|Dornier 217 - the plane of choice by the Germans in 1943|
Swanson McKenzie remembers that night. As a mere youngster, he and his father were attempting to get home to Belmont Road, Kittybrewster. “We were baith flabbergasted,” he said, remembering the sight of a huge hole torn through numbers five to nine, Stafford Street, including the tenement in which his grandmother lived. Describing the scene as “eerie” as the area was deserted, Swany and his father ducked into the doorway of number four opposite, when a surprising sound broke the silence.
|Stafford Street after two incendiaries fell|
Meanwhile, in that shelter, also a cellar, which belonged to the corner grocer, the residents of 4 Stafford Street, including 11 year-old John Mann, knew a bomb had fallen outside, but not the extent of the damage. John recalls his mother being very agitated as her husband had been out on ARP duty and had not returned at the usual time. They were eventually joined by Swany’s grandmother, Mr Webster and the others from across the road, who told of their excitement. However, the old soldier was still only attired in dressing gown and pyjamas, it having been well after dark when the siren had howled ominously across the rooftops. John remembered him going out of the shelter, apparently to retrieve his medals from the tenement, believing that it was unlikely the enemy would double-back this way.
Andrew Webster never did return. A second incendiary fell on the house, trapping and killing him. George Mann, John’s father, returned just as the all-clear sounded to tell them there had been another bomb. Last year, one of his descendants, attending my “Aberdeen Blitz” tour, poignantly revealed that all Andrew intended to do was get a pair of boots as he had been standing around in his bare feet and didn’t want to catch a chill. There are new tenements there now, but if you look at the wall of numbers four and six, you can distinctly see the pitted areas caused by shrapnel damage from that very night. RIP Andrew Webster.
|Mash-up of 1943/2008 images of Stafford Street|