I would like to thank local historian and author Neil Holmes for his contributions to Liverpool Picturebook, in particular for his latest series of articles which culminates today with this final chapter. I look forward to sharing more of his work with you in the future.
|A child sleeps in an air-raid shelter festooned |
with Christmas decorations,
a not uncommon sight in December 1940
Today's article is the final one of three, which deals with the devastation caused to Merseyside by the air raids that came to be known as the Christmas Blitz. Over the space of a week just before Christmas 1940, over 700 people were killed in the region, making that month the second deadliest on record. We now conclude that story, with the incidents of the third major night of that period.
The night of the 22nd/23rd December 1940
For the third consecutive night at this time in 1940, Merseyside was hammered with bombs. Some of the places hit in Liverpool include Medlock Street, Ensor Street and the St Anthony's School shelter, where 11 people died, two of them priests. Huskisson Dock and Canada Dock were also hit during the raid.
Bootle also came under attack, with Langton Dock and Alexandra Dock hit. Four high explosives were dropped on the town and landed in the following places:
1) Junction of Malvern Road and Markfield Road
2) Junction of Marsh Lane and Malta Road
3) Near to Carolina and Oregon Street
4) The railway near Kings Road, closing the line between Seaforth and Liverpool for several days
The photo above shows the damage done by the second of those bombs. The main focus of the wartime photograph is the shattered remains of a Welsh Baptist Chapel. Although not obvious on an image of this size, around the round window is written "Duw Cariad Yw" which stands for "God is Love"
Since the war the roads off this section of Marsh Lane have been swept away, leaving no trace of either the chapel or Malta Road. The original line of the road would have ran to the left of the houses, roughly where the gateposts are now. In their place the North Recreation Ground (also known as North Park) has been extended.
Wallasey was also struck again, although on this occasion only a few bombs were scattered across the borough, a welcome break that was somewhat surprising as there was still several fires from the previous night's raid burning fiercely, attracting the enemy's attention.
Crosby also came under attack again. Two high explosive bombs landed on Cambridge Road, one landed on Waterloo Road and no less than eight landed in fields in the Little Crosby area. A farm shed on Delph Road was also struck by high explosives, whilst around seven incendiaries landed "in woods".
The last act of this period was a report on the night of the 23rd/24th December of bombs landing in the river, opposite the Brunswick Half Tide Dock. Although they wouldn’t have known it at the time, the people of Merseyside could breathe a sigh of relief, for the next raid would not occur until the New Year. This would give the authorities time to rebuild and recover from a period that had stretched the resources to the limit.
The human cost as has been mentioned was terrible, with the totals coming to the following:
Liverpool: 412 killed, 382 injured
Birkenhead: 63 killed, 105 injured
Wallasey: 119 killed, 91 injured
Bootle: 108 killed, 93 injured
Crosby: 10 killed, 38 injured
For the family and friends of all these casualties (and for many others who were made homeless), the festive period was completely ruined. The impact of the December Blitz must have been felt throughout the region, and the loss of so many people should be remembered with great sadness.