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Mark’s History: West Leeds victims of wartime air raids

Words: Mark Stevenson

I had no intention of doing this as my article this week but I was reading some comments left by Heather Fisher on Leodis – a photographic archive of Leeds.

Heather’s comments are to do with the people of West Leeds who were killed in air raids over Leeds in WW2. One line reads: “I don’t think they should be forgotten” – and I thought we never really mention them, it just tends to be the men who went off to fight. 

Today: Model Road, Armley. Photo: Mark Stevenson

There were nine air raids on Leeds by the German Luftwaffe. The heaviest raid took place on the night of the 14th/15th March 1941. The city was subjected to other raids during the Second World War but they were relatively minor; only the March 1941 raid caused widespread damage, traces of which can still be seen in Town today.

Heather Fisher tells it better than I ever could so here is one of her comments that she left on Leodis:

“Regards Metcalf Street: Florence Dunn aged 47 was killed at 29 Metcalf Street on the night of the 15th of March 1941 during one of the many bombing raids on Leeds…

“This is a story related to me by Mum – as Florence was the Mum of two friends (sisters) of my Mum. The sisters had survived the raid and were left very badly injured. In fact, each lost a leg (as they had been sitting in front of the fire with their Mum when the bomb hit the house)… what was ironic my Mum said… was the fact that only weeks prior to this the Dunn family had moved into number 29 from across the street… .the reason for the move?  29 was in much better condition than the house they were living in (the house that they had vacated which was opposite did not have a scratch on it).

“One of the sisters from what my Mum also said went on to marry a young Sailor (who had lost both his legs in action). If I remember correctly this lady was called Norah and she met her future husband at the hospital (Artificial Limb Hospital in Leeds at that time) whilst receiving treatment for her injuries.

“Actually, this same bombing raid killed two other pals of my Mum down near the railway goods yards in Leeds and I think they should also be remembered – they were May Charlesworth (nee Dewhurst) aged 20   on the 15th of March 1941 was killed at 31 Grove Street, Leeds, WRY and her brother Vere Dewhurst aged 31 years on the 15th of March 1941 killed at 31 Grove Street, Leeds. The sad thing about May Dewhurst (her Soldier husband Jack came home on leave to marry her – then he came home to bury her) she never even got to see her wedding photo’s – Mum said she was buried in her wedding dress.

“According to Mum when they found the brother and sister there was not a mark on either of them  (May and her brother Vere who had been sheltering in the cellar) had died due to a fractured gas main after the house had been hit… the Dad survived as he had been on fire duty at the goods yard.”

Around 80 people lost their lives during nine air raids on Leeds. Below is a list of some of the civilians killed in the raids on West Leeds.

25 Aug 1940Brooks, Sarah Ann57 yrs70 Whitehall Rd, Leeds
25 Aug 1940Thompson, Charlotte Ann61 yrs72 Whitehall Rd, Leeds
25 Aug 1940Thompson, Rose21 yrs72 Whitehall Rd, Leeds
14 Mar 1941Sheriff, Lily58 yrs93 Belle Vue Rd, Leeds
14 Mar 1941Sheriff, Thomas Edward69 yrs93 Belle Vue Rd, Leeds
14 Mar 1941Thirkettle, Harry Vincent29 yrs10 Model Rd, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Beaumont, Arthur52 yrs16 Gloucester Rd, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Beaumont, Fanny51 yrs16 Gloucester Rd, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Bennett, George Albert Walter40 yrsRosebank Vw, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Bennett, Mary  Elizabeth32 yrsRosebank Vw, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Davis, Samuel35 yrsLeuty’s Mill, Armley, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Donaldson-sim, Ernest Alfred62 yrs64 Kirkstall Rd, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Dunn, Florence47 yrs29 Metcalf St, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Kay, Harry57 yrs68a Armley Rd, LeedsFirewatcher
15 Mar 1941Pitcock, Phoebe Louise60 yrs40 Willow St, Leeds
15 Mar 1941Smith, Elizabeth Ann68 yrsThornton St, Leeds
23 Jul 1942Bune, William Arthur50 yrsStanningley Rd, LeedsAir-Raid Precautions – Rescue
28 Aug 1942Grice, George20 yrsKirkstall Forge Ltd, Leeds
28 Aug 1942Shepherd, George Edward26 yrsKirkstall Forge Ltd, LeedsHome Guard
28 Aug 1942Sutherby, Walter46 yrsKirkstall Forge Ltd, LeedsHome Guard
28 Aug 1942Thompson, George Albert45 yrsKirkstall Forge Ltd, Leeds
23 Dec 1947Horsfall, FrankPudsey

1 COMMENT

  1. I agree it is a most admirable thing to do with all due consideration. It is poignant to me because my mother, then a teenager during the war lived directly across the road at number 32 with her mother and father May and Alan Bolton and May’s mother Sarah Falkingham. I well remember them telling me about it. Thank you.

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