Monday, 9 May 2011

News - Nottingham remembers the Blitz 70 years on with Council House bombing reenactment

IT was a haunting sound that harked back to one of Nottingham's darkest hours.

As the air raid siren echoed around the Old Market Square, memories flooded back from May 8 and 9, 1941.

More than 200 people were killed in the Blitz as German bombers targeted the city during the Second World War.
A mock reenactment of a bombing of the Council House took place on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of the grim event.

Around 200 people who gathered to watch were told to take cover as smoke billowed around the iconic building.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Brian Grocock, then emerged on the balcony shouting for help.

Within minutes, a fleet of vintage fire engines arrived on the scene to put out the blaze and rescue Mr Grocock.

The firefighters, wearing tin hats, sprung into action with one member of the crew raised 20 feet into the air on a ladder to tackle the fire from above while others led the Lord Mayor to safety.

The scene brought memories flooding back for 74-year-old Irene Hardman, who was living in Bertram Street, in The Meadows, at the time of the Blitz.

She said: "When the sirens started up we all ran out into one of the brick shelters in the street. I didn't really understand what was going on but I remember one of our neighbours playing an accordion and we were all singing in the shelter while the planes were overhead."

She added: "When I heard the siren again it was just as I remember. I think it's wonderful that young people can come and get a feel for how it was for us."

Sylvia Sheppard, 77, of Carlton, said her father, Cyril Hawtin, served as a firefighter on the night of the Blitz.
She said: "He went to the Co-op Bakery, in Meadow Lane, after it was bombed and an awful lot of people were killed.

"We were living in Cycle Road, Lenton, at the time and I remember there was a lot of bombs dropped around us as well, including at the Raleigh factory.

"I remember my mum telling us to duck down and put our heads towards the fireplace as the bombs fell."
Ten-year-old Charlie Hawthorne-Bales, of Hucknall, watched the reenactment with his nan, Norma Bales, 69.

He said: "My nan's told me about the black-outs and the Blitz and I thought this was really interesting. The siren was noisy and I really liked the smoke and the old fire engines."

More than 300 civilians were killed in Nottingham during the Second World War, including the victims of the Blitz.

They are all named in a wartime exhibition on display in the Council House from today until Friday.

Donations were collected at the event for the £20,000 Nottinghamshire Firefighters Memorial Appeal, which will honour the names of nearly 40 Notts firefighters who have died on duty.

An open weekend also took place at Central Fire Station on Saturday and yesterday to remember Nottingham's worst night of the war.

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