Second World War evacuee's Leeds 'blitz' memories

Schoolboy evacuee Mark Coleman will never forget his first trip back to Leeds from his safe refuge in the Yorkshire countryside.

For the youngster found himself in the middle of Leeds's biggest air raid of the Second World War.

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Now his memories of that night of terror have been revived by a Yorkshire Evening Post feature on the 70th anniversary of the raid of March 14-15 1941 which left 65 people dead.

His most vivid memory is of a bomb falling on York Road and blasting the Woodpecker pub.

Mr Coleman, now 77, of South View, Rothwell had been evacuated from his grandparents' on the Gipton estate as a six-year-old with his elder sister Sheila on September 1, 1939 – two days before war broke out.

He said: "We thought we were going for a day to the seaside, there I was with my gasmask."

The children were sent to Church Fenton, just half a mile from the runway of the RAF base and along the Leeds-Selby railway line.

The authorities then moved the brother and sister to Barkston Ash when they thought the Luftwaffe would target Church Fenton.

On March 14, 1941, he was allowed to visit his widowed father Patrick in Beckett Street – the very night the Germans targeted dozens of bombers over Leeds.

Mr Coleman recalled: "We heard a lot of noise, we weren't frigntened by the aircraft and became aware that a bomb came down on the Woodpecker pub, opposite St Patrick's Church near York Road. We then ran down into the cellar of our house."

Mr Coleman was able to return permanently to Leeds in 1943 once the air raid threat receded and worked as a quality assurance manager for the Yorkshire Copper Works at Stourton.

He added: "I have a clear picture of the pub being hit. It's amazing that I remember things like that from so long ago."

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