this incident? Could they provide me with any more information, in particular on place, date and possibly identity of the casualties, please?

Thanks.

Chris
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Nechells OR Aston

Thanks, Alf and Wendy.

When I say Nechells, I think it could equally possibly have been in Aston. And whilst the inference is 1940, perhaps it could have been 1941. The words are very inexplicit as they were to be published and I suppose they were therefore chosen with care in the interest of national security.

Any further help gratefully accepted!

Chris
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
What is also useful in connection with Blitz research is the site posted by Colin B elsewhere which has the advantage of being searchable by location, date etc. An excellent effort.
https://www.swanshurst.org/barra/default.asp?section=aboutbarra

I'm still struggling with this query. It must have been a noteworthy event - the rescue of so many people safely (where were they anyway, in a public shelter?) and the regrettable loss of the others, presumably Home Guard/A.R.P/firefighters.

The man who wrote the report commanded a Nechells/Aston Home Guard Battalion. But I am wondering if his words refer to another event, a bit further away, to which his unit was summoned.

Any help please?

Chris
 

Colin B

gone but not forgotten
Chris,
In the book Heroes of the Birmingham Air Raids by Michael Minton there is a copy of the report of an air raid on 9th & 10th April 1941 taken from The London Gazette.It records a fire on the premises of L.H.Newton & Co. Ltd. bolt, nut and screw manufactures,Thimblemill Lane,Nechells where a number of incendiary bombs had hit the building setting the upper floors alight when a High Explosive bomb landed on the building pierced all four floors and exploded on the ground floor making a large hole and exposing part of the basement......."The fire spread rapidly and involved the whole works making it necessary to evacuate a large basement shelter housing 400 employees, several of whom had been injured and were receiving treatment in the first aid department".......for their part in the events of that night Fireman William Bennett AFS was awarded the George Medal..Fireman James Meers AFS the British Empire Medal and Kings Commendation to Philip Bermingham or Bermington (report/index spells it both ways) of the 5th Birmingham Battalion Home Guard.The BARRA site lists one death at the site on that date

Could this be it

Colin
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
I'm quite sure it is, Colin, and very many thanks for the information.

L.H. Newton & Co. Ltd. must have been a large company - long since gone I assume - to have had so many employees presumably all on the night shift and congregated in a single basement shelter. Perhaps it might have doubled up as a public shelter too.

I hope to post something connected with all this in due course.

Thanks again - it's rare for this forum not to come up trumps!

Chris
 

Colin B

gone but not forgotten
Chris,glad to have been of help thats what it's all about.
L.H.Newton appears in Kelly's 1949 and is located between Long Acre and High Park Street, by 1969 it's become part of the GKN group and is listed as G.K.N. Bolts & Nuts (L.H.Newton Division), so the building may have been repaired and continued in production, someone will be able to tell us,searching the forum shows they had a football team in 1946/47

Colin
 

sylviasayers

master brummie
Around 1953/1956 a crowd of us used to go to dances in the canteen there so it was obviously rebuilt following the air raids, production for the war effort would have been vital and from reading other posts about factories being rebuilt very quickly after bomb damage I guess it was the case here.
 
S

Steve C

Guest
air raid victim database

There is a great database connected with BARRA - it is highly searchable for all deaths, injuries and locations of air raids on Birmingham

www.swanshurst.org/barra

Hope it is of some use

Steve

 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Many thanks for all the the contributions.

I have taken the liberty of making use of some of the information in something I've done on WW2 Nechells which can be seen here.

Chris
 

Colin B

gone but not forgotten
Well done Chris,I'm glad I was able to help,you have managed to piece together so many bits of information to give a very detailed report of the event. Because of censorship at the time many reports lacked specific details such as location and dates, so it's a case of collecting lots of information and attempting to slot them into position, you must be pleased when it all fits together.I hadn't visited your site for a while and was amazed to see how it has grown, I must find time to go through all.
Again well done

Colin
 

Graham

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Air raids

Hi Chris,

At the outbreak of war my mom lived in Nechels and the few times that she talked about the war was when ran for shelter during a raid. She reached the shelter entrance and was blown inside by the blast. At that time she was pregnant with her 5th child, a boy who was named Paul, but he died shortly after birth. I don't know if his death had anything to do with the raid, but when I was born mom gave me the name Graham-Paul in memory of him.
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for kind words, Colin. I was very grateful to you for giving me the first lead on the L. H. Newton raid (and have tried to acknowledge the fact in the small print!). If anything about the Home Guard crops up in connection with your Kings Heath research I should be very interested to hear about it.

Thanks also, Cadeau, for that memory. I wonder where exactly your mother was living. So many victims and it sounds as though your young brother might have been another one, an indirect one. There must have been many like that - my own grandfather was bombed out of his Handsworth home, wasn't injured, but succumbed to pneumonia not long after. Not in the statistics but a victim, nevertheless. The Swanhurst School website, mentioned elsewhere in this thread, gives a lot of searchable information on the recorded casualties and thus an indication of where the major impacts were. And Cromwell (whom we are all missing) from time to time posted parts of a map showing where each bomb fell. Nechells and Aston must have had a dreadful pasting.

Chris
 

ChrisM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Colin, you may already consult the BBC's People's War Archive for your research. There's a lot of WW2/King's Heath stuff in it. Have a look at a list here.

Chris
 

Graham

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Chris,

I will have to try and find out just where in Nechells my mother lived at that time. I can only guess that she moved to Sparkbrook, where I grew up, to be near her sister when her husband was killed at El Alamein.

Graham.
 

rocketron

Gratified Brummie
Hi Chris,

My mom lived in Railway Terrace at the time of the air raid on Newton’s. She was pregnant at the time and was advised by the midwife to go to the air raid shelter under Newton’s, were she could be cared for together with other expectant mothers. Fortunately she refused and stayed with friends in their own Anderson shelter at Railway Terrace.

Her account of that night differs greatly from the one of the Home Guard. The main explosion was so powerful it dislodged their Anderson shelter, which my father had buried some four feet down and covered by the excavated earth. She was told there were many fatalities including expectant mothers, partly due to the factory boilers exploding, which were situated in the basement of the factory.

Ron
 

mollie cross

master brummie
Re old market hall

:confused::confused:dont know if i'm posting this in the right place , but here goes . does anyone know of a site where i might get a picture of the old birmigham market hall before it was damaged in the blitz , thanks Mollie.
 
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