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...

THE diaries of the Earl of Stamford reveal that three survivors were rescued from the wrecked houses on Oakfield Road.

Lord Stamford was the head warden in Altrincham and so played a central role in dealing with such incidents.

He was briefed after the explosion, surveyed the bomb damage and attended the funerals of those killed there.

On December 24, 1940 he said he went to a meeting of the Altrincham council emergency committee, where they were told about the explosion. Then he went to Oakfield Road and spoke to residents.

He again visited Oakfield Road - which he wrongly refers to as 'street' - on December 27.

He wrote: "I visited Oakfield Street where 12 dead people have been recovered from two or three cellars in the corner.

"Three people were brought out injured."

Although he does not give any details of survivors, one of these must have been Maud Jenyons, whose husband Edwin, aged 60, daughter Florence Fairbank, aged 37, and daughter June, aged 11, all died.

Messenger reported recently how a rescue party found a dog on a pram with a dead child, and Lord Stamford's diaries refer to this: "One little girl who was dead had her arm around a dog which was alive, although two if its legs were broken."

Although Lord Stamford mistakenly refers to a girl, the child was, in fact, a two-year-old boy.

Lord Stamford described attending the funerals on December 30: "In the afternoon I went to Altrincham Cemetery for the funeral of 11 of the victims of the air raid in Altrincham on December 23 - 24. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor were present.

"It was a wet afternoon and a cold wind was blowing. The scene was a most sad one."

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