53 killed at BSA works – 19th November 1940

On the night of the 19th November 1940 Birmingham suffered one of its worst air raids of the blitz when a German bomber dropped two bombs on the Armoury Road site of the Birmingham Small Arms factory at Small Heath.

Many night shift workers that night had stayed at their machines when the sirens sounded. When they did decide to vacate the factory floor the intensity of the raid made it impossible for them to reach the air raid shelters safely.

That night they chose to shelter in the basement of the reinforced concrete factory, only one worker would be pulled out alive after being trapped for 9 hours, the rest were crushed to death when the complete factory building collapsed on top of them after two direct hits.

Wartime reporting restrictions meant that the raid could not be reported by the media.

For the first time in 70 years there will be a wreathe laid at Armoury Road at 2 pm on the 19th November by Jon Price the organiser of the BSA Memorial Appeal and webmaster of the Made in Birmingham website.

A small gathering of motorcyclists, some on BSA motorcycles, will proceed to the Birmingham Council House after the wreathe laying to attend the Birmingham Air Raid 70th anniversary day organised by local school teacher Doug Smith.

The exhibition, in conjunction with the Birmingham Air Raids Association, is in the banqueting suite and will be open to the public from 10 – 4 pm, there is no admission charge.

Charles Cundall’s painting of the BSA disaster, owned and commissioned by the BSA and presented to BMAG when the factory closed in 1975, will be also on show.Two military vehicles will also be exhibited outside the council house beside the Frankfurt Christmas Market.

There will be also an evening ticket only event commencing at 7pm which will attended by former BSA electrician and 1948 Olympic Games medalist, Tommy Godwin. Tommy’s BSA racing bicycle will also be on show.