Sunday, 27 February 2011

News - Memorial service for bomber raid victims (Balby/Bessacarr,Doncaster)

A MEMORIAL service will be held in May to commemorate people who were killed in Doncaster’s worst air raid.

It is a victory for Cantley pensioner Margery White, who lost two relatives when a German parachute mine fell on Balby 70 years ago.

Mrs White, aged 78, has been campaigning for some form of commemoration of the event and was hoping Mayor Peter Davies would lend a sympathetic ear, after visiting the graves of those who were killed, last autumn.

The memorial service in the chapel at Rose Hill Cemetery at 11am on Monday May 9 was announced at this week’s Doncaster Council meeting.

A total of 16 people were killed when the mine exploded just after midnight on the same date in 1941.

Mrs White, of Chantry Close, Cantley, raised the matter during questions from the public at the council meeting.

Her two teenage uncles – Arthur and Alfred Nortrop – were among those killed.

A total of 73 other people were injured, including Mrs White’s grandparents. The bodies are buried in Rose Hill and Mayor Peter Davies offered his sympathy for her loss.

“I was eight years old at the time and I was a pupil at Woodfield Junior School which was damaged by the bomb blast, hence my interest in the matter.

She said: “I realise Doncaster Council is going through a difficult period financially but this anniversary could be deemed to be sufficiently significant to merit special treatment.”

Thirteen houses were blown up and more than 400 other houses were damaged by the blast – 19 of them had to be demolished.

The parachute mine landed only 38 minutes after other bombs landed in the Ellers Avenue area of Bessacarr, killing two people and injuring five more.

The dead were buried together in a row at Rose Hill Cemetery.

It was the worst single loss of life in Doncaster during the Second World War, although there were other raids aimed at the Plant Works and neighbouring Sheffield had suffered much higher casualties in late 1940.

Mrs White is also hoping schools in the area will become involved in a commemoration project.

The Mayor said he wanted to acknowledge the sacrifice made in conflicts in recent history and offered his sympathy to the families who suffered loss in 1941.

He said the service on May 9 will be open to all and he hoped to attend the event. The Vicar of Doncaster Rev Canon Dr Paul Shackerley will officiate.

Mr Davies said he hoped Mrs White would find the service a sufficient tribute to those who were killed and she thanked him for his response.

The mayor visited the graves last October for the Poppy Appeal.

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