- The Leeds Blitz
- Bomb Map
Women found themselves on the front line throughout the raid on Leeds.
Leeds General Infirmary
One of the first high explosive bombs to hit the city fell on the emergency receiving department of the LGI. The bomb destroyed the entrance, caused a gas leak and flooded a basement air raid shelter where many nurses had taken cover. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
Despite the bomb scare, doctors and nurses worked through the night. They treated existing patients and took in those who had been injured during the air raids. The matron of the LGI, speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, exclaimed that ‘everyone had been magnificent’ (Yorkshire Evening Post, 15 March 1941, p. 6)
Women from various parts of the city ended up in the LGI due to injuries sustained in the bombing. The LGI Air Raid In-Patients book lists fifty-nine people who were admitted through the early hours with injuries ranging from burns to shock (WYAS Catalogue, 2011).
Did you know?
The Brotherton Wing at the LGI opened in 1940, so was only a year old when the hospital was hit by a bomb.
Belle Vue Road
Homes on the boundary between Little Woodhouse and Burley Lodge found themselves on the front line during the raid on Leeds. A ‘stick’ of high explosive bombs destroyed properties on Belle Vue Road and neighbouring Rosebank View, killing six of the residents.
At 93 Belle Vue Road, Lily Sheriff and her husband Thomas Edward were killed when their home was destroyed by a direct hit. The explosion also killed Mary Burke, who lived with the Sheriffs, and James Ward, a neighbour.
Another bomb fell immediately behind Belle Vue, destroying a row of blind back terraces on Rosebank View. The bomb killed Mary and George Barnett, who lived at number 83, and seriously injured the inhabitants of number 81.
The aircraft that dropped the bombs may have been drawn to the area by fires caused by incendiaries at the nearby Arthur & Co. factory. Fire records show that the Auxiliary Fire Service attended a serious blaze at the factory at 1.10am.
Numbers 91-95 Belle Vue Road and 81-85 Rosebank View were demolished after the raid and were never rebuilt. Local residents report enjoying bonfires in the gaps where the house once stood in the following years (Rhodes, 2014). The surrounding area was demolished for redevelopment in the 1970s and the student accommodation IconInc is now located close to where the bombs fell.
Did you know?
By 1941, the Auxiliary Fire Service had recruited 20,000 female firefighters (Fire Brigades Union, 2017).
Lily Sheriff and her husband Thomas Edward Sheriff were killed when a bomb directly hit their house at 93 Belle Vue Road. Lily and Thomas are commemorated in Commonwealth war graves in Harehills Cemetery alongside three other casualties of the air raid. As a mark of respect, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Alderman W. Withey, and other civic officials attended the burial and service. Commemorative wreaths were presented at the funeral by the Leeds Air Raid Precaution controller and the Emergency Committee. The coffins were draped in the Union Flag, a tradition usually reserved for the funerals of a military veterans (Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 1941). This shows that civilian casualties were viewed as heroes by the Leeds local authority and given a funeral in accordance with this, despite pressures from the government to cut funeral costs (Rugg, 2004). In total there were 65 casualties of the Leeds Blitz, they are commemorated in war graves across the city (CWGC, 2020).
Lily and Thomas Edward Sheriff were buried at Harehills Cemetery and are commemorated on a Commonwealth War Graves memorial at the site.
As a mark of respect, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Alderman W. Withey, and other civic officials attended the burial and service. Commemorative wreaths were presented at the funeral by the Controller of Civil Defence and on behalf of the Emergency Committee. The Sheriffs’ coffins were also draped in the Union Flag, a tradition usually reserved for military funerals (Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 1941).
These actions show that civilian casualties were viewed as heroes during the Second World War, despite pressures from the government to cut funeral costs (Rugg, 2004). The 65 casualties of the Leeds raid are commemorated in war graves across the city (CWGC, 2020).
Did you know?
There are 327 war graves at Harehills Cemetery. 324 are for Commonwealth casualties of the First and Second World Wars, and the other 3 graves commemorate the war dead of other nationalities (CWGC, 2020).