To commemorate the 75th anniversary of one of Newcastle’s worst nights of World War 2, Heaton History Group member, Ian Clough, wrote: ‘The Night Bombs Rained on Heaton: 25th April 1941’.
Ian researched the event of that night, in which 47 people died when a parachute mine and a high explosive device destroyed many houses and lives in Guildford Place and Cheltenham Terrace, just yards away from his parents’ shop (still, of course, Clough’s Sweetshop to this day). He interviewed both survivors and relatives of those killed and gives us an insight into the victims’ lives, so tragically cut short.
Since the publication of the first edition, many more stories have come to light and have been incorporated into an expanded second edition, making it an even more tribute to everyone who died in Heaton that night.
Obtain a copy
The 28 page, black and white A5 book, which contains both historic and modern photographs is available only from Heaton History Group, either for £2 at any Heaton History Group talk or £3 to include postage and packing (cheques to be made payable to ‘Heaton History Group’) from Heaton History Group, c/o The Secretary, 64 Redcar Road, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 5UE.
You can read an earlier article by Ian here
Can you help?
If you know more about the night of 25-26 April 1941 or have memories, family stories or photographs of Heaton during WW2 to share, we’d love to hear from you. Either write directly to this website, by clicking on the link immediately below the title of this article or email the secretary of Heaton History Group, email@example.com
Derek H. W. McCarthy Has written to us:
I was six year old and living at 11 Mundella Terrace at the time the houses in Guildford Place were bombed. Our windows were blown out and tiles from our roof were damaged. My grandfather was Henry Waller, hence my middle name. He was closely related to the Waller who was world champion on a penny farthing. He was also head cashier at Parsons Marine. As a young boy I shopped many times at Mrs Clough’s on Heaton Road and Mrs Hugh’s at the corner of Mundella Terrace and Second Avenue and I remember both ladies well. I also remember a deflated barrage balloon coming down in Heaton Road and the goods station being bombed. Hard years but happy ones.
Heaton History Group member, Barry Andreasen sent us these family memories:
‘My Uncle John Henry, was witness to the Guildford Place bombing: he was an Air Raid Warden walking down North View, on the other side of the railway line, when he saw a parachute dropping from the sky. At first he thought it was someone who had ejected from a plane, but quickly realised, due to its size, that it was a bomb, (or as he always referred to it as a mine.) He said he dropped to the ground, lying flat with his arms over his Helmet. The consequent explosion was shattering, blowing him across the road onto a kerb. Although he was unhurt, he was in a state of shock and it took him a couple of minutes to realise what had happened, and to grasp the devastation before him. He remembered seeing a pile of smoking rubble and the trees lining the street covered with curtains and other debris from the houses. It was my Uncle’s only claim to fame, witnessing this event, or so he said in later years and he never forgot it, it was embedded into his mind.
My parents, Sidney and Nancy Andreasen, were at the time of the bombing living with my Grandmother, Margaret Henry. They had recently been married, had a baby, and were living near Heaton Junction: with the railway being a possible target they ‘decamped’ at her mother’s, thinking it would be safer. Grandmother’s house was in Meldon Terrace, facing along Second Avenue, and had its front door blown open and a window shattered upstairs from the blast. Mother remembers lots of people making the pilgrimage the next day to see the devastation. Some could not face going, feeling it was not right to ogle at people’s misfortune.’
Jack Goodwin has sent us these memories:
‘ My Father, who was a tram driver, finished his shift one night at Byker Tram Sheds around 10.00pm. and began walking home to Bolingbroke Street, Heaton. His route home took him down Tynemouth Road. Suddenly bombs began falling and at one point he actually saw the parachute of a Parachute Mine. He said he recognised what it was and dived into the front porch of a nearby house. When he eventually got home to find us sheltering under the stairs of the flat next door, he was badly shaken and his clothes were dirty and his boots were badly scratched.
I was nine years old at the time and next day I walked the short distance to Guildford Place to see the damaged caused by the land mine. The area was being kept clear of civilians but the rescue services were working and I saw several stretchers being carried from the wreckage of the houses. The nearby trees were damaged but had clothing hanging from branches where the blast had deposited them and personal possessions such as books and small items of furniture were scattered all around the wrecked houses. I still remember there was a smell of masonry but also an unknown smell, which I now realise must have been the smell of the high explosive.’
Heaton History Group member, Robin Long, sent us an extract from the Chronological History of St Gabriel, Heaton, for 1941.
‘During Spring, Heaton suffered a major disaster when a land mine fell on the south part of the parish, killing many parishioners of St Gabriel’s. Tributes were paid to the spirit of the people living around, who rendered utmost help in terrible circumstances. Two complete families were laid to rest by the Vicar [Rev’d E Dudley Clark] in a very trying week. The Hagons of 9 Guildford Place, which included three children aged 16, 8 and 6 and the Angus family of No 13 – mother and five children, the youngest aged 3.
Between Christmas and New Year, the Church and Vicarage suffered fire-bomb damage. The stone cross at the East end of the chancel roof was knocked off in the raid [it was replaced in the 1950’s]. The Lady Chapel floor suffered burn-marks still to be seen in the parquet blocks and the Vicarage had windows blown out. There were no personal injuries, just glass and soot everywhere. The fire bomb, which landed in the vicarage garden, also demolished all the Vicars’ leeks and parsnips.’
John H Gardner wrote:
‘My dad, John Gardner, the local Bobby was on duty that night 10pm – 6am. He was patrolling along Heaton Road by the Co-op stores when he saw a light in one of the shops opposite the stores, only yards from Guildford Place. He got into the shop and knocked out the light, (that light could have contributed to the bombing in that area), he then continued with his patrol. He walked along Heaton Road to the Police Box where he had to report in; he was told to return to Guildford Place as there had been an incident. That incident was the bombing of Guildford Place and Cheltenham Terrace. When he got there he was the first Bobby on the scene, he and others pulled out a number of bodies in the area that night.
At one point he lifted a door which was lying on the ground, underneath, all he found was, as he described it, “A torso of a young woman, no arms, no legs, no head”, a terrible sight on Civvy street. He was also told that a young sailor, presumably on leave, had gone in to one of the houses visiting someone before the bombs hit, never to come out again.
Dad describes that night as one of the worst nights he has witnessed. Thankfully he is still alive at 98 years young with all those terrible memories.’
My mother, Peggy Stewart, then aged 20, lived with her parents and four elder sisters at no. 24 Cheltenham Terrace – next to numbers 20 and 22. Her mother and the 5 daughters were in the kitchen having supper when the bomb fell next door. Mum is quite sure they would all have been killed if it hadn’t been for my grandma (Margaret Stewart) saying ‘I think we should all get under the table’. The house fell down around them trapping each one of them. My Mum said she had no idea for how long they were trapped and whether or not they had all survived, or if she was the only one. Miraculously they were all eventually pulled out ok – presumably they were 6 of the 10 people treated for minor injuries at the scene. My grandfather (Charlie Stewart) returned from night work at the railways – no house, but they were all alive.
Mum died 3 years ago – aged 92.
My great uncle, Robert Henry Jackson was an air raid warden and was on duty when a bomb dropped a direct hit in Guildford Place. He survived the blast but died later as a result of injuries sustained. Apparently he was never the same after the blast.