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Editorial – Sheffield Smitten

26 March 1949

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 21 December 1940

Sheffield Smitten

Sheffield has now experienced the full fury of a Nazi mass raid and has borne its terrible ordeal bravely. The city has shown itself worthy to be ranked and remembered with heroic London, Coventry, Birmingham, Southampton , Bristol, and Liverpool for fortitude amid calamity, and unabated resolution to fight on until the skies are cleared of this monstrous evil.

The attack on Sheffield had been long expected, and when it came it was met with powerful and spirited resistance from the ground, but the raiders were equally determined and very numerous, and used to the full the advantages of good visibility and quick success with pin-pointing incendiaries. They were kept high by gunfire, but they managed to maintain themselves over the city for many hours and to wreak woeful havoc on the business quarter as well as, upon residential areas. In a second and shorter, but still very severe, attack on Sunday night they concentrated on working-class districts.

They failed to destroy the city’s war potential, its morale, or its civic organization, though they !eft behind them the usual trail of death and ruin. They did not escape scatheless; some were brought down and others damaged and crippled. They found the barrage hot on Thursday and hotter on Sunday. The material damage they inflicted was extensive and the loss of life grievous. The A.R.P. services, though under-manned – as Sheffield citizens have been constantly warned – acquitted themselves gallantly and well, and mobilization of the resources of the city and district was well organized.

Many emergencies were foreseen; the experience of other bombed cities had been noted and applied, and though there were physical problems which defied prevision, the whole terrible task of putting the city to rights was instantly attacked and is proceeding without pause. The city, which lately gave so largely of its wealth to the war effort, has now thrown in its blood, nerve, and sinew and is ready to dare and endure all things to bring Hitler and his murderous minions to judgment and justice.

For the homeless, the injured, and the bereaved there is intense sympathy and an eager desire to minister comfort and consolation. Sheffield will certainly not lack the means of recovery and reconstruction. The structural damage is the least important effect of the raid. Sheffield has, perhaps fortunately at the moment few buildings of historic interest or achitectural merit, and these substantially escaped. A worthy re-planning of the civic centre has long been talked of and will now almost certainly be undertaken; so much at least of good we may expect from great evil and grievous misfortune. In Sheffield as in other bombed cities there is now a practical as well as an ideal necessity to break with a squalid tradition and to rebuild nobly. Out of the ashes and rubble a finer and more dignified city will surely arise, or this sacrifice and suffering will have been in vain.