MARPLES HOTEL - THURSDAY DECEMBER 12th 1940
The article that is reproduced above was taken from The Times dated Saturday 14th December 1940 (page 2 issue 48799)
On Saturday 14th December 1940 The Scotsman newspaper (page 8) gave the following report
RAID ON SHEFFIELD
Extensive Damage to Property
2 NIGHT BOMBERS DOWN
Returning to their one-town tactics German raiders on Thursday night made Sheffield and the Sheffield area their main target. Damage to property was considerable , but the number of casualties was not large having regard to the scale of the attack.
Cinemas, stores and shops were destroyed and several streets were blocked by wrecked iramcars and the debris of damaged buildings . In some cases churches were hit or damaged by blast and many, houses were made uninhabitable. One church was gutted and schools, banks and and licensed premises were among the buildings damaged. A bomb fell near the entrance to a hospital, but all the patients escaped injury.
An Air Ministry and Ministry of Home Security communique issued last night stated:— " No bombs have been dropped in any area during daylight today (Friday.) The following communique on Thursday night's raids was issued yesterday morning: "During last night the enemy developed an attack on an industrial region in the North of England (later declared to be the Sheffield area.) . " The principal damage was done in one town, where a number of buildings. were destroyed and roads damaged or temporarily blocked. Large numbers of incendiary bombs were, as usual, employed, but the fire situation was soon well in hand. Reports are as yet incomplete, but do not suggest unduly heavy casualties, and elsewhere in the region casualties were very few. In the rest of the country there were some small scattered incidents involving little damage and few casualties. Two enemy bombers were destroyed."
It was later disclosed that the industrial region referred to in the communiqué was the Sheffield area.
“Sheffield on Fire at Various Places"
The official German News Agency stated yesterday: — "Sheffield was raided by formations of German bombers, which, from early yesterday evening, dropped bombs of the heaviest calibre on the town. The bombers accurately aimed their bombs at the extremely important armaments factories of Sheffield.
The crews of the first returning waves of aircraft reported that after the first few hours of the attack Sheffield was on fire at various places. An eye-witness report quoted by the Agency claims that a factory producing special steels was among the targets attacked. It is declared to have been hit by two heavy bombs. According to this report machinegun fire coming from night factories was observed.
The fires at Sheffield, the Agency adds, were seen gradually to grow into a 'sea of flames’. Many explosions were observed."
Reading the reports, sixty years plus after the event, the first and most striking feature of the articles is the paucity of information about the bombing and its consequences. But, given wartime restrictions and censorship imposed on newspapers by the Ministry of Information, this is understandable. But what is more disturbing is the Air Ministry and Ministry of Home Security's deep desire to downplay the effects of the raids the raids on the civilian population. Their communiqué issued on the 13th December was almost dismissive of the raid. I am sure that anyone who read the reports in the papers AND who had experienced the raids would have found the official German News Agency's a lot closer to the truth than that issued by the UK government.
The intensity of, and devastation caused, by the raids are shown in the figures. Over 660 lives were lost, 1500 more were injured and 40,000 were made homeless. 3,000 homes were demolished with a further 3,000 badly damaged. A total of 78,000 homes received damage. This was what happened - it was a concerted attempt by the Nazi's to destroy Sheffield as a major steel making and manufacturing centre. Papers released after the war reveal that the UK government was obsessed for want of a better word with "civilian morale" They believed that one of the most crucial aspects of the whole war was to maintain the hope and belief of the British people in the final victory over the Nazis. They were deeply concerned about the catastrophic effects that the devastating German air-raids would have on the civilian population and introduced a wide variety of measures to counteract them.
Some were draconian such as internment and imprisonment, some were designed to boost public confidence such as AA defences and some were introduced purely to give the impression that the government was doing something when it wasn't. The communiqué's of 13th December 1940 fall into this last category.
In July 2010 I was able to obtain a report from The Sheffield Telegraph and Independent dated 17th December 1940 that was in effect a set of instructions dictated by the Ministry of Information to those civilians who had survived the bombing.
1. The raids of 12th-13th December 1940 and 15th December 1940 were not the only time that the German Luftwaffe bombed Sheffield. The following raids took place but none of them had the intensity, and accuracy of the December 1940 raids. (Those two raids alone claimed 602 lives, seriously injured another 513 people and a further 1,058 suffered slight injuries.)
August 18, 1940 - Blackbrook Road, near Cottage Homes (no injuries),
August 20, 1940 - Standon Road; Wincobank (no injuries),
August 29, 1940 - Sheaf Street; Finlay Street; St. Phillips District (four dead, 17 seriously hurt, 61 slight injuries),
August 31, 1940 - Cooks Wood Road; Rutland Road (three seriously injured, 20 slight injuries),
September 11, 1940 - Brett Street; Worthing Road (one dead, two serious injuries, one slight injury),
September 26, 1940 - Carbrook; Tinsley district (three dead, 11 seriously injured, 11 slight injuries),
October 15, 1940 - Concord Park; Woolley Wood Road (no injuries),
January 9, 1941 - Dore (one slight injury),
January 16, 1941 - Aldine Court; Sheaf Street; Glossop Road (three slight injuries),
February 4, 1941 - Slayleigh Avenue (one dead, one seriously hurt, four slight injuries),
March 14, 1941 - Southey Hill area (land mines); Northumberland Road (eight killed, 29 seriously hurt, 29 slight injuries),
Note: acc to my records, there were ten fatlities
- the mine that exploded on Southey Hill on 14 March 1941 killed two families
Redfern Anthony 2 yrs 14 Mar 1943 43 Southey Hill
Redfern Ellen 43 yrs 14 Mar 1943 43 Southey Hill
Redfern Joyce 15 yrs 14 Mar 1943 43 Southey Hill
Redfern Kathleen 20 yrs 14 Mar 1943 43 Southey Hill
Redfern William 42 yrs 14 Mar 1943 43 Southey Hill
who are buried together in Sheffield's City Road Cemetery -
REDFEARN (Killed in air raid, age 42).
Died at Southey Hill; Buried on March 19, 1941 in General Portion ground; Grave Number 7462, Section J of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.
Makin Betty 17 yrs 14 Mar 1941 41 Southey Hill
Makin Doris 43 yrs 14 Mar 1941 41 Southey Hill
Makin Jean 9 yrs 14 Mar 1941 41 Southey Hill
Makin Peter 45 yrs 14 Mar 1941 41 Southey Hill
Makin Roy 14 yrs 14 Mar 1941 41 Southey Hill
More information on the tragedy can be found on
A raid had started and we were in the shelter. Dad was out fire watching in the area, Harry Rainsford from next door was on duty at the A.R.P. post at Southey Green School so we were in their shelter keeping his wife and mother-in-law company. There was a tremendous bang and we heard some thing hit the house wall, I was sitting at the far end of the shelter on a bunk when what appeared to be a tongue of flame licked through the entrance and I was lifted up and banged against the shelter wall. It was the blast from one of the land mines that were dropped by parachute. It landed at the top of Southey Hill opposite St Bernard's Church which was only a prefab type building and it was flattened. The houses across were completely destroyed and the families wiped out. One of the large families was the Redfern's - I knew the lads because they were at my school and one was in my class. We found out what the bang on the wall was. Dad was just coming back to see we were alright when the mine exploded and it was his steel helmet that had blown off.
People in story: Don Hibberd - Interviewed by Sarah Hyatt
Location of story : Sheffield
Background to story: Civilian
Article ID: A3594134
Contributed on: 30 January 2005
May 9, 1941 - Little London (Stokes Works); Hastings Road; Cemetery Road (two killed, 11 seriously injured, 25 minor injuries),
October 12, 1941 - Ellesmere Road; Scott Road; Grimesthorpe Road (eight killed, two seriously hurt, 17 minor injuries),
October 20, 1941 - AA Shell in Clarkehouse Road (no bombs) (two killed),
July 28, 1942 - incendiaries at Hunter's Bar (no
The total of deaths from air raids over Sheffield was 631 with another 589 seriously injured and 1,228 sustaining slight injuries.
(This information appeared in a letter to the Sheffield Star dated 29th January 2010)
2. According to The Star at the time,
there were 11 parachute mines dropped in total.
However, the excellent book by Mary Walton, Raiders over Sheffield, which was written from the contemporary records, says that 14 mines were dropped in the second raid. of these, 2 failed to explode. 1 damaged Bolsover Rd/Barnsley rd at Firth park; another damaged Coleford Rd, Whixley Rd and Cottingham St at Darnall (see below); another damaged Bessemer Rd, Shepcote Lane and greasborough Rd; another landed in Hadfield's, another hit Brown Bayley's, another Steel, Peech & Tozer, and another hit Brightside Station.
The combined total of unexploded bombs for the 2 raids was 143, of which 6 were unexploded mines. Of these, 1 fell in Tinsley Rolling Mills, 1 fell in Hucklow Rd, 2 at Crookesmoor, and 2 near Malin bridge.
Of those that exploded, in the first raid 1 exploded between the gasholders at Neepsend, and in the second raid, 1 exploded in Cottingham St., and 1 in the grounds of Firvale Institution (now part of the Northern General Hospital.)
The Times dated Saturday 14th December 1940
The Scotsman dated Saturday 14th December 1940
The Sheffield Telegraph and Independent dated 17th December 1940
Sheffield Star dated 29th January 2010
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