Air Raids

The first air raid siren in Peterborough was a hand operated one at the Police Station in Milton Street. Five electronic sirens were later set up, the others being at the Town Hall, Fox and Hounds public house at Longthorpe, the Baker Perkins factory at Westfield Road and Palmers Mill, Werrington.

The sirens were sounded in the city a total of 650 times during the Second World War. It is strange that Peterborough was chosen as a safe area for the evacuation of children from London because the city was among the first towns to have an air raid, this was on 8th June, 1940, when several small bombs fell on the city centre and some shops and the town swimming pool were damaged.

31st October 1940, the railway lines were machine gunned from a low flying enemy bomber. One man, Mr Harry Hewit, was wounded whilst aboard his train.

16th November 1940, high explosive bombs were dropped on Fletton, two houses were destroyed and thirty-one damaged. Mr Crowson, whose house was at 37, Queens Walk was taken to hospital. Houses were damaged in Queens Walk, Orchard Street, Park Street and London Road.

15th January 1941, high explosive bombs were dropped on the marshaling yards at New England, one man, Mr Geroge Ruff, was killed, and six were taken to hospital. In a sequel to this event, the workers returned to the nearby workshop after the raid and found a hole in the roof and one below it in the floor. Thinking this was an unexploded bomb they were once more evacuated from the site. When at last the Army had dug out the offending item, it was found to be a metal ‘chair’ which was used for fastening rails to sleepers.

10th May 1941, high explosive bombs were dropped on the area of Priestgate, two Fire Watchers where killed and three other people were taken to hospital from 6, Cross Street.

24th May 1941, high explosive bombs were dropped in the Towler Street and Burghley Road area. One house was demolished and six people were taken to hospital.

There was now a break in the raids and the next major one on the city did not take place until 30th June 1942. In this raid many incendiary bombs were dropped in the area of the North Station and St. Leonards Street. Among the buildings damaged were the Northern Hotel, George Hotel and the Ponys Head public house. One casualty was taken to hospital.

10th August 1942, at midnight two aircraft came over the city, one dropping flares and the other incendiary bombs. It was estimated that around 250 bombs were dropped, six fell on the Cathedral roof and thirty on the Town Hall. The picture house which stood on the site in Bridge Street now covered by the Marks & Spencer building, was out of action for four months.

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