The Bombing of Blackburn and Darwen
After the massive loss of life resulting from the Great War, the nation must have been plunged into despair at the thought that barely twenty years later there was to be another war with Germany. People must have been listening with their hearts sinking as once again, war was declared on Germany.
On September 1st 1939 the first trainload of evacuees from Manchester arrived at Blackburn Railway Station. They must have been a sad sight, clutching their gas masks and staring around at the new surroundings which were to become home for the forseeable future. In 1940 the Blackburn branch of the Home Guard was mobilised and the the people of Blackburn raised £14,000 for the Spitfire Fund, enough to build two spitfires, aptly named Blackburn 1 and Blackburn 2.
The summer of 1940 was the time of the 'Battle of Britain'. There was heavy bombing in all major towns and cities in England. Whether it was considered strategically unimportant (despite its munitions and fuse factories) or whether it was due to its relative isolation Blackburn manged to escape from World War Two virtually untouched. It was in 1940 that the bombs began to fall in Darwen. In October of that year seven bombs were dropped and several people were killed. A bus that was travelling up Marsh House Lane was machine-gunned by one of the enemy aircraft.
In September 1940 a bomb fell on Ainsworth Street, killing two people and injuring eight others. The first bomb to fall in Blackburn was at Bennington Street on the 30th Agust 1940 although the occupants of the houses managed to escape unharmed. There was also a line of bombs which fell in a field off Livesey Branch Road. This was quite alarming as the bombs were in direct line with the fuse factory suggesting Nazi intelligence but luckily were two miles off course. In October 1940 two bombs fell at Whitebirk between the power station and the Gas works but no harm was done. Lord Haw Haw, Nazi propagandist and radio broadcaster continued to warn the people of Blackburn that the Nazis were aware of the ROF locations and bombs would follow but Blackburn remained unharmed.
On Christmas Day 1944 the residents of Blackburn were woken by a huge explosion that came from five miles away. A 'doodlebug' bomb had fallen at Gregson Lane, Hoghton, fortunately no-one was killed.