On the 80th anniversary of the Baedeker Raid, Raids Over York was delighted to be able to unveil its first ‘red’ plaque at York’s railway station.
It’s the first of a series of ‘red’ plaques to come from the project, which has been three years in the making.
The Baedeker Raid occurred in the early hours of the 29th April 1942 and led to damage of a third of all York’s housing.
York’s railway station was also severely damaged in the raid. It suffered from high-explosive and incendiary bombs, which killed two railway personnel: William Milner and Robert W. Smith.
The Raids Over York plaque, which is kindly sponsored by LNER, honours the loss of these two men and also tells why the station and the railways in York was the principal focus of the attack (and not the city’s cultural heritage, as is sometimes assumed by the ‘Baedeker’ title of the attack!)
The unveiling was a poignant but also uplifting event, and well attended including the Civic Party.
The event featured popular songs of the wartime era being sung by a talented chanteuse, complete with 1940s costume and hair.
There were also the laying of wreaths at the existing plaque in honour of William Milner, the Station Foreman who died trying to retrieve medical first-aid supplies during the raid.
Moving and informative speeches were made by the Managing Director of LNER, David Horne, and John Shaw, Chair of YAYAS and a leading member of the Raids Over York project team.
There was a reading of a contemporary war poem by Ken Cooke, one of York’s last few Normandy Veterans.
There was also a display in the 1st Class Lounge at the Station that brought home the scale of the destruction at the station during the raid.
And then there was the new plaque unveiling itself, made by Duncan Marks of York Civic Trust and the Raids Over York project team.
The plaque stands proud outside ‘Cycle Heaven’, just to the left-hand side of the exterior of the station building. Go have a look!
Following the morning’s plaque unveiling, there was a Baedeker walk around York Cemetery at 6pm, researched and led by members of the Friends of York Cemetery. The walk was provided by David Poole and Dennis Shaw, two men with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the cemetery’s “incumbents”. The walk remembered the victims of the Baedeker Raid by visiting the graves of 41 of the 51 victims who were laid to rest in York Cemetery.
On the evening of the Raid’s anniversary, at 7:15pm, the bells of St Lawrence rang out in memory of those who died in the raid and to those who lived through it -as did York Minster’s bells at 7.30pm. It was a most fitting and appropriate ending to a very important and significant day in the history of the City.