The wartime experiences of Sheffield’s adult population were etched in their memory for life and it would take the birth of new generation to start to shake off the horrors of the rise and fall of the Third Reich.
But Ken Leary’s story gives a totally new perspective of life in Sheffield in the 1940s; growing up amidst the life-changing carnage of WW2.
Born in 1936, his ‘Bombs Over Bramall Lane’ account opens a forgotten window on a truly forgotten world.
Like many children on VE Day, in 1945, he actually felt a tinge of sadness that “the game had finally ended”.
But it hadn’t. This was the start of an early life played out on the bombsites of The Moor and other areas; when floating a piece of wood in a bomb crater once occupied by Atkinsons department store was one of the highlights of his early life.
Post-war austerity, POW camps on the outskirts of the city and bike rides, to as far as his legs would carry him, are mesmerising insights into life gone by in Sheffield and the surrounding region.
Ken Leary, sadly, never lived to see his memoir being published, but his pin-sharp memory of long-gone pubs, shops and Sheffield institutions are a testament to a generation that made the best of a period most younger people would struggle to comprehend, let alone live through.