Each incident during the Baedeker Raid on York on 29th April is unique in its own right, even if common to them was a story of personal tragedy, too-often human loss, and occasionally tales of wretched good or bad luck as to whether the person would be a casualty, fatality or physically unscathed.
It is impossible to choose one incident over another to focus in detail upon.
Therefore, in the weeks following the 80th anniversary of the Baedeker Raid on 29th April 2022, all twenty of the bomb rescue incident reports prepared under the authorisation of A.R.P. Warden Shearing will be transcribed on this page.
Themes that run across these individual incidents can be read, along with a wider study of the Baedeker Raid on York here.
#1. Mansfield Street
‘A direct hit caused the complete demolition of Nos. 11 and 13, partly demolishing seven more houses. A fire broke out in one of the houses opposite and quickly spread to the adjoining houses. Eventually the fire was controlled by the N.F.S
When I arrived on this incident I contacted Mr. Lovewell, one of our Resaue Personnel who lived in No. 9 and had been sheltering with his wife in the cupboard under the stairs. He told me that a mother and daughter had been sheltering under the stairs in the house next door.
C. Johnson with a Resaue Party from Foss Islands was there, and rescued the daughter alive and recovered the body of the mother dead.
As all the rest of the people at this incident were accounted for, this incident was closed after recovering one person alive and one dead.’
#2. [Bar] Convent, Nunnery Lane
‘In this incident a large H.E. bomb fell through the roof of the Convent backing on Nunnery Lane. A York Rescue party from Scarcroft Depot was sent and found the body of a Nun which was identified. This was as far as the incident had progressed when I arrived. With Dr. Crane and the Rescue Leader I went into the Convent and arranged with the Mother Superior to have a roll call of all the occupants. This was quickly done and it was found that four more were unaccounted for. It was supposed that all four would be in the basement laundry, so Rescue work was continued and recovered another body. A Rescue party from Leeds relieved the York party. Heating pipes proved a nuisance and were cut with an Oxy-acetylene cutter.
Dangerous walls necessitated the closing of Nunnery Lane. G. Banks considered that the outer wall (14 ins) was liable to collapse at any moment and therefore, want back to his Depot. At about 5.p.m. on that day I visited this incident and decided that the wall, although dangerous was safe enough to allow men to work underneath, providing no traffic was allowed in the street, and therefore, set another party working here and after working 5 days all persons were recovered and incident closed at 17. 50. hours Sunday 3rd May.’
#3. Pickering Terrace
‘This particular incident was caused by a H.E. falling in the centre of the road, immediately in front of the entrance to Shipton Street School, and a number of I.B.’s falling on some terraced houses facing the road where the H.E. exploded.
A Rescue party from Foss Islands Depot arrived shortly afterwards and the Leader discovered soldiers, police, wardens and members of the public carrying out rescue work. He thought that they were working well and directed them to carry on, but in a different place, where it was not so dangerous and continued with the Rescue party where the rest of the people had been working.
I arrived on the site very soon afterwards, but found that the Rescue party had returned to their Depot. I contacted a police constable, two soldiers and a warden and from information gained from these people I found that all persons in the vicinity had been accounted for.
There was a little doubt about a girl who was supposed to be a member of the A.T.S. as some of the people said that she had been recovered, and others said that a girl had been recovered but that she was not a member of the A.T.S.
Whether the girl was a member of the A.T.S. or not, I could not find out, but I could account for 18 persons out of 21, and knew that there were either two or three persons dead so I visited the mortuary and in conversation with Mr. Sykes cleared up the situation, three bodies being in the mortuary from this incident.
The Rescue party rescued one person alive and recovered two bodies. Soldiers, police and wardens uncovered another body and the Rescue party dealt with it from then.
In all, one person was recovered alive and three bodies were recovered.’
Return to the write-up of the Baedeker Raid on York here.