REGINALD GEORGE COLLINS died December 1940 Sheffield

In February 2009 I received the following e-mail from a local Wiltshire historian

"I'm researching the names on our town war memorial in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, with a view to writing a book about the town's experience of the Second World War. One of the Bradford-on-Avon men whose name is commemorated, Private Reginald George COLLINS, died in Sheffield on 12 December 1940. I've been unable to find any information about how and where he met his death. I presume it was on the night of the first heavy raid on Sheffield; could he have been sheltering in the Marples when it was hit?

I checked on the records that are available for those people who were killed in the Marples public house on December 20th and Reg did not appear on them. I then checked the excellent Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and found the following entry 

Initials: R G
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Cheshire Regiment
Age: 30
Date of Death: between 12/12/1940 and 13/12/1940
Service No: 4132833
Additional information: Son of Arthur Edward and Emily Annie Collins, of Bradford-on-Avon.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. T. Grave 86.

I then referred to a couple of books I have relating to the Sheffield Blitz but could not find any information in them on Reg. I did ascertain that according  to the official statistics, out of the 668 who died during the two Luftwaffe raids, 25 were servicemen but to date I have been unable to establish whether or not they have been listed somewhere. As a side-note 92 of the 668 were unidentified which is a very sobering thought

However in one of the books I did find a section that may explain why it was proving difficult to locate details of Reg. The book is called "It's a Bit Lively Outside - The Story of the Sheffield Blitz" by Joyce Holliday and relates to the immediate aftermath of that night. Sadly there is no ID to the eye-witness.

I passed this information on to the author who replied a week or so later with the following information

"I've just received a copy of the death certificate for Reg Collins. It says he died at 'Cherry Street UD' on 12 December, but his death was not registered until 21 December....the cause of death was given as due to war operations and the informant was his CO at his regiment"

Cherry Street is well known as it is one of the roads that border Sheffield United's Football Club ground at Bramall Lane, and was the site of the now demolished and much loved cricket pavilion. The Pavilion dominated one side of Cherry Street and the Anchor Brewery the other side. They were houses on the Street but not many. Photos can be found on Picture Sheffield . an excellent resource. 

The area around the ground was badly hit on the night of Dec12-13th 1940.  The Cherry Street UD address means urban district and so Reg  could  have died anywhere is the vicinity of the ground. There were many pubs in the area and it is not that far - 10 minutes walk from the main rail and coach  station. In  the absence of any family connection with the area, I would hazard a guess that he was in the area with his army mates drinking on that night - perhaps one of his army mates was from Sheffield.
The fact that his death was not registered until 21st December 1940, over a week after the raid seems to indicate that  he may have been sheltering somewhere and when the bomb went off he was covered in debris/rubble and not discovered for a while.

I would of course be delighted if anyone could add some additional information on Reg. Please contact me


Reg's family - 1911 Census



Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Sheffield History - Civilian War Dead 1939 - 1945

Picture Sheffield

"It's a Bit Lively Outside - The Story of the Sheffield Blitz" by Joyce Holliday

1911 Census

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This page was last updated on 18/09/14 08:05