Bomb Census Manchester: A Luftwaffe Raid On Chorlton

By Richard Moss
shows a sparsely drawn map with roads and a few identifying buildings

Above: a Manchester bomb tracing that provides a detailed record of four bombs that were dropped close to the railway line in the centre of Chorlton cum Hardy in Manchester. © National Archives.

Between July 1940 and June 1941 Manchester was subject to series of sustained and heavy Luftwaffe bombing raids. Key targets during this time were the city centre and vital war production areas such as the industrial park at Trafford.

However, the outlying suburbs of the city were also hit as shown by this raid that fanned out across the west and south of the city in the spring of 1941.

Chorlton, Hulme, Stretford, Salford and Swinton were all hit during these raids, which were individually plotted on maps and tracings by local ARP and defence volunteers.

shows a small piece of paper with blue inked writing on it attached to the corner of a map

A simple piece of paper clipped to the edge of the tracing records the date and time of the attack. © National Archives.

This example of the Manchester part of the bomb census covers the bombing of Chorlton cum Hardy and is not a map - but a 'tracing'. Tracings were taken by laying tracing paper over a local map and plotting the relevant information; such as roads, railway lines, factories and other buildings.

This tracing plots a single bombing raid on Chorlton cum Hardy, a heavily residential southern suburb of Manchester, on May 1 and 2, 1941. Four 250kg bombs are plotted.

shows a detail of a hand drawn maps with roads, railway line on it.

Above: the bombs can be clearly seen as landing either side of the railway line right in the centre of Chorlton. © National Archives.

Although you don’t get the mass of precise detail of a map-plotted bomb record, the tracing is easier to read, as only the relevant local information - such as the key locations of nearby roads, main roads and larger buildings or landmarks - are included.

The tracing plots four incidents that happened near the centre of Chorlton between 23.30 and 23.40. The two main roads, Wilbraham Road and Barlow Moor Road that intersect Chorlton, are clearly marked together with some local landmarks such as the Public Baths and Southern Cemetery.

shows a detail of a hand drawn map with bomb locations plotted on it.

Above: the tracing neatly deatils the time and size of bomb. © National Archives.

It would appear from the tracing that the key bombing target was the railway line – here marked as the Cheshire Lines Railway.

Four bomb locations are marked either side of the tracks. The first two, marked as ‘incident no.1’ and ‘incident no.2’ show the location of the 250kg bombs at 23.30. These fell on what is marked as ‘Cavendish Road’ which today is called Corkland Road - south of the intersection with Wilbraham Road on the corner of Chatfield Road (abutting the railway cutting). This is about 40 metres west of the the railway track.

shows a crop a traced map

A cropped detail of a bomb map. © National Archives.

Incident no. 3 and 4 are plotted as falling closer to their target – on the east bank of the railway cutting close to the bend in Egerton Road.

We have no record of the damage to the either the nearby housing (comprising of mainly Victorian terraced housing), or the railway line. A walk around the area today may still yield clues – differences in architectural styles and building materials are clear give away signs of WWII bomb damage.

Visit the main 24 Hour Museum VE Day index page to find out about Their Past Your Future Events and to explore World War Two-related resources - including trails, features, news and reviews.

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