Tweet in time back to Leeds blitz

Police testing for poison gas.
Police testing for poison gas.
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A UNIQUE time-travel experience back to the dark days of the Second World War when death and destruction rained down from West Yorkshire skies is being provided on Twitter.

In a tie-up between West Yorkshire’s Archive Service and police, tweeters can now recall and experience something of those days when the Air Raid Protection (ARP), police and fire services worked together to help residents cope with bombing.

In a day-by-day diary format, tweeters can review the incidents that befell the cities and towns of the West Riding between February 1941 and the final year of the war.

Using precious photographs of those shocking events, maps and details of events logged by those emergency and civil defence services, a picture of wartime West Yorkshire is being assembled so that subsequent generations can realise what their parents and grandparents endured.

A special focus this week is the night of Friday, March 14, 1941, 9.10pm, when an air raid alert sounded and Leeds was the chief target of German bombers.

That night across the city 65 people were killed or fatally injured and around 4,600 houses were damaged along with Kirkgate Market, the Town Hall and the Museum.

More than 4,000 wardens and 1,800 fire crew were on hand to assist the public.

But it was not just Leeds that was hit. Much of the central West Riding was attacked between 9pm and 3am, including Huddersfield and Castleford where industrial sites such as David Brown Tractors, Hickson and Welch chemical works and Ferrybridge Power Station were targeted.

Around 160 separate incidents were logged in one night.

In Wakefield, six people were killed when a bomb hit houses on Thornes Road. Hundreds of incendiary and high explosive bombs were dropped over towns and countryside and 30 unexploded bombs were reported across the county.

The unique archives held at Leeds and Wakefield Archives, accounts of incidents of that night from first hand witnesses vividly illustrate the scene and were displayed on Monday and Tuesday at Leeds Central Library yards from where a bomb fell on March 15, 1941.

A special exhibition was also displayed at Leeds Town Hall - which was also damaged that night - and at Leeds and Wakefield Archives.


PIC: Simon Hulme

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