Daylight raid on Aircraft Works kills 53

The bombs from just one aircraft killed 53 people at the Parnall Aircraft Works at Yate near Bristol.

The Parnall Aircraft Works at Yate, Bristol, were hit on the 27th February and considerable damage was done to buildings. Full production will be restored in about a month’s time.

From the Home Security Situation report for the week.

Dorothy Wall was with her parents who ran the Railway Hotel, where many workers from Parnall’s had just finished their lunch break:

We had just closed, it must have been about 2 o’clock. The siren went off and immediately, before it had stopped, the bombs were dropping. It was a single aircraft. Some bombs dropped on the factory, but some dropped on a gunnery school which probably tested the gun turrets, a number of them were killed during the air-raid. In that first raid a number of factory workers were killed.The German aircraft came in so low that you could see the pilot, a large part of the factory was very badly damaged so they evacuated some departments and then scattered them where they could.

Her full account is at BBC People’s War.

For much more on Parnall’s see Flickr.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Doyle October 14, 2018 at 2:32 am

My grandmother Edith Doyle was killed In the air raid. I believe my Dad, Joe was 11 at the time, he had a brother Dan and sisters Peggy, Francis and Margaret who was only a baby at the time. My dad, passed away in 2013 and although we had talked of the incident I’m still interested to know more. I’m sure I recall Dad saying it was his Mum’s first shift when the fatal air raid occurred. The most moving conversation I ever had with Dad was him recalling waiting for the news after his mum hadn’t returned home and tales of the air raid had reached them.
It’s difficult to comprehend the scale of the sacrifice that his family and many others contended with.
To all those who say that the world is worse now they should understand stories like this and remember this was only 24 years after the similarly horrific First World War.
Peace is a blessed state.
Tim Doyle 2018

Bernard Hunphreys April 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm

My father was an Engineering Inspector at Parnall Ltd in 1939. He subsequently moved to New Mendip Engineering at Atworth, near Melksham, Wilts, but I don’t have any date, but it was before 1942 (when I was born).
Has anyone any information that might help me ?
Was he moved after the bombing in 1941, I wonder ?
Any pointers would be most welcome.

Antony Baxby April 4, 2016 at 1:40 am

hello Terry Finnigan. Yes my parents and your lived as next door neighbours in Badminton road, Downend. Sorry I did not get back to you before, but I have only just seen your posting. If you want me to call, let me have your number. No problem, I have free world-wide free calling

martin ridley dowding September 7, 2015 at 7:57 pm

In reply to A Cameron Johnson who inquired about my father, Ridley Dowding in January 2015. He was, indeed, the Ridley Dowding you knew — and had a three-wheeled Morgan. He worked for Sir Roy but left the UK in the late 1940s to work for AV Roe in Canada. He returned to England from time to time with me and my mother to work on aircraft projects. He taught engineering in Canada and died in 2004. I am so sorry for not responding earlier.

martin ridley dowding September 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm

To: A. Cameron Johnson, who wrote to inquire about my father, Ridley Dowding, Jan. 29, 2015.

I am very sorry for not having answered your request before. Yes, he was the Ridley Dowding you asked about — and yes he had a three-wheeler Morgan.. He left England in the late 1940s after working with Sir Roy but returned with me and my mother from time to time to work in the UK. He was with AV Roe, later taught engineering in Canada and died in 2004.

Terry Scott-Finnigan May 14, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Antony Baxby ! … I am pretty sure that we were next-door neighbours of yours in Downend.
nr Bristol. My Father was Jimmy Finnigan Progress Chaser in the production of Gun Turrets. Following the raid he and probably others received a letter of praise from Grattan Thompson (Director) for swiftly getting the factory up and running. I have letters and a great photo of many employees of Parnalls at a party at The Hungaria Restaurant in London taken in 1944 in honour of H.H Healy, Former Managing Director.
I will subsequently donate this photo to Yate Heritage Centre.
If anyone would like to contact me, especially Anthony please initially contact the editor Martin

J LAWS February 20, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Seeking data on Percy J LAWS who died 27 Feb 1941 Air raid on Parnell Aircraft Company Yate Airfield Bristol

A Cameron-Johnson January 29, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Did Ridley Dowding referred to above go on to work at Sir Roy Fedden in Cheltenham in the 1940s? If so, I knew him and his Morgan three-wheeler. We both worked on the Flat-6 sleeve valve engine, and I wonder where he moved on to when the firm closed in 1947.

A Cameron-Johnson January 29, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Did Ridley Dowding referred to above go on to work with Sir Roy Fedden in Cheltenham. If so, I knew him and his Morgan three wheeler, and I wonder where he went from there when the company closed in 1947.

martin dowding March 6, 2014 at 2:38 am

My uncle, Marcus Dowding, survived the bombing. My father, Ridley Dowding who designed aircraft parts, was not there that day. Marcus, bloodied and covered with glass, went to my Auntie’s house in Yate. He was in great shock.

Sandra Matthews February 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm

My grandfather, Mother and Aunt were working at Parnalls when the bomb dropped. They were all very lucky and survived. My Mother was in the next section to the dropped bomb and my grandfather really though he would find her dead when he went looking for her. They were all extremely fortunate to survive.

robert john slocombe January 28, 2014 at 3:01 pm

My Aunty was killed in the raid her name wass Betty D Parkman, she was married to my mums brother – he was killed in France around the same time

robert john slocombe January 28, 2014 at 2:57 pm

My dad worked at Parnells during that period – his name is Len Slocombe, we lived in Moorland Road.

Antony Baxby May 28, 2013 at 11:25 am

My father, Edward Thomas Baxby was works manager at the time of the raid. Immediately after the raid he ran back inside the factory to look for his boss, Tim Healey. Mr. Healey, however, was already outside. My father’s car, a new Rover was among those destroyed. I was a young boy at the time, but I remember very well the “telling off” my mother gave my father when he told her of runnin back into the factory.

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