Cornwall

Cornwall's Blitz memories

Plymouth after the Blitz
Image caption The Blitz fires could be seen in mid Cornwall

The destruction of Plymouth 70 years ago in the Blitz left the city shattered and with no option other than to rebuild.

As with so many other disaster scenes, whether natural or man-made, the clean up was crucial to the process of starting again.

For Plymouth, that meant removing the thousands of tonnes of rubble.

Goss Moor in mid Cornwall played its part in the work.

When the blitz on Plymouth reached its height, on a clear night the glow from the fires could be seen in the sky near the moor.

Local historian, Ken Rickard from St Dennis near St Austell, was nine years old in 1941. He remembers the area being very busy just after the attacks on Plymouth.

He said: "The local railway line was always busy bringing down the rubble from Plymouth. Every day we had a train of about ten or so trucks.

"The empty carriages would go back and the next day they would return again. That carried on for many years."

"There was thousands and thousands of tonnes brought down to Goss Moor. It was peoples' home. The rubble was shovelled into trucks and brought down here."

In 1941 the Goss Moor area itself was bombed by the German Luftwaffe on two occassions.

The moor was directly below the bombers' flight path as they flew to their targets of St Eval, St Mawgan and St Merryn from their bases in France.

Image caption Rubble from Plymouth was moved to Goss Moor in Cornwall

The first proved harmless when at least four bombs were dropped between the Tin Mine pool and the Gasson pool.

However, the second occasion was very different.

Mr Rickard said: "As I approached the old primary school on my bicycle a German bomber dropped a 'stick' of bombs which fell each side of the A30 near Georgie Williams' shop, which was positioned halfway between the school and the Richards and Osborne garage.

"A cottage near the shop was damaged and its occupants, who had taken cover under the kitchen table, suffered cuts and bruises and one broken limb.

"Unfortunately more serious damage was inflicted across the road - a piggery belonging to Viv Smale, received a direct hit."

The building housed a large number of pigs and tractor fuel. It collapsed and caught fire, which resulted in pigs being killed or injured.

Many had to be put down the next day; very few survived. Because of the tractor fuel the building burned for two days.

Mr Rickard said: "My memories are of the smell, the noise from the injured pigs and the fire as I pushed my bicycle through the debris on the road, hugging the hedge for false security.

"No emergency services or help had arrived and my only thoughts were to get home as fast as I could.

"For a nine year-old boy this experience was traumatic to say the least."

Nearly 300 people died in the Blitz on Devon and Cornwall in March 1941.

One month later further attacks brought the toll to 590 deaths in the region.

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