The Spink Family

The raid on Leeds devastated some families. Unfortunately, the Spinks are one such case.

The family lived at the end of Pleasant Mount in Holbeck, a working class area to the south of Leeds city centre. On the night of the Leeds raid, the house was home to nine year old Freda, her one year old sister Valerie, and their 28 year old mother Annie. Freda and Valerie’s father, Walter, was serving in the army with the Green Howards.

An injured child in hospital during the blitz

Eileen Dune: a child injured during the Blitz in London (Imperial War Museum)

“In the aftermath of bombing, death was unavoidable: a rude awakening for young children to the idea of morality” (Clapson & Larkham, 2013, p. 22).

Sweet Street West and Holbeck Liberal Club in Holbeck

Sweet Street West and Holbeck Liberal Club in Holbeck on November 1945 after the war. (Leodis)

It is not entirely clear what happened during the raid. Fire records show that incendiaries caused a serious fire near to Pleasant Mount at just after midnight (Fire Report Log Books, 1941). There are no confirmed records of further bombs, but at some point the Spinks’ house must have been hit by an incendiary or high explosive. Freda and Valerie were both killed and their mother was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary before dying of her injuries a few hours later (Alphabetical List of Air Raid Casualties, 1941).

The family’s deaths are recorded in a list of Air Raid Casualties held by the Leeds Local Studies Library and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists the property as place of injury or death. The address is not listed on the Leeds Fire Log, suggesting that this was the result of a high explosive blast, although their house stood on the site until the 1960s.

The Green Howards

The fate of the Spinks shows how bombing transformed the division between home and fighting fronts (Grayzel, 2012).

Walter Spink appears to have survived the Second World War. We do not know for certain which battalion he was in as he was one of four Walter Spinks to serve with the Green Howards, but the Green Howards Museum believe it was most likely the 5th which served in France and North Africa. There are no records for similar names in the Commonwealth War Graves database.

This podcast has more information about the Green Howards and the role the regiment played in the Second World War.

Video: The Green Howards in Norway - The Battle of Otta 28 April 1940