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Liverpool Blitz: Efforts to clear the city

The cold light of morning brought home the psychological, financial and practical problems of the clean up. The damage from several nights' bombing built up to make the clean up harder each day of the May Blitz.

Hoses run across the street
Hoses run across the corner of Lord and Paradise Street
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British and American troops worked alongside labourers from the city and beyond. They laid emergency water mains across roads, demolished dangerous buildings and reopened transport routes.

At the waterfront, dock walls and gates had to be reset, docks cleared of debris as far as possible, and incoming ships directed to an available berth. The lack of a water supply made this work extremely difficult.

Many people tried to travel into Liverpool centre to either help with the clean up or just to see the extent of the damage. Unfortunately this slowed the emergency services so much that at one point during the May Blitz two cordons were set up around the centre, preventing anyone but emergency personnel from entering the city.

A young boy stands amongst the remains of a building
A young boy stands amongst the remains of a building on Fleet Street in Liverpool city centre. 25 September 1940
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In the meantime children who had not been evacuated were scouring the city for shrapnel or anything else with a German marking. The bigger the piece the more impressive it was. It could either be kept as a souvenir or swapped at school (presuming school was open and hadn't been bombed).

Activity

Read more personal stories and memories on the BBC's WW2 People's War website.

 

Audio

audio

Morgan Wood talks about his childhood experience of collecting shrapnel after a raid.
(windows media | mp3 | read transcript)

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