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1st December 1940 to
The tanker 'British Officer' (6,990t) was nearing the entrance to the Tyne at the end of her voyage from Sheerness, when she set off a mine. This caused flooding in her after section and killed fifteen of her forty-seven crew. She was without steam and needed assistance. The Tyne tugs 'Joffre', 'Langton' together with 'Wonder', 'King Edward VII' and 'Great Emperor' were towing her between the piers when her stern grounded, with her bows being high out of the water, ropes were passed ashore to the south pier to prevent the tanker blocking the channel.
In the gale force winds, the 'British Officer' now took on a serious list, the 'Joffre', 'Langton' assisted by the 'Plover' took it in turns to keep the grounded ships head, parallel to the channel. On the 13th December it was the 'Plover's' turn for the holding tow when just after midnight she suddenly found herself moving slowly ahead towing only the fore-part of the ship, the stern was still tied up to the south pier. To clear the hazard the fore section was beached upriver and broken up, her after section was cleared by divers where she lay, the ribs and keel still lie there to this day. She was built in 1922.
*** It is ironic that the skipper of the 'Plover', Andrew Berry, together with his wife were killed in an air raid on South Shields in April 1941. ***
The shipping incident related above, was to be the indirect cause of the sinking of another ship, the 'SS Oslofjord' (18,673t) a Norwegian ship was involved in a collision in April 1940, off New York Harbour whilst carrying the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway. She was laid up at the Bayonne Terminal. On Saturday, October 26th 1940, she was taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia to be fitted out as a transport ship, to be completed by November of that year. She then set sail for Newcastle via Liverpool to join the Ministry of Transport Fleet.
On this fateful day she was to follow the 'British Officer' up the river Tyne when the 'British Officer' struck a mine (which see). The 'Oslofjord' was then ordered to stand off by the Harbour Master, changing her course, she became the victim of another German mine. She sank S of South Shields pier at 55°00'10.8"N - 01°23'43.5"W on sand in 12 metres of water. All but one of her two hundred and four crew were saved. Little is left of her remains which is spread over a large area of the sea-bed. She was built in 1938.
Day 456. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.36, begins: 17.13
On Admiralty service, 'MV Jolly Girls' (483t) was on a voyage from London to Rosyth carrying a cargo of submarine cable and ammunition, when she struck a mine, the Cullercoats lifeboat was requested to proceed to a position three-quarters of a mile E of Tynemouth piers, however the 'No 2 Examination Cutter' had rescued the crew of ten and taken the 'Jolly Girls' in tow, but it sank at 55°00'29"N - 01°23'08"W.
Day 457. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.38, begins: 17.12
'SS W. Hendrik' (4,360t) cargo ship, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, Canada to the Tees and the Tyne with a cargo of timber was sunk by a Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft about 200 miles W of Ireland. Five of her crew were lost.
A Spitfire landing at Woolsington airfield (now Newcastle airport), overturned when the pilot failed to notice the anti-invasion obstructions placed there and had to swerve the aircraft violently to miss them.
Day 458. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.40, begins: 17.12
The British oil barge 'Adam' foundered off Berwickshire at 55°52'30"N - 01°59'00"W.
Day 459. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.41, begins: 17.11
Enemy aircraft active with incidents reported at Driffield and minelaying reported off the mouths of the Tees and Humber and off Flamborough Head.
Night 460. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.10, ends: 08.44
'SS Supremity' (554t) cargo ship, Blyth to London with a cargo of coal was sunk by a mine in the Thames Estuary.
Day 461. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.44, begins: 17.10
The minesweeping trawler 'Cortina' sank after a collision off the Humber.
Day 462. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.46, begins: 17.09
'SS Ashcrest' (5,645t) cargo ship, Philadelphia to Middlesbrough was sunk by U 140 in the North Atlantic with the loss of thirty-seven of her crew.
Day 463. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.47, begins: 17.08
A No 610 Squadron Spitfire P9311 belly-landed at Acklington. Sgt McDougal-Black was safe, but the aircraft damaged.
Day 464. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.48, begins: 17.08
04.45.. Hull.. Incendiary raid only, around Hedon Road, Paragon Street and Bankside. Six IB clusters were dropped. A building in Alfred Gelder Street caught fire, but it was only one of forty in the City and several fire brigade units were needed to combat the flames. As the water flowed from the hoses, sheets of ice formed across the street, firemen could not keep their feet, despite the difficulties they managed to save the nearby Guildhall. The same day, men rowed in small boats to put out fires on barges in the middle of Prince's Dock. When all was quiet it was found that the firemen's hoses were frozen and could not be rolled up, they had to be carried in lengths and thawed out at the various stations. No casualties were reported. Minelaying was also suspected and reported.
A No 610 Squadron Spitfire P9451 lost in accident at Eglingham. McGregor killed.
Night 466. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.08, ends: 08.52
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 04.43, All Clear: 06.33
Day 467. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.52, begins: 17.08
Public Alert: 15.10, All-Clear: 15.22
Raids plotted and bombs reported at Acklington, Scarborough, Bridlington and in the Leeds area. Tyne/Tees AA Batteries in action.
23.20.. Co Durham.. Cleadon.. A very large calibre bomb or land mine fell on the roadway in Woodlands Road, Cleadon leaving a crater roughly 52' wide and 18' deep. A house known as the "Minories" which was unoccupied sustained consider-able damage. Minor damage was caused to about forty other houses nearby. Water and gas mains were not damaged, and there were no injuries.
Night 467. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.08, ends: 08.53
A No 220 Squadron Hudson P5151 crashed on landing at Thornaby. Sgt Towe safe, aircraft damaged.
Day 468. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.53, begins: 17.08
South Shields.. An AA shell fell in Tadema Road, damaging two houses. Two people were taken to hospital suffering from shock, No other casualties.
Co Durham.. Boldon - damage to houses.
Night 468. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.08, ends: 08.54
'SS Kyleglen' (3,670t) cargo ship, Middlesbrough to Baltimore was sunk by U 100 in the North Atlantic with the loss of thirty-six of her crew.
Wellington 1C No.R1268 of 304 Squadron whilst on a cross country went off its course and flew into the side of a hill in low cloud at West Edmondsley, 5 miles NW of Durham. The aircraft was badly damaged, the captain of the aircraft F/O Waroczewski sustained a fractured wrist and laceration of the face and the injuries to the remaining members of the crew were F/O Kostuck damaged wrist and laceration of face, F/O Stanczuk fractured leg and laceration of face and chest, and Sgt Boczkowski injury to chest and laceration of face.
Day 469. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.54, begins: 17.08
'SS N.C. Monberg' (2,301t) an ex Danish cargo ship, Tyne for London with coal was sunk by an E Boat off Aldeburgh. Twelve of her crew were lost.
Day 470. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.55, begins: 17.08
Bombs were reported to have been dropped at Leeds and Saltburn in Yorkshire and the railway between York and Sheffield, blocked. It is probable that today's air raid on Saltburn saw the destruction of the Victorian bandstand there. In 1994, a lady appeal fund organiser asked the staff of the German Embassy for a donation to help rebuild it. Her request resulted in a sum of money being donated by the Embassy staff, they have been invited to the reopening, due to take place in the summer of 1994.
Today a coastal convoy ran into a minefield in the Thames Estuary off Southend. Five ships were sunk, their ports of origin were all in the North-East, and thirty-two seamen were lost.
Night 470. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.08, ends: 08.55
02.55.. Hull.. Incendiary raid only, an IB cluster was dropped in the Greek Street and Woodlands Road area. No fires were started. No damage or casualties were reported. No air raid warning was sounded.
Night 471. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.08, ends: 08.56
Ships of two coastal convoys ran into a minefield in the Thames Estuary off Southend. Five cargo ships were sunk, they were:- 'SS Inver' (1,543t) Blyth to Cowes with coal. Fourteen crew lost. 'SS Malrix' (703t) Hull to London with coal. Six crew lost. 'SS Beneficent' (2,944t) Sunderland to London with coal. Six crew lost. 'SS Aqueity' (370t) London to Sunderland. Two crew lost. 'SS Belvedere' (869t) London for the Tyne. Four crew lost.
Day 472. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.56, begins: 17.08
The pilot of a Whitley bomber operating from a northern airfield, returning from a mission, found it impossible to land at his base due to thick fog. This is his description of the events that followed:- "We couldn't communicate with the ground although we could hear them talking to other aircraft. So we had to fly around and try and find some other place to land. It was unfortunate because in 1940 any field of any size had ditches dug in it or poles sticking up - anti invasion measures.
"Then I remembered in my lectures somebody had told me that if I flew over an English ack-ack battery and gave a certain signal, they would lay down their searchlights in a line with an aerodrome which would be clear and would receive me. I flew over this battery and gave this signal. It didn't seem to work at first, but after a while it did.
"All the lights came down and pointed in one direction. Fine! I'm going to get down now and I flew along the beams right out to sea! What happened I don't know, whether they thought, this is a German intruder! Maybe they were trying to deceive us.
"Anyway, out to sea. Well, that was no good. And then I suddenly remembered Flamborough Head, maybe I can get down there? I tried and actually touched the ground but then I saw something looming up in front, out of the fog, so I had to pull up again, right over the cliff and out to sea. I started climbing, thinking hard what am I going to do next? By this time I had been in the air eleven hours and twenty-five minutes!
"Finally, the fuel ran out so I had to ditch in the sea. The aircraft manufacturer said they would float for five minutes. By the time I got out, the last one, the tail was under water. The dinghy was in the tail so I had to decide if we should dive in and get it or not, but the plane was going down. Better try and hang on together. We were under water to the shoulders. Every now and again I sent off a Verey pistol - we must have been two or three miles out to sea.
"Eventually we heard the sound of an engine coming towards us - I don't know how long we'd been there - maybe two and a half, three hours? Suddenly everything went silent and we thought, oh hell, they can't find us in the fog! Later on we heard the splash of oars. We hailed and they found us. As we were getting aboard, the planes aerial snapped, wound itself round the navigator, and we had a heck of a struggle getting him unwound! He nearly drowned.
"When we landed we were sent off to hospital to check how we were. We'd been in the water for several hours. That was about the eighteenth of December 1940. On Christmas Day morning we were walking down Bridlington promenade and lo and behold there was my aircraft on the beach - it hadn't sunk!
That was just one trip and altogether I did thirteen. There were problems on all of them but one." ... The pilot, Bill Beverley, had joined the RAFVR before the war when he was nineteen, and his skill as a pilot brought his crew through several very near shaves ... eventually he became a test pilot.
Day 473. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.57, begins: 17.08
Trawler 'Proficient' on Admiralty service grounded at Whitby and lost.
Day 474. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.58, begins: 17.08
A No 607 Squadron Hurricane P3962 crashed on landing at Usworth (Sgt Sinclair) aircraft destroyed.
Day 475. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.58, begins: 17.09
Bombs were reported to have been dropped at Leeds and Bradford.
Night 475. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.09, ends: 08.59
Minelaying in the mouth of the Humber.
Night 476. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.09, ends: 09.00
Bombs fell on Linton on Ouse.
According to the Home Security's Operations Bulletin No 25. 'Fire Brigade reinforcements sent from Newcastle (and several other places) to Manchester'. (Manchester suffered two very heavy air raids on the nights of 22nd/23rd and 23rd/24th of December).
Night 478. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.10, ends: 09.00
'SS Ardanbhan' (4,980t) cargo ship, Hull to Mar del Plata, Argentina with a cargo of coal was sunk by the Italian submarine 'Tazzoli', S of Iceland. All of the crew were lost.
Day 482. All times BST. Blackout ends: 09.01, begins: 17.13
'SS Pinewood' (2,466t) cargo ship, London to Blyth was sunk by a mine off Southend. Six of her crew were lost.
Day 489. All times BST. Blackout ends: 09.01, begins: 17.20
Minelaying off Flamborough Head.
Minor bombing raid reported at Newton le Willows.
Night 489. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.20, ends: 09.01
Yorkshire.. Bombs reported to have fallen during a dusk attack on York, Malton and near Linton on Ouse airfield.
Night 490. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.22, ends: 09.00
Co Durham.. Some damage was done in County Durham where fires were brought under control by 20.00 hours, and bombs were dropped at other points on the North-East Coast.
18.40.. Darlington.. HE and IBs dropped at Darlington. Two fires were caused at the Faverdale Works of the LNER and at a Bakehouse at Commercial Street, but both were quickly brought under control. Other IBs fell in open spaces and were extinguished. One HE fell on the boiler house at the Stooperdale Works of the LNER and caused considerable damage. Two HEs fell in the Faverdale Works of the LNER causing no damage other than craters and one hit the gable end of a building shop. One UXB in Faverdale Works. No casualties.
Night 491. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.23, ends: 09.00
'SS Empire Thunder' (5,965t) cargo ship, Sunderland to William Head, sunk by U 124 in the North-western Approaches, with the loss of nine crew.
Day 492. All times BST. Blackout ends: 09.00, begins: 17.24
18.05.. Newcastle.. Walker.. Two HEs fell in the river near the Naval Yard at Walker. Windows in unoccupied houses near Heworth Staithes, on the other side of the river, were broken. No casualties.
Night 492. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.24, ends: 08.59
'SS Bassano' (4,843t) cargo ship, New York to Hull sunk by U 105, NW of Rockall. One crew member lost.
Day 495. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.58, begins: 17.29
Minelaying off the Humber.
Night 495. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.29, ends: 08.57
Night 498. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.34, ends: 08.54
Public Alert: 19.50, All-Clear: 20.02
A Halifax bomber operating from Linton on Ouse airfield near York, was on a climb and consumption test, when an engine caught fire at 12,000 ft. The fire burnt off the tail control surfaces and the pilot lost control. The aircraft crashed 11.55 near Baldersby St James, 3½ miles N of Dishforth. The crew of six were killed.
Day 499. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.54, begins: 17.36
Enemy aircraft on their way to bomb Derby crossed the coast at Flamborough Head.
Night 499. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.36, ends: 08.53
Price controls applied to 21 foodstuffs to prevent speculation.
Day 500. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.53, begins: 17.37
Between 02.00 and 05.00. Enemy night fighters attacked northern airfields, Driffield and Church Fenton among them. At the latter, three of the five British aircraft engaged on night training flights were attacked and a Blenheim and two Defiants were forced to make crash landings. There were no casualties. On the airfield, the raiders dropped some eighty to ninety IBs but no damage was reported to have been done. The airfield defences were unable to engage because of the presence of other friendly aircraft.
Bombing took place on a district of York where an Air Raid Warden's post was damaged, and minelaying took place off Scarborough.
Yorkshire.. The attacks by night fighters of I/NJG2 achieved a measure of success. Between 02.00 and 05.00 hours nine different plots were tracked to airfields at Church Fenton.. and three of five aircraft engaged on night training at Church Fenton (the home of No 54 Operational Training Unit) came under attack. The three aircraft, a Blenheim and two Defiants, were forced to make crash landings, but there were no casualties. The airfield defences were unable to engage because of the presence of other friendly aircraft.
Night 501. All times BST. Blackout begins: 17.39, ends: 08.51
07.53.. Co Durham.. Consett.. Five HEs dropped in open fields about 160 yards south of Crookhall Farm, Crookhall. No damage and no casualties.
Day 502. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.51, begins: 17.41
Northumberland.. Cambois and neighbourhood.. After the explosion of a mine at Cambois, 69 premises were found to be damaged in:- Albert Street, Balfour Street, Beaumont Street, Bowes Street, Burt Street, Gladstone Street, Goschen Street, Hambledon Street, High Quay, Northumberland Street, Quay Road, Regent Street, Stanley Street, Thompson Street, Victoria Inn, Victoria Street, Willow Avenue.
'SS Bonnington Court' (4,909t) cargo ship, Harwich for the Tyne, sunk by German aircraft near the 'Sunk Lightvessel'.
Day 505. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.48, begins: 17.46
Compulsory firewatching in UK was introduced from today. All men and women from 16 to 60 must register for part-time Civil Defence service. For the time being, the only requirement will be 48 hours firewatching per month by men. Factories, offices, shops, cinemas, theatres, churches, blocks of flats and private houses in the danger areas are to arrange fire-watching rotas. Large buildings will provide their own watchers. Smaller premises will work together.
Around this date a new National Service Bill introduced. Because of manpower shortages those called up can opt for, or be directed to, serve in Police War Reserve, AFS or Civil Defence First Aid Parties instead of the armed forces. Currently 90% of CD workers are volunteers. Compulsory Civil Defence service will also apply to those registered "conditionally" as conscientious objectors. As well as being directed to continue their old jobs, work on the land or in hospital or ambulance service, they can now be directed into CD but not Police War Reserve which sometimes carries arms. Since call-up began 31,000 out of 2,000,000 have registered as objectors.
Day 506. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.47, begins: 17.48
'SS Corheath' (1,096t) cargo ship, Portsmouth to Blyth, was sunk by a mine in the Thames Estuary.
The communist newspaper 'Daily Worker' closed down under Defence Regulations.
Day 507. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.46, begins: 17.50
The naval fleet tug 'St Cyrus' and the minesweeping trawler 'Luda Lady' were sunk by mines off the Humber.
Day 508. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.44, begins: 17.52
'SS Lurigethan' (3,564t) cargo ship, Port Sudan to Hull was sunk by Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft, 200 miles from the Irish coast. Sixteen of her crew were lost.
The Newcastle-registered 'SS Langleegorse' (4,542 t), was attacked and sunk by Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft some 200 miles off the Irish coast while en route from Durban to London. All hands were lost including the Master, South Shields born Richard Edmondson, aged 26.
Day 509. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.43, begins: 17.54
12.10.. Co Durham.. Silksworth.. One HE dropped in a ploughed field about 100 yards S of Newport Grove, Silksworth. No damage or casualties.
Day 512. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.38, begins: 18.00
Public Alert: 11.47, All-Clear: 12.33
08.53.. Newcastle.. Walker Naval Yard.. Two HEs fell from an enemy aircraft which dived to 250', the bombs narrowly missed an almost completed aircraft carrier (this was 'HMS Victorious' which survived the war). One HE landed on a jetty making a crater 25'in diameter. The other made an elongated hole 4'in length which filled with water from a fractured water main. A number of workmen were injured on the jetty, injuries also sustained from flying glass in the anglesmiths' shop. Thirty-one injured were treated by the yard's first aid party. Two of them were then sent to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (one died the following day), two were sent to Wharrier Street First Aid Post and twelve to Walker Hospital.
08.50.. Co Durham.. Pelaw Staithes.. A German aeroplane machine gunned No 3 AA Post near Pelaw Staithes, no injuries resulted.
Day 513. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.36, begins: 18.02
'SS Grelrosa' (4,574t) cargo ship, New York to the Tyne with a cargo of wheat, was sunk by Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft about 400 miles W of Northern Ireland. Five of her crew were lost.
Day 514. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.35, begins: 18.04
17.40.. Co Durham.. Stockton-on-Tees.. One HE or a mine was dropped at Stockton on Tees. It fell in clay near the Recreation Ground, Tilery, opposite the Report Centre, leaving a crater 30'in diameter. Machine gun fire was heard between 17.35 and 17.40, no casualties and no damage were reported.
'SS Pandion' (1,944t) cargo ship, Tyne to Portugal was damaged by Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft, W of Malin Head. On the 30th January she ran aground in Lough Swilly and broke in two.
Day 515. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.33, begins: 18.06
Northumberland.. Whitley Bay.. Bombing reported, some damage to property.
Co Durham.. South Shields.. One mine was cast ashore& exploded 50 yds., south of the Pier. No casualties.
Day 516. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.32, begins: 18.08
Blyth.. Explosion of a shell fired from an armoured train standing in Blyth Station. Damage in:- Bowes Street and Delaval Terrace.
Day 517. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.30, begins: 18.10
Air raid sirens sounded once in past fortnight and on another occasion when no air raid messages had been received, two bombs dropped on a shipyard during daylight from an enemy aircraft flying very low, and just missed an almost complete aircraft carrier. Bombs fell on soft ground and did not explode. Concern by workmen on absence of warning or AA fire. [This presumably refers to the raid on Walker Naval Yard on the 27th January].
Day 518. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.28, begins: 18.12
Day 520. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.24, begins: 18.16
Public Alert: 12.30, All-Clear: 12.41
At anchor in the convoy anchorage in the Humber, the cargo ship 'SS Gwynwood' (1,177t) sank after a parachute mine landed on her deck aft and blew up. She was on a voyage from London to Sunderland.
Day 521. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.22, begins: 18.19
23.10.. Hull.. Two HEs on Goddard Avenue. Four people were killed and many made homeless.
Night 521. All times BST. Blackout begins: 18.19, ends: 08.20
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 18.50, All Clear: 02.27
'MV Angularity' (501t) on a journey from Ipswich to Newcastle with a cargo of phosphates was sunk by an E Boat in the Shipwash Channel.
Day 523. All times BST. Blackout ends: 08.18, begins: 18.23
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