Goering’s Gang are aloft!
Barrow Island was more than a number in Goering's little red book, it had a pin stuck in it on his wall map too. Lord 'Haw Haw' had already reminded our good townspeople, in his own inimitable fashion, that they "had not been forgotten," and a social call was the last thing these chaps had on their collectively psychotic minds. Hermann Goering, made Reichsmarschall in 1940 after the success of the Polish blitzkrieg earlier that year, convinced Hitler that his superlative Luftwaffe could subjugate the British by destroying the RAF in the sky then bombing the civilians' morale to fragments. Goering however, had several personality defects, which not surprisingly went unnoticed among his psychopathic friends. One of these quirks stemmed from childhood when he and his family lived in rented accommodation. To eke out the rent money, his mother, with his father's permission, slept with their wealthy Jewish landlord. These childhood memories tended, to put it mildly, cloud his judgement in his dealings with the Jewish race in later life. Besides transvestism, one of his other little foibles was his addiction to morphine which imbued him with a cavalier attitude and a state of mind where reality rarely trod. All in all, Goering's wartime nick-name of; 'Der Dicke' needs no translation into modern English, disappointingly it translates from the German into a rather unspectacular, 'Fatty'. Ignoring advice to mount a bombing campaign against England when morale was low, immediately after the shambles that was Dunkirk: Goering procrastinated. This Francis Drake-like mood lasted some months, giving England time to dust herself down and reappraise the situation. The upshot of all this was that World War II didn't arrive on Barrow's doorstep until 1941. The blue-eyed zealots eventually turned up early in April 1941 with the unavowed intention of destroying the shipyard, among other things, and if the rest of Barrow Island was reduced to rubble in the process - so much the better. Considering residential Old Barrow was surrounded on all sides by the juicy targets of the shipyard. The docks on other and what was then, the Oil Wells tank farm full of stored aviation fuel for the war effort, it is incredible that what could have been a hideous holocaust was, from the German point of view, somewhat of a damp squib: for which the islanders were truly thankful. Most of the damage caused to housing was from blast damage rather than direct hits, Aureool Terrace, a case in point, was flattened by a land mine exploding in the Timber Pond. Fortunately, the only casualty was a man who preferred his bed to a cold air-raid shelter. He was lying in bed when the blast caused the floor to collapse down to the lower storey. Luckily he received only relatively minor injuries. Aureool House standing but yards away, escaped virtually unscathed. Its demise came in the 1980s, caused by British bulldozers to make way for the British Gas Condensate Plant which stands on the site of the old Oil Wells. A another row of cottages, demolished before the war, to save Goering the trouble, stood quite close to Aureool Terrace just inside the dock entrance in St Andrews Street. They were built for the higher echelons of the workforce building Ramsden Docks in the 1870s. Known as Foreman's Cottages, they were respectable habitations of not only foremen but on completion of the docks other professionals. In 1882 Issac Coombes a train driver occupied No2, Henry Kendall Inspector of Rail Bridges was at No 9 and the Assistant Pier Master, John Lewis lived there. Over the years, however, the cottages, although soundly built, deteriorated. In 1904 it was noted that fourteen cottages housed eighty-four people.' One family made a few bob selling eggs and garden produce from the doorstep until the 1930s when the town council decided they were insanitary. In 1939 they were demolished. Had the town council waited three years, Hitler would have done it for them, in the bat of a bomb-aimer's eye. The cottages' foundations next saw the light of day in 2008 during the landscaping operations for the new St Andrew's allotments that occupy the spot now. In the same groundworks, billets and a cook-house which survived, as a store, were flattened. These were built to accommodate men from the Manchester Regiment; whose duty it was to patrol the docks and secure the entrances including the one at St Andrew Street, with its 'White Gate. Inside the 'White Gate' and over the railway lines, a pillbox was constructed to cover the approach, just as pillboxes and gun emplacements were built all over Barrow, in readiness for the invasion that never came. A concrete Anti-Aircraft Gun mounting still sits near the blockhouse in Cavendish Park and another gun emplacement lies almost hidden at the rear of the Timber Pond allotments in among the remnants of B.P's tank farm offices, all now completely buried by the ‘Regeneration’ scheme. If there were no other clues that the docks were once a mass of sprawling railway tracks and sidings, one would only have to plot the positions of the pillboxes, although some have disappeared over the years. From the Cradle Bridge, past Shipyard and Dockyard junctions off towards the Anchor Line Basin; and the single line to Ramsden Dock Station and the deep-water berth jetties, all the railway lines were defended by pillboxes. Sited parallel to the track they guarded and were so arranged that their arcs of fire covered virtually every square foot of dockland line, spur and junction.
Aureool terrace in the background. Aureool House behind tree top, right
LEFT: Old pillbox guards Shipyard junction ABOVE: Pillbox view of Nuclear ship