How Nazi air raids on Liverpool affected The Beatles

Anyone who has watched The History Channel has seen reports of the air campaigns against England by The Third Reich during World War II. Aside from London, Liverpool was a prime target. It is ironic that the Nazi air raids over Liverpool both figured prominently in the births of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

John Lennon was born on 9 October 1940, during a week of devastating air-raids and destruction in Liverpool. John’s mother, Julia Stanley Lennon, was in labor for 30 hours and the doctors were about to perform a c-section when baby John Winston Lennon finally appeared. The birth occurred during an air raid, though one not as harsh as the ones in previous days or the days that would follow in the week.

Julia’s sister Mimi went to see her new nephew but was unable to do so because the nurse had plucked the infant away from his mother and put him in a basket under the bed for protection as the raid was continuing.

Mimi was not deterred by the raids on her way to the hospital nor on the way home to tell her family the good news. For the rest of her life she would tell people about the night that John had been born in the middle of an air raid.

The Third Reich air attacks on Liverpool affected the McCartney family in a different way. Jim McCartney, a 38 year-old cotton salesman, stopped by the old McCartney homestead on 11 Scargreen Street in West Derby, Liverpool. His newlywed sister Jin and her husband Harry Harris were living there. Also living at the house was Jin’s friend Mary Patricia Mohin, a 32 year-old nurse. During dinner, the air raid began with Liverpool harbor getting the worst of it but other areas being hit, too. All four were forced to spend the night in the basement as the raid continued, which gave Jim McCartney and Mary Patricia Mohin ample opportunity to get to know each other. In a 1984 interview in Liverpool with rock biographer Geoffrey Giuliano, Mike McCartney described his parents’ first meeting during the air raid that night by saying, “It was love under duress.”

One year later Jim and Mary Patricia were married on 15 April 1941 in a full church wedding at St. Swithin’s Roman Catholic Chapel in Gill Moss, Liverpool. Their first child, James Paul McCartney, was born in Walton Hospital on June 18, 1942. Their second child, Peter Michael McCartney, was born in Walton Hospital on January 7, 1944.

In attendance at the McCartney’s wedding in 1941 was Jim’s sister, Jin Harris, who introduced the two newlyweds amidst an air raid. Of course, Paul’s aunt Jin Harris was immortalized in the 1976 Wings’ hit “Let ‘Em In” as “Auntie Jin”. “Let ‘Em In”, from the album Wings at the Speed of Sound, reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the British pop charts.

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