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Two die in first air raid on World War Two

A MOTHER and daughter were killed when two houses were wrecked during the first North West air raid in Clayton-le-Moors on 20 June 1940.

THE scene of devastation in Clayton
THE scene of devastation in Clayton

A MOTHER and daughter were killed when two houses were wrecked during the first North West air raid in Clayton-le-Moors on 20 June 1940.

The husband was found alive but died later in hospital. Two other men were injured. No alarm was sounded and the first warning people had of the raid was the droning of the engines of a plane and the explosions of falling bombs.

The two people killed were Mrs Nancy Ramsbottom, aged 65, and her daughter Beatrice, 21. Mr Ephraim Ramsbottom, 66, was seriously injured and taken to hospital where his foot was amputated but he died the following day. The couple's son, Ephraim, who was about 28 years old and sleeping in the back bedroom, was uninjured and was able to climb out of the back window.

The bomb damaged three houses in the middle of the row. Two of them were nearly demolished and the third badly shaken. The occupants of the houses at either side of that occupied by the Ramsbottom family escaped serious injury.

These houses were not the only ones to be damaged. Further up the road a bomb dropped in the garden of a house, a deep crater was caused and the garden railings were smashed.

The fact that so few windows were broken was one of the most surprising features of the raid, during which around six high-explosive bombs fell in the district. A number of incendiary bombs, estimated at 30 or more, fell in another part of the area, but there was only one casualty. Mr Joe Wiggins, the occupant of a bungalow, sustained a fractured leg when a bomb came clean through the roof onto the bed occupies by him and his wife.

A reader recalls the shocking event …

WHEN my cousin died and her house was in the process of being sold, I was invited to go into it for the last time. It was originally my home from the age of two until I was a teenager. All my childhood was spent in Scott Street, Clayton-le-Moors, so I said yes.

There was one thing I had to do, and I surprised the people there when I went under the stairs with my memory of the night of June 20th 1940 when we were sheltering there at 2.30am having been awakened by the air raid siren and left our beds to go downstairs. Altham Pit coke ovens were lighting up the sky and all Clayton as usual.

A German bomber came over and dropped a stick of bombs over Whinney Hill and one bomb tragically killed some people in a house in Whalley Road, Altham. They also dropped 60 incendiary bombs in the small area bounded by Scott Street, Dryden Street, Milton Street, and a small section of Whalley Road parallel to Dryden Street.

These incendiaries fell through the roofs of houses and in the street. They had to be put out by the volunteer wardens and police specials with a stirrup pump and sand from a bucket.

When the "All Clear" sounded we went back to bed.

Anyone who lived through that night will never forget it. It was only a fortnight after Dunkirk and the Germans hadn't begun to blitz London, Manchester, Liverpool and all the other cities and towns. So it was so unexpected when the sirens went and we were bombed and people tragically died.

John Joinson, Whalley Road, Clayton-le-Moors.


Stuart Pike
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