World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                        Jean Fielding 

Memories of the Sheffield Blitz

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Jean Fielding
Location of story: Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Louise Treloar of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Jean Fielding.

I was almost 15 when the war broke out. It started on the 3rd September, and I was 15 at the end of September. I was still at school. On the first night, when war was declared, the sirens went and we all dashed to the shelters, but it was a false alarm. I was in Sheffield all through the war, and started nursing when I was 19.

We had Home Service at school. The teachers came round to houses and taught a variety of children, of all different ages, in people’s houses. This carried on until the Blitz. They were secondary school teachers, so they only really had their own subject. It must have been very difficult for them.

The Blitz was in 1940. It started at 7pm. Our house was damaged by a bomb, which fell three doors away. We weren’t in at the time. We were up at my grandparents' house in Millhouses. We all hid under the stairs. We could hear the bombs falling and see the fires over Sheffield. My father was still at work in the East End of Sheffield.

In the morning, my mum and I walked from Millhouses back to our house, which had been damaged. We couldn’t live in it, so we stayed with relatives until we could get a house. My father was a foreman in a steel works, and he walked home from there. There was no transport then, no trams or buses until later. My father saw a lot of bomb damage. We were very fortunate. All the centre of Sheffield had been very badly damaged – they were aiming for the Works.

This was a bad area for being bombed. A landmine was dropped near us once. A whole family was killed, apart from the daughter, who was out at the time. The church was not bombed, although there was blast damage to the roof. There was a mission hall down St Mary’s Road, that became a temporary church.

We had a lot of people killed in Sheffield. There was a pub near Fitzalan Square, called Marples. It took a direct hit once, and a lot of people were killed.

After the Blitz, water was brought round in a tanker. It was marvellous how things kept going. We had soup kitchens, set up in schools and churches, for people that had been bombed out. They were run by the WRVS, and they were badly needed. It was December, middle of winter, and very cold.

I worked in a bank when I first left commercial college, and then I went into nursing when I was 19. I wanted to go into the Wrens, but they weren’t taking anyone on. I didn’t want to go into the works, so I became a nurse. I was in nursing for 20 years.

I was at the Royal Hospital when the war ended. I remember a big crowd went down to Barkers Pool, with everyone dancing and singing. We hadn’t really had many forces war casualties. There was an annex at Fulwood, where Archibald MacIndoyre was, a famous skin specialist. We got quite a few of his casualties in the ‘plastic department’, and some head injuries.

My husband joined the Territorials just before the war. He was in West Africa for quite a long time. At the end of the war, when all the people in the forces were coming home, the vicar organised a dance for all the men and women, as a welcome home party. That’s where I re-met my husband (we knew each other at school), and we got together then, after the war.