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The McCrea Family

The story behind the deaths of Dr. Edward D'Arcy McCrea and his family has an importance and a significance on a number of levels. Sadly, the whole family was killed as a result of a bomb falling on their house on the evening of 22 December 1940.  His wife, Edith Florence, aged 44, their son, Patrick Philip Willock, aged 12, and their daughter, Marjorie Gillian Willock, were killed outright.  The McCrea family lived at The Cottage, Barton Road - a large house with an orchard in its substantial grounds. There was a house party taking place at the time of the explosion. Nobody survived. Numerous other people, including their housemaid, were killed. The site of the house remained derelict for several years, and then in the mid-fifties the land was taken over by North West Water. That ground was later redeveloped in the nineties and a retirement home, Elmwood, was built. The grave of the family is in the churchyard of St.Mark's Church, Worsley.

One message posted on the internet says: ‘My father and grandfather were standing outside their house at 43 Barton Road looking at the searchlights when they were both blown off their feet and up towards the Bridgewater Hotel, they ran round the corner and found that the McCrea house had been totally destroyed and was in flames and belongings were hanging from the branches of the trees.’

The bomb which destroyed the house is thought to have been a parachute bomb. Air raids over Manchester had begun in August 1940 but the heaviest raids were on the nights of the 22 and 23 December 1940. On these two nights, commonly referred to as the Christmas Blitz, it is reckoned that over 680 people were killed in the Manchester area. Because of its importance as an industrial area, Trafford Park was extensively bombed. The parachute bomb was probably dropped over Trafford Park, but drifted off course. The parachute bomb (or mine) was very effective at causing widespread damage by exploding at rooftop height to maximise its explosive capacity. It had the potential to destroy buildings within a 100 yard radius.

More information on the McCrea Family can be found here.

Researched and written by Paul R Speakman

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