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Thread: Memories of the Merseyside Blitz

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    Newbie scouse exile's Avatar
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    Default Memories of the Merseyside Blitz

    As everyone keeps reminding us, it's almost seventy years to the month since war was declared and the Liverpool boys who were boys when I was a boy are old men now. So, allow one of them to reminisce --- and more specifically ask three questions which continue to intrigue me.
    1, Anyone who was a lad during the Blitz of 1940/41 will remember going out on the streets after a raid collecting shrapnel --- bits of shell casing from anti-aircraft fire. Those jagged lumps of pretty ueless metal became highly prized and collectable. I recall my gang even used them to play ollies (marbles ) tossing them along the gutter and collecting the other kid's shrapnel if you were able to hit it. I wonder, has anyone kept their shrapnel collection from seventy or more years ago?
    2, Those barrage balloons tethered on cables and hung in the sky all over Merseyside to deter German bombers. Was there any recorded case of a balloon bringing down a bomber?
    3, My first wife, as a little girl of about five, making her way home to the Liverpool district of Roby from Wavertree during a raid, tried to take refuge with her mother in an enormous underground shelter situated on waste land near The Rocket. It was so crowded they couldn't get in and continued home on foot. The shelter was hit by a land mine shortly after and many were killed. Does anyone have more details about that incident? For example, were there any survivors?


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    Could't imagine any survivors from a land mine hit. They were big muthers and used to demolish streets.

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    Newbie scouse exile's Avatar
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    Default small correction

    Sorry people. Should have written 'useless', not 'ueless'!
    As everyone keeps reminding us, it's almost seventy years to the month since war was declared and the Liverpool boys who were boys when I was a boy are old men now. So, allow one of them to reminisce --- and more specifically ask three questions which continue to intrigue me.
    1, Anyone who was a lad during the Blitz of 1940/41 will remember going out on the streets after a raid collecting shrapnel --- bits of shell casing from anti-aircraft fire. Those jagged lumps of pretty useless metal became highly prized and collectable. I recall my gang even used them to play ollies (marbles ) tossing them along the gutter and collecting the other kid's shrapnel if you were able to hit it. I wonder, has anyone kept their shrapnel collection from seventy or more years ago?
    2, Those barrage balloons tethered on cables and hung in the sky all over Merseyside to deter German bombers. Was there any recorded case of a balloon bringing down a bomber?
    3, My first wife, as a little girl of about five, making her way home to the Liverpool district of Roby from Wavertree during a raid, tried to take refuge with her mother in an enormous underground shelter situated on waste land near The Rocket. It was so crowded they couldn't get in and continued home on foot. The shelter was hit by a land mine shortly after and many were killed. Does anyone have more details about that incident? For example, were there any survivors?

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    I have read somewhere of Barrage Balloons bringing down aircraft. I have no idea where or when though. If you look at old photographs of D Day, you will see lots of them over the ships. So, they must have been effective to keep using them for such a long time. They would've been particularly useful during beach landings by keeping straffing aircraft on their guard and above the balloons. When I did my first parachute jump it was out of one of these balloons. There was a basket hanging underneath and we jumped from that.

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    Those posts of barrrage balloons triggered off a few memories. Being born in 1942,I gradually became conscious of my world and it was a world full of soldiers,airmen and sailors. The skies were full of barrage balloons,I never knew what they were for,like the sun and the moon they were just up there. There were still some balloons flying in late 1945 and I can remember one being pulled to the ground near Crown Street .
    BrianD

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian daley View Post
    Those posts of barrrage balloons triggered off a few memories. Being born in 1942,I gradually became conscious of my world and it was a world full of soldiers,airmen and sailors. The skies were full of barrage balloons,I never knew what they were for,like the sun and the moon they were just up there. There were still some balloons flying in late 1945 and I can remember one being pulled to the ground near Crown Street .
    BrianD
    Brian, where the balloons stretched all along the Mersey or just over the City and the Docks?

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    There was a few balloons which were put aloft every night in Lambeth Road
    school yard and also in Kirkdale Rec.They looked like elephants in the sky with their fins and stabilizers.
    Sometimes they would deflate and there would be a rush to get some of the material to make bags or to cover bikes and motorbikes in backyards
    I think all the women in our area of Kirkdale had shopping bags made out of the barrage balloon material.
    THE BEST VITAMIN FOR MAKING FRIENDS ? B.1

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregs dad View Post
    There was a few balloons which were put aloft every night in Lambeth Road
    school yard and also in Kirkdale Rec.They looked like elephants in the sky with their fins and stabilizers.
    Sometimes they would deflate and there would be a rush to get some of the material to make bags or to cover bikes and motorbikes in backyards
    I think all the women in our area of Kirkdale had shopping bags made out of the barrage balloon material.
    I love that, I can just picture the war lords complaining about their war toys going missing, and they were used for carrying potatoes home.

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    You may be interested to know that the civilian war
    memorial in Anfield cem as been cleaned up. For those
    that dont know this is a communal grave for 540 people
    killed in the blitz, it is 170 ft long and 8 ft wide and extends
    at the back of the memorial. The coat of arms onmthe memorial
    is by Tyson Smith

    Steve

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    Default Wartime Memories

    As a young boy, (aged 7 to 14) during the war, I remember well the collecting of schrapnel after raids, also incendary bomb tails, and of course the Barrage Balloons, we had many around the Garston/Speke Airport area, I think also that although they would have brought down a plane if it ran into a cable, the main purpose was to deter planes, (Bombers) from certain strategic areas such as the Docks and the Airport, Don't forget Rootes aircraft Factory, and other important Industrial plants were protected in this way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveb View Post
    You may be interested to know that the civilian war
    memorial in Anfield cem as been cleaned up. For those
    that dont know this is a communal grave for 540 people
    killed in the blitz, it is 170 ft long and 8 ft wide and extends
    at the back of the memorial. The coat of arms onmthe memorial
    is by Tyson Smith

    Steve
    Thanks for that Steve, never heard of that. Seen a small memorial in Salford once. Not much bigger than a ciggie packet. 300 souls died in that spot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pablo42 View Post
    Thanks for that Steve, never heard of that. Seen a small memorial in Salford once. Not much bigger than a ciggie packet. 300 souls died in that spot.
    Pic pre renovation
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by steveb; 08-20-2009 at 11:39 AM. Reason: additions

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveb View Post
    Pic pre renovation
    Great that Steve, never knew it was there.

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    I came across this when I was looking for a photo of the Illustious, I hope you can make it out. If you can you willbe able to build your own barrage balloons,
    Cheers' or should that be Ack Ack Pip Pip,
    BrianD
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Barrage Balloonsn (Medium).jpg 
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ID:	11387  

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian daley View Post
    I came across this when I was looking for a photo of the Illustious, I hope you can make it out. If you can you willbe able to build your own barrage balloons,
    Cheers' or should that be Ack Ack Pip Pip,
    BrianD
    Thanks Brian, me and the neighbours are building our own barrage balloon this afternoon. There'll be no more Germans over Wallasey.

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    After seeing this thread, I decided to ask my old friend Harry Rimmer about his memories of the Barrage Balloons in Liverpool. Harry was born in 1927 and was once leader of our city. He's 82 now and still has has all his faculties.
    Here's my interpretation of his tale.

    The Barrage Balloons were positioned in one large circle around Liverpool, then, within this large circle, they created smaller circles of Barrage Balloons.
    In about 1940, he remembers all the balloons going up and next thing you know, there were German planes flying high above, dropping their cargo of bombs. Then the Thunder Storm arrived ......
    Harry thinks the Barrage Balloons went as high as 8 to 10,000 feet, held by a heavy steel wire/ cable.
    The WAF's looked after the raising and descending Balloons, on a few occassions, they got injured, trying to anchor the Balloon.
    Harry can't remember any of the Balloons, bring a plane down.

    Thunder and Lightening was all around and one was hit !
    It was anchored behind the Royal Oak on Upper Warwick St and Park Place.
    There was a bit of flat land ( bomb site ) and this is the one that got hit and destroyed by the lightening.
    It burst into flames and the worst part was, the heavy cable, dropping from so high up in the air

    He thinks it reached as far as Sefton park !
    One of the problems, whenever this happens was, when the cable was falling, obviously if it hit anyone, they would probably be dead AND it would obviously, fall across the electrified tram wires !
    So for a couple of seconds, before it was earthed, it would be live !

    On this occassion, the RAF were out in force and were cutting the cable up, into managable parts, to take away.

    I hope I've done Harry's tale justice here

    Harry is still, in mind, like he was when in his teens and remembers all sorts, from our history, in Liverpool. If you ever get the chance to talk to him, take it all in. One great man.
    Started the Old Swan Website:

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    Harry Rimmer, was a proverbial breath of fresh air,on the city council,after the stink,left by mr.Hatton,and his cronies! Got the city on the road to recovery,which we should all be grateful for!!

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    Martin, the idea behind the barrage balloons was to keep the attacking planes higher than they wanted to be. I've heard on many occasions that they brought planes down, but I think this may have been low level aircraft that were strafing.

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    I remember being told a while ago about the Merseyside Blitz. I was told that bales of hay were set on fire around Heswall to confuse the German bombers. It was felt that if the bombers seen the river and huge fire along it, they would assume this was Liverpool and drop their bombs. When I was a kid, there was an awful lot of round ponds all over Wirral. These were allegedly the remains of German bombs dropped in the Wirral clay. I've never seen any stories about this, just heresay.

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    I have a video somewhere called Merseyside at war, I'll have to dig it out !
    I'm sure there were tales of the Barrage Balloons !
    Maybe this is where I saw the image of the one outside the Museum area.
    Started the Old Swan Website:

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    Default TV Programme: Britain at War

    I am a producer working for the TV company Simply Media. I am currently making a WWII documentary series called Britain at War for the Military Channel.

    One of the episodes focuses on the Blitz and I am searching for the men, women and children who experienced the bombing over their towns and cities.

    I am hoping to film interviews in the next few weeks.

    If you would be interested in talking to me, you can contact me at aaron.hutchinson@simplymedia.tv. Please leave me a telephone number and I will call you back.

    I look forward to hearing from you,

    Aaron Hutchinson
    Producer
    Simply Media

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    Did anyone submit a story ?
    If so, didja get paid ?

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    Put them in touch with Harry Rimmer.

    As his agent ...
    Started the Old Swan Website:

    http://oldswan.piczo.com/?cr=5

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