A RECENT documentary about the Blitz brought back vivid memories for one Knowle woman – who lost two aunts in an air raid.
Great grandmother Doreen Ward was very close to the women, who died after a bomb struck their Coleshill home.
Just 14 at the time, Doreen had been living across the road, and remembers the tragedy like it was yesterday. Now 83, she recently found a newspaper report, and other information about the bombing, and brought them in to the Solihull News.
“I remember the night very clearly,” she explained. “My family had moved up to the Midlands from Norfolk, and we thought perhaps it would be safer.
“My aunts [Mary and Doreen Barton] lived with my grandmother – just opposite where I lived.”
On December 11, 1940, Birmingham was subjected to the longest night raid of the entire Blitz. For 13 hours, German aircraft bombarded the city, and over 200 people were killed in the onslaught.
A short distance away in Coleshill, Doreen’s family took refuge from the attack. Around 6am, following a lull in the bombing, Doreen’s aunts had gone back to bed – hoping to catch a few hours rest.
At 7.15am, a stray plane flew over the Warwickshire village, and dropped a string of bombs on the Coventry Road. The devices struck the corner bedroom, and an explosion shook the Barton home.
“We heard this huge bang and we knew that the bomb must have fallen really nearby,” said Doreen. “It didn’t take long for us to realise that it had hit grandmother’s house, and soon the ambulances were there.”
Mary Barton was found to be dead upon arriving at hospital, and her sister Doreen – who was gravely injured – passed away later that month. The siblings were buried together at Coleshill Parish Church.
q Do you have any memories of the Blitz on Solihull, Birmingham, and the surrounding area? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 150, High Street, Solihull, B91 3SX.