Arthur was born in New Mills in 1929, but by the time WW2 had started in 1939 he had moved with his family to Hayfield. He has written the following account:
The bombing and Blitz of Manchester was heard by people in our part of the country and we could see the smoke and flames but without anything like the Manchester people suffered. Hayfield then went through a period when evacuees arrived in the village, especially some from the islands of Jersey and Guernsey. These children shared half a day at school and we shared the other half (since the village school was too small to accommodate all the children together).
As the youngest of 8 children I worked whilst at school delivering milk for a farmer who had been blinded by young men by ‘larking around at work with caustic rags’. It was through this milk delivery round that I met the evacuees. The farmer managed the cows and animals on his farm independently and knew the correct money had been collected for the milk he produced by feeling the edges of the coins. Two evacuee families came to Hayfield from Manchester because they had been bombed, arriving in a Manchester taxi with a trailer carrying some of their furniture. These families settled in Hayfield, staying beyond the duration of the war.
By 1942 the air raids were less frequent and the bombing of New Mills and Hayfield was a shock to everyone.
The event is recorded on 3rd July 1942; it was an annual event whereby the schools of New Mills and Hayfield competed in a cricket competition. On this night we played against New Mills Church School and at approaching 8.00 pm Hayfield School [Arthur’s team] were batting when suddenly out of the blue two German (Junkers 88) planes flew by and they dipped down and started to machine gun the people on the cricket field. The remarkable thing was that the children fell flat on the floor and the people watching just stood and stared at them. At the same time we saw as they went past they let the bombs out; and as the planes flew on I saw the crew of the plane laughing. As they flew over the church spire I saw the bombs fall followed by a large amount of earth in the sky. Unfortunately their bombs caused serious damage to a Methodist chapel and completely destroyed a semi-detached house in which a young girl was playing a piano. The caretaker of the chapel was also killed. Also an elderly man working in his allotment suffered machine gun bullets and died two days later.
That was the end of the cricket match and I caught the bus back to Hayfield. As I sat down on the seat I found it wet, and the bus conductor told me that he’d just been about to pour a drink of tea out of his flask as the bomb dropped and he’d jumped so much that he spilt the tea over the seats. So I arrived home with tea-stained cricket trousers.
As we got back to Hayfield we found out that what these planes had done was bomb part of Hayfield, destroying three cottages. In the first cottage they killed an evacuee from Salford who was in our class at school, but her grandma, who was living with her, survived. The middle house was empty but in the third house there was a mother, father and two daughters (they had 3 sons serving in the war: two in the navy and one in the army) and the daughter of the owner of the houses collecting the rent. Sadly all were killed.
We never knew why New Mills and Hayfield were attacked, but there was supposition that it was because they had to climb higher to cross Kinder and were releasing their bombs. We learnt that they were eventually shot down in Lincolnshire by Polish fighter pilots. That didn’t help, but the experience made us more careful about how we went about life after that.
This account has been compiled from a video recording and Arthur’s written account.