Haw Haw!

By Peter Hanlon

APPLES DO not fall far from the tree. When the winds of war blow through the branches you never know what is about to fall from the sky. 

William Joyce lived just outside the borders of Saddleworth in Glodwick before moving to Germany.  He broadcast nightly during World War Two and became known as Lord Haw Haw.

His nasal, whining, upper-class voice always began with ‘Germany calling’ and he seemed full of vindictive pleasure at the mauling of Britain.

He had six million English listeners. Playing on the class system, he was a caricature of an upper class toff.

Some hoped he would disclose information about family or friends fighting on an often confused frontline.  Also, as part of the Nazi terror tactic, he used to agitate as to where the bombers would strike next.

One night in August 1940 he stated the bombers were heading for a place he knew well – the Measurements factory situated on Dobcross New Road.

This factory had a vital role in making ‘bomb sights’ for British aircraft and also made the timing mechanisms used in the bouncing bombs that breached the German dams.

The bombers would also hit the ‘Shadow factory’ in Shaw.  These factories were set up throughout Britain, supposedly in secret places, to produce munitions.

True to his word the Luftwaffe soon came over, swooping down over Delph to drop bombs on Royton golf course and the Belgian mill, near to the Shadow factory.

Fortunately, no bombs found the measurements installation or the ‘Delph Donkey’ railway halt that served it. Perhaps its location, nestled into the valley, saved it.

There was another more wayward and desperate attempt on Christmas Eve 1944. A ‘buzz bomb’ was unleashed by a Heinkel 111 over the North Sea to ensure it had the range to strike central Britain.

But its throbbing engine cut out over Saddleworth. It passed near the German POW camp, at Wellyhole Street Lees, before scattering postcards over Greenacres cemetery. These were written by English prisoners of war and when relatives wrote back the Germans would discover if the doodlebug had hit its mark.

Gliding over Glodwick Lows, it struck a house on Abbeyhills Road, killing 27 people who were attending a wedding.

So Haw Haw, who was born in New York, broadcast against the area that once sheltered him.

Interestingly he soon paid for his crimes by being the last person hung as a traitor against Britain. The man who hung him was Oldham landlord Albert Pierrepoint.