Operation Hurricane

Operation Hurricane

Operation Hurricane

In an entry on this site (http://goo.gl/StTPGL), I wrote about how a couple of my cousins died as civilians during the Sheffield ‘Operation Crucible’ Blitz of 1940. In contrast, in this entry, I write about how three of my German cousins died as civilians during World War II. To set the background as to how I lost English and German cousins in World War II, I’ll explain that through the paternal side of my family, my ancestry can be traced back to Rhineland in Prussia (now Germany). My second great grandfather, Johann Mölleken, came to England with his family circa 1860.

My second cousin, twice removed is called Emilie Mölleken and she was born in 1906 in Hiesfeld, Dinslaken, Rheineland, Prussia. In 1932, she married Friedrich Gerhard Van Laak. Together, they issued three children called Fritz (born 1932), Erwin (born 1934) and Heinz-Dieter (born 1937).

Friedrich Gerhard Van Laak owned a house painting and pharmacy business in Hiesfeld. With tax-payer’s money during World War II, the basement of this store was developed into an air raid shelter. This basement therefore always had to be accessible.

Hiesfeld

Hiesfeld

In the early hours of 14th October 1944, the Royal Air Force launched a massive 1000 bomber air raid, codenamed ‘Operation Hurricane’ on the German city of Duisburg in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The route of the bombers took them over Hiesfeld. At 08:46, Hiesfeld air defence made a direct hit on a four engined Avro Lancaster heavy bomber flying in at 52,000 meters altitude. Consequently, a second Avro Lancaster was also affected. The two bombers were due to hit the Hiesfeld air defence and their numbers were NF928 and JB297.

A reporter filmed this event out of another aeroplane. Because of the great quantity of bombs and the half full tanks of fuel that the bombers were carrying, the force of the explosions ripped the bombers apart and the cascading large and small debris scattered for miles in and around Hiesfeld. Several witnesses described how aeroplane and body parts fell from the smoke filled sky. Fires broke out across the entire of Hiesfeld. This was followed by sporadic bomb explosions. Several unexploded bombs also scattered around aimlessly. At several points dead Avro Lancaster crew members were found with unopened parachutes still on their backs.

Avro Lancaster

Avro Lancaster

The Van Laak store was hit by falling aircraft debris and was completely destroyed by subsequent fire. In the air raid shelter underneath the store were twenty three civilians, all of which were killed. A fire-fighter, who was recovering the bodies there, reported that the lungs of the causalities were burst due to the huge explosion and pressure wave. They were found with bloody foam at the mouth but otherwise, their bodies were unharmed. The shelter did not collapse and so all of the causalities were found, still sat down. The inputs and outputs of the air raid shelter were filled in, during the explosion. Paint buckets caught fire and exploded which hampered the rescue attempts.

Near to the Van Laak store was a greengrocer’s store and people had gone to buy cabbage that morning. Once the air raid sirens sounded, the people fled into the Van Laak air raid shelter.

Sadly, Emilie and two of her children (my third cousins), Erwin and Heinz-Dieter were killed in the blast. Their eldest child, Fritz (still alive at the time of writing) survived because he was in School.

All 14 crew members of NF928 and JB297 were recovered and buried in the cemetery of Dinslaken. In 1947, they were reburied in the Imperial Forest Cemetery of Kleve.

Special thanks are owed to my cousin, Hermann Mölleken, who provided details of this tragic account.

Van Laak grave (www.moelleken-genealogy.de)

In a twist, the granddaughter of my second great grandfather (Johann Mölleken) was killed as a result of German bombing in Liverpool in 1941. Her name is Hilda Augusta Tudball (nee Köhler) and is my first cousin, twice removed. Unfortunately, Hilda does not seem to appear in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database (yet) but thanks are owed to her granddaughter, Victoria Carr, for informing me of how she died.

Further information regarding the Mollekin/Mölleken family can be found at http://www.mollekin.net/molleken and http://www.moelleken-genealogy.de A full list of currently known war dead in my family tree can be found at http://www.mollekin.net/familytree/war

Death of Mary Ann Marsden (nee Pinder)

Leeds Infirmary

Leeds Infirmary

In July 2009 after meeting a distant cousin, I learnt that my 2 x great aunt, Mary Ann Pinder, died as a result of a boiler explosion. Because Mary didn’t seem to reveal her true age on Census Returns, trying to find a corresponding death entry was difficult. Mary married Sam Marsden in Rotherham in 1895 and below is a newspaper entry pertaining to her death.

THE YORKSHIRE POST. WEDNESDAY. April 16. 1913.

FIVE DEATHS AT AN INFIRMARY.

Five deaths at the Leeds Infirmary were investigated by the City Coroner (Mr. J. C. Malcolm) at the Town Hall yesterday.

Three of the cases were the results of burning accidents, and the victims were Harry Haigh Fern, two years of age, of 11, Parsonage View, Leeds; Reginald Fletcher, aged three years, of 1, Tennyson Street, Pudsey; and Mary Ann Marsden (48), wife of the caretaker at the Girls’ High School, Headingley Lane, Leeds. The clothing of the two children caught fire while they were playing with matches, and in the case of Mrs. Marsden her blouse was set alight at a gas stove. Verdicts of “Accidental death” were returned in each case.

Jas. Alderson, aged 10 years, of 7, Dalmeny Terrace, Rodley, fell a distance of seven and a half feet from a warehouse “landing” whilst at play on Saturday. He died from hemorrhage caused by the injuries. The jury agreed that the boy’s death was accidental. Frederick George Sales (53), out porter, of 4, Wharfedale Street, Leeds, died whilst under anaesthetic. The jury concurred with the doctor’s statement that an operation was necessary in consequence of internal injuries, and returned a verdict that death was due to misadventure.

Work places in Swinton, South Yorkshire

Waddington's boat yard

Waddington’s boat yard

Here are details of past and present work places in Swinton, South Yorkshire:-

C.T. BUTTERFIELD & SONS LIMITED – This business can be traced back to 1874 and was started by John Butterfield who was born in 1849 and set off in the wheel and wagon works trade. To supplement his income, John began making coffins etc. As a result of circumstances resulting from World War One, the business was left to John’s son, Charles Thompson Butterfield, to run. It is in this era that the business began to concentrate on Undertaking as its core business. The business is currently based on Wood Street and has connections to this site dating back to the 19th Century. The business is still family owned and is in its fifth generation.

COAL MINING – Although mining had been taking place in the area for hundreds of years, it was not until the 19th Century that it really took off. Small mines were established at Warren Vale and Swinton Common but mining in the area became a massive concern with the opening of Manvers Main Colliery in 1870 and Wath Main in 1875. These two coal mines resulted in a population explosion in Swinton and provided employment for thousands of men for over one hundred years until their demise in the 1980s.

BOAT YARD AND DEARNE & DOVE CANAL – In the 18th Century, Swinton was the junction of the Dearne & Dove canal. Boat building was first started in 1770 and carried on by Thomas Scholey and present day, E.V. Waddington. The canal ran for nine miles from Swinton to Hoyle Mill. Due to reduced demand and infrastructural maintenance difficulties, much of the Swinton canal was filled in, in the 1960s.

DON POTTERY – The Don Pottery was founded at the very end of the 18th Century by the Green family of Leeds. In 1834, Samuel Barker purchased the business. The pottery ceased operating in 1893.

GLASS WORKS – Circa 1850, James Tillotson came to Swinton, from the Leeds area and established a glass works. These glass works would exchange hands in subsequent decades, notable owners being William Wilkinson and Dale and Brown & Company. The business was sold to United Glass in the early 1970s and finally to Canning Town Glass. The business was closed in 1988 with the loss of over 400 jobs.

HATTERSLEY BROTHERS LIMITED – Following the great Sheffield flood of 1864, Thomas and Charles Hattersley relocated their iron foundry at the end of Queen Street in 1864 and called the premises, Queens Foundry. These premises were demolished in 1936. The business was moved to much larger premises in 1869. These works provided employment for hundreds of Swinton people and produced stoves and grates.

JOHN BAKER & BESSEMER LIMITED – These Steel Works can be traced back to 1828. In 1863, the works were purchased by John Brown & Company of Sheffield at which time the works were known as Swinton Iron Works. John Baker purchased the works in 1903 and were renamed Kilnhurst Steel Works and began manufacturing component parts involving a Siemens Steel Melting Furnace. During the First World War, the company concentrated on shell forgings. In 1929, the company purchased 90% of the shares of Henry Bessemer & Company Limited, resulting in the changing of the works name again.

THE SWINTON COOKER WORKS OF THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY – This company was established at the end of World War Two. The Birmingham Cooker Works of the General Electric Company acquired a former munitions factory in Swinton. At its peak, the factory occupied some 24 acres, and employed 1200 people and exclusively produced electric cookers. The company was later acquired by Morphy Richards and is still in operation.

SWINTON POTTERY – For almost one hundred years, Swinton Pottery was one of the most important businesses of Swinton. Swinton Pottery was operational between 1745 and 1842. It was originally founded by Edward Butler. From 1787 it was operated by a company called, Greens, Bingley & Company. In 1806, the firm became Brameld & Company – John and William Brameld previously being partners in Greens, Bingley & Company. It was during the Brameld era that the company took on the name of the Rockingham Pottery and its products were sold all around the world. The Waterloo kiln is the only remaining kiln of the three originally built.

WARD & SONS – This business was situated on Market Street and was originally called the Mineral Water & Bottling Industry. The business was started by Charles Jackson of Bridge Street and by A.& C. Derwent in Crossland Street in 1870 which became the Bala Water Company in 1874. WIlliam Ward established Mineral Water Works circa 1900. Ward & Sons began bottling ale for Bass and Worthington.

YORKSHIRE TAR DISTILLERS – In 1886, Henry Ellison of Cleckheaton purchased four acres of land. This firm became known as Ellison & Mitchell Limited and distilled tar. In 1927, the important tar distillers amalgamated to form the Yorkshire Tar Distillers Limited. The Kilnhurst works expanded from four acres to thirty acres and a quantity of tar being distilled increased by five times. In later years the company was acquired by Croda and operated until circa 2000.

Public Houses in Swinton, South Yorkshire

Travellers Rest

Travellers Rest

Here are details of past and present Public Houses in Swinton, South Yorkshire:-

BOWBROOM W.M.C. – The current building was built in the 1960s, replaced an earlier wooden structure, and closed for business in February 2012.

BUTCHERS ARMS – The current early 1970s structure replaced an earlier low ceiling 19th Century building which was further forward, close to Station Street.

CAFE SPORT – This building was built in 1929 and was originally a cinema. It became a gym and bar in the 1980s.

CRESSWELL ARMS – The current structure was built in the 1940s having replaced at least one earlier building.

DALE BROWN SOCIAL CLUB – This club was connected to the Dale and Brown glass works that was located nearby. This club closed 1995/1996 and the snooker tables were sold to Bowbroom W.M.C. The club buildings have since been demolished. Football is still played on the sports ground which was connected to the club.

DON HOTEL – This 19th Century Public House closed for business in early 2010 and it is planned to convert it into residential accommodation.

GAPING GOOSE – Also known as the Swan with Two Necks, this was a Coaching Inn but was eventually converted into a house. Families called Jenkinson and Kemp lived here. It was demolished in the early years of the 20th Century.

MEDIEVAL PUB – This was close to the Norman Chapel and perhaps the oldest of all Swinton Inns which dated back to the medieval times.

MINERS ARMS – This pub was located at 87 Fitzwilliam Street and on the 1901 Census was occupied by Joseph Purcell and his family.

PLANT HOTEL – This early 20th Century Public House closed for business early in 2011.

RED HOUSE – This Public House was named as such due it being a regular for the nearby glass blowers. In the 2000s, its named changed to Bridge Bar and closed for business in early 2012.

ROBIN HOOD – This early 20th Century building appears to have replaced an earlier structure named the, Robin Hood & Little John Inn.

SHIP INN – This mid 18th Century structure was built in the shape of a ship. It closed for business in 2009 and was purchased by Rotherham Council in 2009. Demolition is planned for April 2012.

STONE HOUSE – This 19th Century structure was originally a retail outlet and was converted into a modern bar in 2004.

TOW PATH – This 19th Century Public House was renamed, the Canal Bar in the early 1990s. It was closed for business in 2004 and was demolished circa 2006. It is now the site of modern residential accommodation.

TRAVELLERS REST – This structure dates back to the 19th Century but was considerably extended in the mid to late 20th Century.

Notable residences in Swinton, South Yorkshire

Swinton Hall

Swinton Hall

Here are details of past and present notable residences in Swinton, South Yorkshire:-

THE BEECHES – This was a three storey 19th Century house. In 1901 and 1911, John William Hattersley and his family are occupying this house.

BROOKFIELD HOUSE – This house was located on Fitzwilliam Street and on the 1891 Census was occupied by Charles Hawley and his family.

CLIFFIELD HOUSE – This house is located on Station Street. It was converted into a residential home for the elderly a number of years ago. Recently, the house was bought by a different company and renamed to Swinton Grange. In 1891, Cliffield House was the home of Isaac Widdop who was an Iron Works Manager.

GRENO HOUSE – In the 1870s, Thomas Hattersley (one of the founders of the Queens Foundry on White Lee Road) arranged for Greno House to be built on Fitzwilliam Street. Greno House was still occupied by the Hattersley family as late as the 1950s.

HIGHFIELD HOUSE – This house was built on Fitzwilliam Street. Thomas Brameld, a partner in he Rockingham Pottery, lived here. After the death of Thomas, Swinton Council purchased the house and used it for their offices. The house and gardens disappeared circa 1980 and is now the site of Highfield Court. On the 1891 Census, Frederick Harrop and his family are living here.

MILTON HOUSE – This was built and situated on Milton Street. Remains of this house can still be seen in the boundary wall.

MIRFIELD COTTAGE – This cottage is an 18th Century cottage located on Fitzwilliam Street and is believed to be the oldest building in Swinton still standing.

OLD HALL – This building incorporated a 16th Century structure and it is alleged that King John’s butler lived here and that King John himself slept here when journeying through the area. In 1881, this is house is occupied by Richard Hattersley and his family.

ROCK HOUSE AND HARROP GARDENS – Rock House in Station Street was originally the home of E.T. Harrop. In 1932, this house was purchased by Swinton Council and for a time used for educational and child welfare purposes. The misses Harrop gave the grounds of the house to the Council with the intention of them being used by the old people of Swinton. In the 1960s, this house and the gardens were removed to make way for Swinton Precinct and for municipal buildings.

SWINTON HALL – This is an early 19th Century house. Like Swinton House, Swinton Hall was the home to notable Swinton families including the Brameld family. In the latter half of the 20th Century, it was converted into luxury flats. On the 1891 Census, James White, a Corn Miller, is living here with his family. By the 1911 Census, Joseph Bower is living here with his family.

SWINTON HOUSE – This is an 18th Century stone building and was the home of a few notable families before becoming a club for Colliery management and is now a private club.

Religious locations in Swinton, South Yorkshire

Saint Margarets Church

Saint Margarets Church

Here are details of past and present religious locations in Swinton, South Yorkshire:-

BRUNSWICK METHODIST CHURCH – This 19th Century Church closed circa 2010. During 2012/2013, it was converted into a private residence.

THE NORMAN CHAPEL – Swinton’s first Church was a chapel of ease to Wath and was built in the 12th Century. When the present day Saint Margarets’ was built in 1816, this chapel was demolished. However, John Brameld of Rockingham Pottery saved the chancel arch of this chapel and the doorway and it was re-erected in the vicarage field to the rear of Saint Margaret’s Church. Much of this has since crumbled and has been taken down and buried. Repair work was carried out on the remaining stonework circa 2004.

SAINT JOHN’S CHURCH – This Church on Station Street was built in 1856 and rebuilt in 1910.

SAINT MARGARET’S CHURCH – Saint Margaret’s Church was designed by Mr. Pritchard of York at a cost of around £6,000. Earl Fitzwilliam of Wentworth paid for most of this cost. Saint Margarets’ and the adjoining Churchyard were consecrated on 15th June 1817. Sadly, in 1897, there was a devastating fire in the Church – the tower being the only feature to be saved. The rest of the Church was subsequently rebuilt in a larger form which reopened in 1898.

SAINT MICHAELS AND ALL ANGELS CHURCH – This opened in 1901 on White Lee Road and was the result of a long campaign headed by the Reverend Levett. This Church, although fully operational, was never actually fully completed and was demolished some time in the 1960s.

SWINTON BRIDGE STREET METHODIST CHURCH – This Church opened in 1969 and was rebuilt in 1904 due to increased congregation sizes. Sadly, this Church was demolished in 1969.

ZION CHAPEL – This Chapel was located on White Lee Road.

Miscellaneous locations in Swinton, South Yorkshire

Swinton from Mexborough

Swinton from Mexborough

Here are details of miscellaneous locations in Swinton, South Yorkshire:-

BUTTER CROSS – The Butter Cross would have provided a meeting place and a location to trade goods. The actual cross was probably destroyed in the 16th or 17th Centuries and all that survives is a plinth and a base. It was moved from its original location of Chapel Hill to the Church and finally back to Chapel Hill again in 2004 when a new cross was added in an attempt to recreate how it perhaps had originally looked.

PEACE GARDENS – These were opened in the 1980s on the site of the Rookery.

ROMAN RIG – Although originally believed to be of Roman origin, it is now thought that this earthworks which runs from near Wincobank, via Swinton, to Mexborough was either built by the Brigantian tribes in the 1st Century A.D. against the Roman invasion or after the 5th Century to defend the kingdom of Elmet from the Angles. Although this rig/ridge/dyke runs through the whole of Swinton, perhaps the best example of it can be viewed in the Chain Bar Plantation.

SHARPLEY’S FARM – This was located on Chapel Hill but demolished when St Johns Road was constructed. Tom Sharpley dealt in Dairy farming.

WAR MEMORIAL – This was constructed in 1921 and was designed by Sir Reginald Bloomfield.

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