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Historic papers from Altrincham Urban District Council reveal details of the rescue operation at Oakfield Road, Altrincham
The devastation caused by the bomb to houses at the corner of Oakfield Road and Moss Lane. Photo courtesy of Trafford Local Studies Centre
MORE than 70 years ago, Altrincham was rocked by a devastating explosion during the Blitz.
Families were ripped apart and destroyed when a bomb fell on houses at the corner of Oakfield Road and Moss Lane, on December 23, 1940.
Twelve people - including four children - died in the bomb blast.
Messenger has been peeling back the pages of history to uncover the stories behind that grim statistic...
SEVENTY-year-old town hall documents reveal details of the rescue operation that swung into action after the explosion.
They report that the rescue efforts were suspended early the following morning because it was believed there was no hope of finding any more survivors.
The minutes of the Altrincham Urban District Council emergency committee show that the call for a rescue party was made at 8.27pm, and more help was requested an hour later.
The report is by an unnamed official from the suveyors' department and is dated January 1, 1941.
The official was impressed by the rescue operation: "I have nothing but the highest praise for the manner in which everyone worked and the excellent spirit which was shown in dealing with a difficult and dangerous incident."
The official returned shortly before 3am to make another inspection after receiving "a report that all living persons had been removed from the premises."He continued: "As a result of this inspection I instructed the men to cease work and return to the depot.
"I wish to make ir clear now, that I take full responsibility for a decision which I took with the greatest possible reluctance, but it was obvious that any persons trapped inside could not possibly be alive."
The rescue operation resumed as soon as it was light and another body was recovered.
On Wednesday - Christmas Day - seven more bodies were recovered. The report said that "it was obvious they must have died instantaneously as a result of the bomb explosion."
He reveals, though, that five members of the rescue party were taken to hospital on the night of December 23 with coal gas poisoning, as a result of working in the basement.
Lifelong Altrincham resident Eric Woodward, aged 84, of Green Lane, Timperley - whose cousin's family was wiped out by the explosion - said he had always believed the victims died from gas poisoning.
As Messenger reported recently, the diaries of Lord Stamford record there were three survivors rescued from the debris.
The 12 people who died in the explosion were: Gladys Sanders, aged 28, Kenneth Sanders, aged two, Peter Sanders, aged 43, all at 43 Moss Lane; Annie Clark, aged 41, Florence Fairbank, aged 37, June Fairbank, aged 11, Edwin Jenyons, aged 60, all at 89 Oakfield Road; Margaret Carney, aged 36, Annie Hough, aged 33, David Hough, aged two, Allan Hough, aged five, all at 91 Oakfield Road; Henrietta Barker, aged 66, at 87 Oakfield Road.
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