World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Alan Beech 

A near miss for the Tower

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Alan Beech, Marion and Leslie Beech, Mr and Mrs Sissons
Location of story: Blackpool
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Katherine Wood of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Mr. Alan Beech.

A Near Miss for the Tower

It was the summer of 1941 and my parents, Marion and Leslie Beech, had decided to take a week's holiday in Blackpool. I am their son Alan and at the time, was 8 years old and although the war had been in progress for almost two years, it seemed very far away from us in New Houghton, a small mining village on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire Border.

It seemed a lot closer in Blackpool, although it was not due to enemy action. It began one afternoon with a mock gas attack. We all had to wear our gas masks for a short period of time, until the all clear was sounded. As the masks were being packed away we heard a man swearing loudly. Looking round we could see why. He was a member of the RAF and his left hand had been badly injured by a piece of metal that had fallen from an aircraft that had collided with another, almost over Blackpool Tower. Luckily the wreckage missed the Tower, but a lot of it fell on the Central Station, killing 17 people at the rear of the Blackpool-Nottingham train and demolished most of the forecourt. I cannot remember if there were any more deaths, but suspect there must have been.

The next day we left our hotel, owned by Mr and Mrs Sissons, and walked to the seafront to watch the aircraft engines being removed from the beach. They had gone down into the sand quite a few feet.

I am now 72 years old and vividly remember the things I have written about. Unfortunately there are several things about this episode that I cannot remember, probably because I have never seen or heard anything concerning this tragic incident since it happened. However the 5000 people reportedly in the Tower at the time of the incident who are alive, will remember what a close call they had that day in 1941.