The Baedeker Raid on York

The explosion that never was

The difficulty in producing an accurate account of the events of 29th April 1942 is exemplified by the eye witness account of a Luftwaffe pilot. He recounts the events of that night in Broken Eagles by Bill Norman.

"In 1999 I returned to York to view the gas works that I attacked on the 29th April 1942. I remember that the town was already burning when I saw the gasworks in the light of the fires. I dived down and released my 4x500kg bombs from 3,000ft in a diving attack and got away as fast as I could."

He was certain that one of his bombs scored a direct hit as, "momentarily, night turned into day". 

On May 1st 1942, Radio Berlin reported that a large gasholder had exploded sending flames thousands of feet into the air and that a quickly spreading oil fire was observed.

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The York gasworks photographed in 1946. The large camouflaged gasometer was a German "Klonne Gas-holder" built in the 1920s

Records show that neither the power station or the gas works (off Layerthorpe Road....a few hundred metres further along from Asda) were damaged. One fatality (on Mansfield Street) was recorded.

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York power station's cooling tower on the west bank of the River Foss and the incinerator chimney (today outside Morrison's Supermarket).
Mansfield Street where the fatality occurred is at the extreme centre left of the photograph.