Peter Brown

How Died:House Bombed
Incident Date:22/12/1940
Incident Address.8 Livingstone St, Chorlton on Medlock
Died Address:8 Livingstone St, Chorlton on Medlock
Grave Details:K/27
Grave Photo:Yes - Headstone
Cemetery or Memorial:Manchester (Southern) Cemetery
Town Memorial:Not Listed
Extra Information:
CWGC - Private, Royal Army Service Corps - No.
T/62040.    Home on leave.

Charles Morton, residing at Ottawa, Canada (2015)
states that the following members of his family
were killed at 8 Livingstone Street,
Chorlton-on-Medlock during the first night of the
Manchester Christmas Blitz 1940.

His maternal Grandmother - Isabella Wright
His Father - Charles Morton
Isabella's Cousin - Andrew Jackson
Her Son in Law - Private Peter Brown RASC who was
home on leave.

All buried together in the one grave.  M.I. "In
the mid'st of life we are in death".

Charles has written a document about his
experiences that night which he has kindly sent
me.  I have extracted the following from

"My father did his regular guard duty over the
petrol pumps of a local car dealer as a member of
the Home Guard of the Home Guard.  My eldest
sister Doris left each evening to do a shift as an
ambulance driver at the local Civil Defence depot,
while my other sister Belle, who, as a member of
The Auxiliary Territorial Service (the women's
army) was home from her unit on a weekend pass. 

It was decided that it would be prudent to move to
our shelter on the cellar steps.  Sitting on
folded blankets and cushions we took our places in
random order.  On the bottom steps, Peter Brown
sat with his wife - Mary beside him, I was a
couple of steps higher.  Above me, Belle shared a
step with Mum, while Nan and Uncle Andrew were
near the top and Dad just inside the entrance. 

The initial stages of the raid involved the
dropping of flares, followed by thousands of small
incendiary bombs, interspersed with the occasional
high explosive bomb, mostly over the city centre. 
As the raid wore on, the number and calibre of the
high explosives were gradually increased until the
night seemed like one continuous explosion.

Around 9.00 pm there was something of a lull
between the wave of enemy planes and I was allowed
to go upstairs to get warm.  By switching off the
light and opening the blackout curtain, I could
see the glow of central Manchester burning.

On hearing the now familiar drone of more
approaching aircraft and the guns greeting them,
we all retired to the cellar steps once more and
listened to sounds of the raid, some distant,
others close. On a narrow ledge in the brickwork
on the walls of the cellar steps four candles
flickered; giving an unreal picture of the eight
people huddled there.  Suddenly, one immediately
after the other, there were two earth shaking
noises, not explosions but rather like a deep
rumble going through the house, followed by the
sound of falling masonry and furniture.  After a
few minutes Dad went into the living room and
looked at the damage.  The fireplace had been
blown out entirely and embers from what had
remained of the fire smouldered on the floor.  Dad
quickly went around treading them out.

Before we were able to react, the walls had
collapsed around us, burying everyone in rubble.
This was no case of sitting with pieces of timber
and other debris restricting our movement.  The
weight of the collapsing wall fell across my back,
pushing my head almost to my knees and I found
that I was unable to make any movement at all,
completely pinned.

For a few moments after the rumble of the
collapsing house died away, there was complete
silence.  Calls from my Mum to Nin and my dad
brought no replies and she checked with each of us
to find out that everyone was still alive.  Peter,
on the bottom step, was unconscious and was
breathing very heavily with loud wheezing noises. 
Mary, just near him, was in the same situation as
myself, Mum and Belle.  Uncle Andrew, however, was
crying out in what must have been great pain. 
Later, I learned that Andrew at the top and Peter
at the bottom had taken the weight of the
staircase above, itself under the weight of the
upper stories rubble, possibly preventing the
stairs from crushing further down on the rest of

In an effort to attract attention of any possible
rescuers, Mum coordinated a shout for help.  We
shouted in unison until we had no spare breath to
continue, but heard no response.  The initial
quiet after the noise of the falling rubble had
subsided was broken by faint cries from whom we
assumed to be Mr. Anderson next door, but after a
short while even these stopped.   [Mr. James
Anderson aged, 70 at No. 10 was also killed].

Twice, I drifted in and out of unconsciousness, a
state I could only describe later as the closest
thing to dying as I could imagine.  Between bouts
of awareness and oblivion I think I abandoned all
hope of rescue, settling to just wait until the
final lapse into sleep.  However, my mother kept
rousing each of us; how she herself did not lose
consciousness is miraculous.  Throughout, Mary
kept up her urging to Peter to keep breathing,
until finally, the noise of his laboured wheezes
and gasps stopped.  Uncle Andrew too had become
silent, and as though things could not get worse,
we began to get the faint smell of gas.

I heard Mum and Belle pulled out of the rubble and
before long the debris around me was cleared until
I was free from the waist upwards and Mary's head
and shoulders were gradually uncovered.  Above me,
Uncle Andrew was draped over what remained of the
staircase, his arms dangling and obviously dead.
Next to Mary, Peter was hunched with his head
still in the rubble, his hunched shoulders showing
no sign of life.
I was gently pulled from the rubble and carried to
a stretcher in the middle of the street, where a
lady ARP ambulance worker cut off my clothes with
a pair of large scissors, while another young
woman gave me a drink of water that I thought was
the sweetest thing I had ever tasted; the water, I
learned later, contained a large amount of sugar,
standard procedure when treating shock victims.

I was placed in a small ambulance van like the one
Doris drove and taken to Manchester Royal
Infirmary, a ride of only a few minutes.  There
was a semi-humorous moment, when Mum, after
assuring herself that I was safely in bed in one
of the hospital wards, came in to see me.  On
entering the ward, she saw that most people in the
other beds had black faces and thought that that
was their skin colour.  She wondered where so many
black people had come from.  It turned out,
however, that they were a group of firemen who had
received burns to the hands and face, the black
being an ointment used to treat the wounds.

At the Infirmary, I was taken to a surgical ward
and placed, unwashed and caked in debris, into a
warm clean bed.  When I arrived, the majority of
the other patients were indeed black faced; not
all were bed ridden but were being treated for
burns sustained while fighting a blaze at a cotton
warehouse on Portland Street in the city centre.

After I was discharged from the Manchester Royal
Infirmary, I was taken to Barnes Convalescent
Hospital in Cheadle.  By the time I had left
Barnes, the family had been allocated a house in
Burnage (112 Erwood Road).  It was a nice place to
live, especially having an Anderson shelter in the
garden, except that across the street there was a
large field, strewn with piles of stones at
intervals to prevent glider landings.  Beyond this
field was the Fairey Aviation factory and each
time there was an air raid, the field used to
sparkle with incendiary bombs.  These, combined
with the noise of the local Ack-Ack guns played on
our nerves, which were pretty fragile at the time.
Manchester Corporation was very understanding and
provided us with a similar house on Yew Tree Road
in Fallowfield”


I asked Charles why his father had been buried on
the 3rd January 1941 whereas the other three
members of his family had been buried on the 31st
December 1940.   His explanation was………..

"As I understand things, after my father and
grandmother were found they were removed to a
temporary morgue located in one of the pools of
Victoria Baths on what was then called High
Street, since named Hathersage Road. An uncle
undertook the job of locating the bodies and
easily found that of my grandmother.  However, my
father, who was 46 years old with a much younger
appearance, appeared on the casualty list as an
'unidentified man, 36 years old'.  My uncle
therefore did not go to see him and only did so
when most other possibilities were exhausted."

The Manchester Bomb Map is obviously incorrect for
Livingstone Street as no bombs or bomb damage is
recorded on those maps.   The Nurses Home
immediately to the rear of the Livingstone even
numbers was hit and demolished.  Three nurses are
recorded as having been killed there.  Charles
informs me that Nos. 2 - 14 Livingstone Street
were totally destroyed and demolished.

Manchester (City of Manchester)
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