Mother and Son are victims of the Blitz

An inscription at the base of a cross in Oldham’s Hollingwood Cemetery reveals another wartime tragedy. On the night of October 12/13, 1941, 15 German aircraft dropped 26 high explosive bombs on Oldham. Nineteen exploded and seven failed to detonate. A total of 27 civilians died in the raid. Two of those who died were Amy Hughes [46] and her son John Webster Hughes [13]. They were killed when one of the bombs landed on a house at 6 Incline Road, Hollinwood. Alongside the cross that marks their grave is a memorial flower vase inscribed with the words: To a Loving Mother and Son, Amy & John “Treasured Memories”

Further reading: http://bit.ly/2ifLfej

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Chemistry student involved in first Allied gas attack

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Aaron Harry Meek served under his real name – Aaron Harry Macarborski. The son of a tailor, he studied applied chemistry at Manchester University. Aaron had weak eyes which prevented him from enlisting. He volunteered for special chemical work when the call went out. He joined the Royal Engineers on June 30, 1915 and within a week he was in France. His unit, 186 Field Company, RE was preparing for gas warfare.
 
On the first day of the Battle of Loos, which saw the first use of gas by the Allies, he was separated from his unit while acting as sentry and listed as missing, presumed dead. He is buried in Urmston Jewish Cemetery, Trafford. It is possible that the Macarborksi family changed their name because of strong anti German sentiments in Britain at that time when having the wrong sort of name meant trouble . . .
 
The first use of gas by the British was a disaster. According to Wikipedia, Chlorine was the agent to be used (140 tons arrayed in 5,100 cylinders), and the attack was dependent on a favorable wind. However, on this occasion the wind proved fickle, and the gas either lingered in no man’s land or, in places, blew back on the British trenches. This debacle was compounded when the gas could not be released from all the British canisters because the wrong turning keys were sent with them. Subsequent retaliatory German shelling hit some of those unused full cylinders, releasing more gas among the British troops. Six soldiers died and more than 2,000 were injured. Exacerbating the situation were the primitive flannel gas masks distributed to the British. The masks got hot, and the small eye-pieces misted over, reducing visibility. Some of the troops lifted the masks to get some fresh air, causing them to be gassed.
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Cut down in his prime – the Death of 2nd Lieut. Frankenstein

 

On the crest of the high ground upon which Crumpsall Jewish Cemetery is located, there is a grave marker at the base of a large memorial to a Phillip Frankenstein who died in March 1908 aged 75 years. The marker bears the inscription:

In Pround and ever Loving Memory of our Darling Son CYRIL JOSEPH FRANKENSTEIN 2nd Lieut who Fell in Action in France Aug 23rd 1918, aged 22 years. Deeply Mourned by his Parents, Relatives and Friends. May his Dear Soul Rest in Peace

At the time of his death, Cyril Frankenstein was serving with the 13th Battalion of the Tank Corps. He was the son of Harry and Sara Frankenstein of 315 Clowes Street, Higher Broughton, Manchester. His Medal Card records that Cyril originally enlisted into the Army Service Corps as a Private with the service number of MA/102997. He entered France on 22 August 1915 and was commissioned on 26 June 1917. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, BWM and Victory.

An obituary in the Salford City Reporter, dated 7th September 1918 records:

SECOND-LIEUT. C. J. FRANKENSTEIN

Second-Lieutenant Cyril Joseph Frankenstein, Tank Corps, son of Mr and Mrs. Frankenstein, 315, Great Clowes-street, Broughton, is reported to have been killed in action in France. Enlisting on the outbreak of war, and being an expert motor driver, he became attached to the Tank Corps and for good work received a commission. He was 22 years of age, and was educated at the Manchester Grammar School. After finishing his education in France and Germany he joined the family business of Messrs. P. Frankenstein & Sons, Newton Heath, of which he was made a director last year.

He is buried in Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Villers-Bretonneux became famous in 1918, when the German advance on Amiens ended in the capture of the village by their tanks and infantry on 23 April. On the following day, the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, with units of the 8th and 18th Divisions, recaptured the whole of the village and on 8 August 1918, the 2nd and 5th Australian Divisions advanced from its eastern outskirts in the Battle of Amiens. An account of the circumstances of his death can found immediately following the photographs of his grave.

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The Death of Cyril Frankenstein:

In late August 1918, 13th Battalion of the Tank Corps were tasked to support  Australian troops south of the Somme. The ensuing action became known as The Battle of the Woods. Earlier battles left the battalion in reduced circumstances and it had to form a Composite Battalion with what tanks and crewmen it had left. Experienced crews with broken up to  mix their experience with new unblooded tank crewmen.

By the night of August 21, all the tanks had moved to an assembly area in the Cerisy Valley. The next day, pairs of officers moved forward on foot to recce enemy positions in a large wood which the enemy was holding in strength. There were casualties in doing this.. The attack was timed for 0445 on August 23. Under the heading ‘Fortune of War’, the battalion’s War Diary recorded the following:

At 0430, 15 minutes before Zero, all tanks started. The enemy at this time was putting down a heavy harrassing fire of which the bulk fell behind the tanks.  A shell fragment entered the front flap of 2/Lt FRANKENSTEIN’s tank, killing this officer and carrying away the Compass; in consequence the driver lost direction and did not reach the Start Line in time to move ahead of the Infantry. With this exception, all tanks were up in good time and moved ahead as the barrage lifted.

Three pages of the War Diary [provided by the National Archive] describe the advance and what happened to the Tanks and their crews. It sounds very frightening:

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Tragic Death of ARP Messenger Boy

Bernard Mendle’s grave can be found in Rainsough Jewish Cemetery, Prestwich. The inscription states: In Loving Memory of our Dear Son, Bernard Mendle who was tragically taken from us by Enemy Action 22nd December 1940 in his 14th Year. Sadly missed by his heartbroken Parents, Brothers, Sisters, Grandmother and Relatives. Also by Members and Messenger Boys of ARP Post 92. The wonderful Greater Manchester Blitz Victims website has a page dedicated to Bernard.
Evidently, his two elder siblings were serving in the Army and Bernard wanted to do his bit. It is said he became a member the Auxiliary Fire Service as a voluntary messenger. He devoted all his spare time to training and his AFS duties. [I note that he is recorded as a member of Air Raid Precautions on his grave}.
During the first night of the Manchester Blitz, he felt under utilised as a messenger and ‘borrowed’ a fireman’s uniform. Unbeknown to his colleagus, he arrived at a factory that was ablaze. He was working on the fires when a German bomb landed on the building and was killed. Bernard was buried on Christmas Day.
His death is recorded in the Civilian War Dead Register maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Commemorated in Perpetuity by the Commission. Fuller details of this brave young boy can be found HERE
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Crash-landed on return to base

Flight Sgt Tony Silverman lies buried in Blackley Jewish Cemetery in Manchester. His gravestone reflects his service with the Royal Air Force and story of his injury and subsequent death makes sad reading.

On the early evening of July 6, 1944, Avro Lancaster ND799 took off from RAF Wickenby in Lancashire and Tony Silverman was onboard. He was the aircraft’s Wireless Operator. The target for that night was a flying bomb site in the Foret du Croc, France. His was one 19 Lancasters from 12 Squadron RAF and they were part of a force of 314 Halifaxes, 210 Lancasters and 26 Mosquitoes attacking five flying bomb sites. The bombers faced no opposition except for a handful of heavy anti-aircraft guns in the Dieppe area on the outward route. The bombing was concentrated on the targets as far as cloud would allow.

Over the target, a bomb dropped from another aircraft sliced off the starboard tail fin and rudder. The aircraft’s pilot Flt Lt H I Gray fought to regain control of the aircraft and, miraculously, managed to fly it back to base. It was too badly damaged to land safely and crashed on the approach to the airfield at Faldingworth.

Tony Silverman was terribly injured and removed to hospital but died on July 18, 1944. His body was returned to his family and buried at Blackley Jewish Cemetery. He was the son of  David and Hilda Rebecca Silverman, of Salford. Of the other crew members, Flight Lieutenant Gray, Flying Officer H P Taylor and Flight Sergeant E W Strand, and Sergeant J N D Scott survived the crash. Pilot Officer Gibson and Sergeant P Frith were killed outright.

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