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Leeds in World War II

Bombs and Air Raids

Leeds suffered several bombing raids during the course of the war. The house seen here was bombed during the raid of April 1941, and illustrates the very random nature of bombs. See how neatly the house has been sliced in two! The damaged part was later rebuilt to match its original appearance down to the last brick.

People who had been made homeless by the bombs would be temporarily housed in nearby community centres, such as church halls or, if they were lucky, went to stay with friends or relatives. If their houses had sustained slight damage, they would be repaired as soon as possible, so that the occupants could go back home.

During the bombing raid of August 1940, a block of corporation flats was damaged, and the head of the Corporation Housing Department expressed great satisfaction at how well they had withstood the blast. He said ' Close examination shows little, if any, damage to the superstructure'.

This damage to Leeds Town Hall was done in the so-called Quarter Blitz of 15 March 1941. This was one of the worst raids suffered by the city. The newspapers however, were very secretive about which towns had been hit, simply referring to 'A North East inland town'. This was no doubt due to the strict censorship that was in force at the time. The press was at pains to emphasise what a magnificent job the fire brigade and the AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) had done, bringing the fires under control in remarkably short time. Whether this was true or not we don't know, but even if it wasn't, the best possible spin was always put on these reports, so as to boost the morale of the beleaguered civilians.

The report (from the YEN), goes on to describe how the public and their rescuers were laughing and smiling throughout their ordeal. A German communiqué at the time claimed attacks on Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Tilbury Docks, Plymouth and Southampton.

The staircase shown in this photo is still standing, although a large part of the Town Hall had to be rebuilt following the bombing.

The windows and roof of this semi on Easterly Road have been damaged by the blast, which occurred during the raid of 1 September 1940. Officials and Air Raid Wardens are inspecting the site. The houses would have been repaired as soon as possible, so that the householders could move back in.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Leeds Library and Information Service | 

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