There’s a discussion currently ongoing in the background between contributors the the Brownhills blog about our area during wartime, and the kind of effect the Second World War had on Brownhills and the wider area as a whole – we’re interested primarily in what people remember, or stories they were told about air raids in the locality.
We know there are lots of recollections, many of which may have now, in the space of the 70-odd years between the raids themselves and their re-telling, become foggy. We know there are some circulating legends which may have been perhaps gilded a little over time in the transmission.
I’ve featured some of the recollections here – but I’ve always thought there must me loads more out there, but it can be hard to tell fact from fiction with so little existing evidence.
Right now, we’re not bothered about that. What we’d like is for readers to comment about what the experienced, or what they were told by parents and grandparents about what bombs fell, and where.
Any contributions welcome, but particularly from the Brownhills – Burntwood – Norton – Pelsall – Aldridge -Walsall Wood area please.
Do you have any souvenirs of the raids, collected at the time – maybe shrapnel or whatever. Were your forefathers involved in the Air Raid Patrol or maybe reparations?
To take this further, I’m also fielding this to local historians and archivists (Hello, Paul!) – are there any trustworthy, official records held anywhere of air raid bombs that fell/damage caused or repairs made? I realise they may be disparate. I wonder, for instance, did Birmingham Canal Navigations or the Urban District Council keep records of bomb damage and repairs needed? If so, do these records still exist?
The reason I ask is because the Second World War is now slipping out of living memory, and like the First, it has its own mythology and legend culture that seems beyond public analysis.
To question received narrative on the wars is often tantamount to disrespect – but I’d like to go beyond that and I’d like us to be able to look at this stuff plainly and inquisitively.
I’ll use the example of the Christmas Truce football match in the Great War: Anyone would think from media attention in recent years that the whole conflict was a football match bracketed by two bits of unpleasantness either side. This was a momentous event, but the truce is taking on, thanks to very sentimental media focus, a life all of it’s own. Lots of people now feel they are connected with what was a very small event involving a tiny number of soldiers.
In short, this is now way beyond history and is becoming cultural folklore. Which is OK, because lots of historians are aware of that, and countering it gently where necessary.
This is normal, and part of the distortion of time, and culture, and memory; but I’m keen to see what we have for Brownhills and the local area for the Second World War before reference points are lost for good.
Please do comment with any stories you have of the air raids – and if you can, where you heard them. We’re all fascinated and would love to hear them.
Mail me if you’d rather: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.