Sheffielders can help tell story of Blitz

Searchlights sweep the sky at an event at the Moor Market last December to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Sheffield Blitz

Searchlights sweep the sky at an event at the Moor Market last December to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Sheffield Blitz

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A Star-backed project to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Sheffield Blitz is putting the call out for people to help gather final bits of knowledge to complete the story of the devastating attacks in December 1940.

Volunteers are being sought to research everything from personal accounts of the bombing raids to the story of the decoy sites dotted around the Sheffield area.

The decoy sites were designed to fool the Germans into bombing those targets rather than the city itself.

Nearly a 10th of Sheffield’s population was made homeless on December 12 and 15, 1940 with more than 2,000 people killed or wounded.

Thanks to National Lottery players a Sheffield Blitz Memorial Trail is being created to form the centrepiece of the two-and-a-half-year Heritage Lottery-funded project.

Up to 16 sites around the city centre have been earmarked for the installation of high-quality, permanent memorial plaques.

The project has received £81,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the backing of other organisations, including The Star.

The paper ran a campaign to help raise the money to ensure that the Blitz Memorial Trail project went ahead.

The paper’s aim was to help to honour all those Sheffielders whose lives were lost, as well as all the people who lived through those terrible days.

The volunteer research will play a key part in the work of telling the story of the Sheffield Blitz, as well as being used in a new book chronicling the build-up and the aftermath of the raids.

Project workers are working on gaining planning permissions for the trail while other work is going on to record the first-hand memories of survivors.

Neil Anderson, author of the book Sheffield’s Date With Hitler, who is leading the research, said: “We are after people with a keen interest in the Sheffield Blitz to help in this vital work. Training will be provided and we hope as many people as possible will come forward.”

Anyone interested should email their details to neil@neilandersonmedia.com

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Yorkshire and the Humber, Fiona Spiers, said: “The Second World War changed communities forever, not just due to the loss of life felt by both the military and civilians, but also due to the huge impact it had on our towns and cities.

“Communities were physically changed forever due to the devastating effects of the Blitz.

“This important project is documenting and commemorating these sacrifices, enabling communities to gain a deeper understanding of the far-reaching impacts of the conflict.”

The project has already received donations from Sheffield-born nightclub impresario Peter Stringfellow, Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary, The Moor, Atkinson’s store and scores of individuals.

It also has the backing of Sheffield City Council, Sheffield College, The National Emergency Services Museum, Sheffield 50 Plus, Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust and South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum.

The Sheffield Blitz 75th project is set to last over two years and will end on the anniversary of the last German raids on Sheffield in July 1942.