Tottington, Bury. Christmas Eve 1944. The War appeared to be turning in favour of the Allies. Threats of German bombing raids had gone, even the threat of invasion now seemed remote - as the Home Guard had been disbanded. And while London was still being targeted, we were surely safe up here in the North West weren't we?!
But the Germans had a new weapon - the V1 Rocket. A bomb with its own jet-propelled engine to carry it great distances, set to explode at a pre-determined point. When the engine cuts out - run and take cover!!
Above: The destruction on Chapel Street, Tottington on Christmas Eve 1944 by a V1 rocket.
Below: The site today is a Memorial Garden. St Anne's Church is just visible in the distance.
Left: The Memorial Stone detailing those lost.
Below: Two views of St Anne's Church, Chapel St, Tottington.
Left - the site today. Right - after the V1 attack.
Below that - Two views of Chapel Street.
The view today - showing the Whitehead Memorial Garden. And Right, a turn of the Century postcard showing what was there previously.
V1 & V2 Rockets - also known as Doodlebugs, Robots, Buzzbombs, Flying Bombs, there were many names for this weapon of terror, or "revenge weapon".
According to Peter J. C. Smith in his excellent book 'Flying Bombs over the Pennines': 27 houses were seriously damaged and 350 suffered some blast damage. 53 people were made homeless, 14 were injured and seven were killed: Nicolas Conway, Mary Conway, Elizabeth Draper, James Dyson, Teresa Dyson, Ann Greenhalgh and Bertha Greenhalgh.
The V1 and later V2 Rockets were mostly launched to attack Southern England and especially London. Above is a replica V1 at the excellent Eden Camp - a WW2 theme museum in Malton, Yorkshire.
2420 V1 Rockets landed on London between June 1945 and March 1945 killing over 6000 people.
Few reached the North West of England as we were out of range of the launching platforms - but then Germany changed tactics and launched them from planes which flew the rocket part of the way.
The bomb that hit Tottington on Christmas Eve 1944 was meant for Manchester. Others landed in Cheshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire and even Lincolnshire! So much for "precision bombing".
The rockets also dropped propaganda leaflets which the authorities were quick to seize - it was a criminal offence to keep them. The propaganda leaflets even had real letters home from British POWs that they were asked to write by their captors - promising that they would arrive for Christmas!! Not suspecting they would be sent home as part of a bomb! The concept was that people who found the letter would forward it on to it's addressee, who would promptly write back and tell their POW loved one the strange story of how they received the letter and where it landed. Thus the Germans would know how accurate their bomb had been. It seems a little far fetched, but it is all documented in Peter Smith's book.
Stubbins - near Ramsbottom was the victim of two parachute mines - SEE HERE FOR MORE DETAILS