Secrets and techniques of the “Leeds Blitz” revealed earlier than the eightieth anniversary
The exact places of the explosive bombs that fell on Leeds in its worst airstrike in WWII have been mapped for the very first time by a workforce of scholars from Leeds Beckett College (LBU).
The precise websites and tales of those bombs will be seen at new internet pages, which embody an interactive map, which launched forward of the raid’s eightieth anniversary this weekend.
25 tons of explosives have been dropped on the town on March 14, 1941 concentrating on the gasoline factories and industrial areas surrounding the Aire River, however the bombs broken many different vital websites, together with the city corridor, the museum of the town, the phone change and in addition individuals’s properties. The raid brought on greater than 100 critical fires, broken greater than 4,500 buildings and resulted within the deaths of 65 individuals.
Though formally too small to qualify for “ Blitz ” standing (which is outlined as 100 tons of explosives), the town was shelled by incendiary and explosive bombs in two waves of assaults through the night time and the early hours of the subsequent morning.
Amongst these affected was the British Petroleum depot on Yarn Avenue in Hunslet, which was hit by three explosive bombs; a provide hose was broken ensuing within the lack of 5,000 gallons of gas oil. Varied premises on Marshall Avenue in Holbeck have been affected, together with the Leeds Industrial Co-operative Society (LICS) warehouse; in addition to the Campbell Stewart & McDonald manufacturing facility on Ingram Street in Holbeck; and a residential property on Rowland Street in Beeston Hill.
The workforce from the College of Cultural and Human Research labored on a “Public Historical past Venture” module to discover completely different points of the raid and recognized the precise websites of many beforehand unlocated bombs.
The challenge was a partnership with Leeds Museums and Galleries, Leeds Native and Household Historical past Library and the West Yorkshire Archives Service.
Utilizing a spread of main and secondary sources starting from secret house safety stories to educational texts, the Leodis photographic archives, genealogical databases and historic maps, the LBU Group has tried to uncover the total historical past of what had occurred that night time.
Additionally they targeted on the impact of harm on the morale and heroism of civilians, with these themes balancing standard curiosity and historic context whereas respecting and remembering these concerned. Lots of the tales studied occurred in locations which are nonetheless recognizable as we speak.
Lecturer in public historical past, Dr Henry Irving oversaw the challenge and stated its realization throughout an unprecedented world pandemic meant the work took on added significance:
“Though not as closely bombed as different locations, we’ve got all been struck by the little writing on Leeds. I am actually proud that we have been in a position to replace the West Yorkshire Archive Service bomb map, which exhibits precisely the place the varied bombs have landed.
“College students additionally labored to hyperlink particular person incidents to these affected, including particulars in regards to the legacy of the raid. I must also say that the topic was fairly touching – and naturally we needed to do all of this whereas going through the lockdown!
One of many teams engaged on the Leeds Blitz challenge targeted on wartime ladies’s lives, which resonated with English and historical past pupil Leanne Speight. Leanne recollects tales of her personal great-grandmother who labored in a munitions manufacturing facility, a lot of which are sometimes little mentioned:
“She was one of many lots of of hundreds of ladies throughout Britain who did ‘their half’ and it was clear that she noticed her contribution as nothing out of the unusual. However collectively, the ladies achieved one thing extraordinary, shattering gender stereotypes to step into historically male roles when the nation wanted it most.
“We see clear examples of the braveness proven by ladies like my grandmother within the face of enemy motion within the air raid on Leeds. Stories subsequently launched present that girls are fast to combat fires attributable to firebombs, even when excessive explosives fall close by. Many of those ladies have labored in roles the place such actions wouldn’t have been anticipated of them. “
Along with an awesome studying final result for the group, BA historical past college students Bradley Danahar and Megan Visitor, hope the challenge may also assist and encourage most of the people:
“If individuals may also be taught from the useful resource that the group has created, it will likely be a implausible outcome! We additionally hope that higher understanding the occasions of 80 years in the past may encourage individuals to assist these in want proper now, at one other time after we all want to come back collectively.
This text relies on a press launch issued by Leeds Beckett College
Picture credit: Leodis photographic archives which kindly supplied photographs to accompany this story.