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Map showing area covered.

North-East Diary

Roy Ripley &
Brian Pears
© Copyright Brian Pears 1994-2011

Sections 26 to 33

LUFTWAFFE continued

Aircraft of the Luftwaffe:-

There were many versions of some of the aircraft described here, the figures given are for the models whose number appears after the makers name. A new version would be created if, for example, an aircraft was fitted with a new tail unit, a larger bomb rack, larger engines, improved cannon or improved protection was installed or a change of role was made, the permutation was extensive, some Heinkel He 111s were adapted for the transport of 'Flying Bombs' to mount an attack on Manchester on Christmas Eve 1944 which gave the area a tiny taste of what the south had endured for many long weeks from these missiles, some falling in this area.

Table 58
DORNIER Do 17Z-2 'Flying Pencil'
TypeTwin engined medium bomber
Wing Span59'0½"
Service Ceiling26,905'
Maximum Speed255 mph
Armament4/8 m/c guns
Bomb Load1,000 kgs
Range932 miles
Crew4/5 men

Table 59
TypeTwin engined night fighter
Wing Span62'4"
Service Ceilingnot revealed
Maximum Speed320 mph
Armament4 cannon + 4 m/c guns
Range1,088 miles
Crew4 men

Table 60
FIESELER FZG 76 'V1' 'Doodle Bug' 'Buzz Bomb'
TypeFlying bomb
Wing Span17'6"
Maximum Ceiling10,000'
Average Ceiling2,500'
Maximum Speed390/410 mph
Stalling Speed150 mph
Explosive Charge850 kgs
Range150 miles

Table 61
TypeSingle seater fighter
Wing Span34'5½"
Service Ceiling34,775'
Maximum Speed382 mph
Armament4 cannon + 2 m/c guns
Range497 miles
Crew1 man

Table 62
TypeFour engined long range maritime reconnaissance
Wing Span109'1"
Service Ceiling19,030'
Maximum Speed224 mph
Armament1 cannon + 5 m/c guns
Missiles2 x HS 293A missiles
Range2,175 miles
Crew6 men

Table 63
HEINKEL He 111H-16
TypeTwin engined medium bomber
Wing Span74'1¾"
Service Ceiling27,890'
Maximum Speed252 mph
Armament1 cannon + 6/7 m/c guns
Bomb Load3,250 kgs
Range1,200 miles
Crew5 men

Table 64
Wing Span73'1"
Service Ceiling18,040'
Maximum Speed186 mph
Armament1 cannon + 4 m/c guns
Bomb Load1,250 kgs
Range1,740 miles
Crew3 men

Table 65
JUNKERS Ju 87D-1 'Stuka'
TypeDive bomber
Wing Span45'3½"
Service Ceiling23,950'
Maximum Speed255 mph
Armament4 m/c guns
Bomb Load1,800 kgs
Range954 miles
Crew2 men

Table 66
TypeTwin engined medium bomber
Wing Span65'7½"
Maximum Speed280 mph
Service Ceiling26,905'
Armament5 m/c guns
Bomb Load2,000 kgs
Range1,696 miles
Crew4 men

Table 67
TypeSingle seater fighter
Wing Span32'4½"
Service Ceiling34,450'
Maximum Speed348 mph
Armament2/3 cannon + 2 m/c guns
Range410 miles
Crew1 man

Table 68
TypeTwo seater heavy fighter
Wing Span53'3¼"
Service Ceiling32,810'
Maximum Speed326 mph
Armament2 cannon + 5 m/c guns
Range680 miles
Crew2 men

Table 69
TypeHigh performance bomber
Wing Span53'9"
Maximum Speed390 mph
Service Ceiling34,000'
Bomb Loadoverload up to 1,000 kgs
Crew2 men

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The very survival of Great Britain depended on 3,000 ocean going merchantmen importing 55 million tons of supplies annually: every gallon of oil, half the food consumed and most raw materials, yet such was Britain's plight, that only fifty-six special escort vessels were available to protect them. The Merchant Navy found itself in the front line on the very first day of the war. At 19.45 on the 3rd September 1939, the U 30 torpedoed and sank 'S.S. Athenia'. When the conflict ended, the loss of British registered ships alone amounted to 2,426 ships, their gross registered tonnage - 11,331,933 - to May 1945.

Never a large force in comparison with the the fighting services - about 185,000, with an estimated 144,000 at sea at any given date - casualties at times were greater than the contemporary losses in the armed forces. Deaths due directly or indirectly were estimated by the Registrar-General of Shipping and Seamen on 30th June 1952 as 31,908. It is known, however, that this total, which does not include DEMS gunners and those of the Maritime Royal Artillery is far from complete. If a man died ashore of disease due to his service at sea, (quite often this would be TB due to the appalling conditions in which the men lived, particularly on the lower deck) and if he had no dependant relatives to claim a pension, his death would not figure in the Registrar-General's lists. The MN also contained throughout the war many young men without dependants, and a number of these men died without leaving trace. Additionally some 4,200 seamen were seriously injured and whilst merchant seamen taken prisoner were covered by the Geneva Convention they were not strictly classed as prisoners of war. Nevertheless 2,985 seamen from 211 British ships were held at the Milag Nord Camp, Westertimkie, near Bremen.

It is interesting to note that the following comment is made in F.C. Moffatt's book 'Constable' - " Being a port (referring to South Shields) many local seamen were in the Merchant Navy, and more men were lost, proportionately, than in any other town in the Commonwealth".

Honours and awards to the MN and the men of the Fishing Fleets included 5 GCs - 1 Empire Gallantry Medal - 50 CBEs - 1,077 OBEs - 1,291 MBEs - 18 DSOs - 213 DSCs - 11 Albert Medals - 49 George Medals - 421 DSMs - 24 Sea Gallantry Medals - 1,717 BEMs - 994 Mentioned in Despatches - 2568 Commendations and 10 Knighthoods - Britain could not and would not have survived without these seamen and fishermen.

After the war, at his trial at Nuremburg, Admiral Dönitz quoting the allied figure of ships sunk by German U Boats, estimated that in the course of the war, between 5,000 and 6,000 submarine actions had taken place. Out of a total U Boat force of 40,000 men, 30,000 had not returned. Only 5,000 of these were captured. German losses of submarines were nearly 700.

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The Luftwaffe's first raid on a sizeable town and industrial target was on 25th May 1940 just inside Middlesbrough boundary at Cargo Fleet/ South Bank. Middlesbrough had 481 alerts during the war.

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The North Sea, particularly the English East coast and the Thames Estuary is very shallow and well suited for minelaying, through these waters many ships sailed every day moving vital supplies for Britain's war effort. These areas were vulnerable, not only to offensive mine warfare but also to air attack and attack from light surface forces (S Boats) due to the proximity of the German bases in the Ems, Weser and Elbe estuaries.

The British Admiralty were aware of this danger from air and surface attacks but didn't appreciate the potential of using surface forces for minelaying, and attributed such operations to U Boats. Mines were certainly laid by U Boats, 14 type IIB and IIC boats being involved by the end of 1939, each boat carrying 8 mines, even allowing some boats more than one operation, the number of mines laid can only be small in comparison to the number laid by destroyers. A few mines were also laid by the seaplanes of the Naval Air Command West, whose obsolete Heinkel He 59s, He 60s and He 115s operated from bases in the East Fresian Islands. Fortunately for Britain the aircraft minelaying offensive was dealt a serious set-back when they dropped a new and secret mine on the mud-flats of the Thames Estuary, whence it was recovered and with great gallantry on the part of one of the Royal Navy's mine disposal teams, the secrets of the magnetic mine were revealed and a method (degaussing) was found to neutralise it. Obviously this benefited the ships that sailed from the North-East, as well as elsewhere.

Britain also laid minefields, but made public their dimensions and locality these fields were there to protect our inshore convoy routes and the vital coal traffic between the Tyne and Thames. The area, declared on the 23rd September 1939, was 25 miles wide and 25 miles offshore, however due to a shortage of mines and minelayers, the only minefields in this area up to the end of 1939 were German, the first British fields not being laid until January 1940. British mines laid by the end of the war totalled 263,088, the majority in the large defensive mine barrage; in offensive fields, about 76,700. Of this total some 56,300 were laid by aircraft of all types. The Admiralty announced in 1946 that approximately 1,050 Axis warships and merchant ships were sunk as a result of British minelaying, and a further 540 damaged.

German minefields were very effective, and they were laid on our doorstep, right under our noses, for details of these German forays into our coastal waters see diary entries for 17th/18th October 1939, 12th/13th December 1939 and 10th/11th January 1940.

It is interesting to note the fate of the German destroyers that took part in mining operations off the North-East coast The 'Wilhelm Heidkamp' was torpedoed and sunk by 'HMS Hardy' whilst at anchor in Narvik harbour on 11/4/40 - The 'Friedrich Eckholdt' was sunk by 'HMS Sheffield's' gunfire in the Battle of Barents Sea on 31/12/42.- The 'Diether von Roeder' was scuttled on 13/4/40 following the second Battle of Narvik: she had been irreparably damaged on 10th April. - The 'Karl Galster' was allocated to USSR in 1946 and renamed 'Prochnyi' then scrapped in the mid 60s. - The 'Hans Lüdemann' was scuttled in Rombaksfjord during the second Battle of Narvik on 13/4/40. - The 'Hans Lody' was allocated to the UK (pennant number R38, then H40) in 1945: sold to BISCO and arrived at T. Young (Sunderland) for breaking up on 17/7/49. - The 'Hermann Künne' was beached and scuttled in Herjangsfjord during the second Battle of Narvik on 13/4/40. - The 'Friedrich Ihn' was allocated to the USSR at the end of the war and disposed of in the 1960s. - The 'Erich Steinbrinck' was allocated to the USSR in 1946 and disposed of in the 1960s. - The 'Richard Beitzen' was sold to C.W. Dorkin for breaking up and arrived at Gateshead 10/1/49. - The 'Bruno Heinemann' was mined and sank off the eastern entrance to the English Channel whilst on passage to Brest 25/1/42. - The 'Anton Schmitt' was hit by 2 torpedoes and broken in half whilst at anchor in Narvik harbour 11/4/40. - The 'Theodore Riedel' was condemned as the French 'Kleber' 3/4/57. - The 'Max Schultz' was bombed in error by a Heinkel He 111 and possibly also hit a mine, sank off Borkum 22/2/40. - The 'Leberecht Maass' was bombed in error by a Heinkel He 111 and possibly also hit a mine, sank NW of Borkum 22/2/40. - The 'Erich Koellner' was destroyed by British surface forces off Djupvik whilst in a damaged condition and acting as a floating battery 13/4/40.

In conclusion and to avoid confusion, an explanation on German destroyer names. Originally they were given the names of men looked upon by the Germans as naval heroes, around the time of WW1. 'Anton Schmitt' was the full name of a destroyer but was refered to simply as 'Schmitt' when mentioned in books and in the diary. However the practice of naming them appears to have been abandoned at the end of 1939. In addition they were also given the equivalent of the Royal Navy's pennant number, the 'Schmitt' for example was designated as 'Z22'. German destroyers built after the 'Z22' were simply given a pennant number. The names and numbers of the destroyers mentioned in the diary are:- Z1 - 'Leberecht Maass' / Z3 - 'Max Schultz' / Z4 - 'Richard Beitzen' / Z6 - 'Theodore Riedel' / Z8 - 'Bruno Heinemann' / Z10 - 'Hans Lody' / Z12 - 'Erich Giese' / Z13 - 'Erich Koellner' / Z14 - 'Friedrich Ihn' / Z15 - 'Erich Steinbrinck' / Z16 - 'Friedrich Eckholdt' / Z17 - 'Diether von Roeder' / Z18 - 'Hans Lüdemann' / Z19 - 'Hermann Künne' / Z20 - 'Karl Galster' / Z21 - 'Wilhelm Heidkamp' / Z22 - 'Anton Schmitt'.

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Introduced in February 1941, the shelters were supplied for people who were considered to be at risk and had not been provided with an Anderson Shelter. It was an steel indoor shelter bed, 6'6" long, 4' wide and about 3'6" high in the form of a table with removable wire mesh sides. The greatest advantage over the Anderson Shelter was that they were to be erected indoors, usually on the lower floor of the house, and were warm and dry, therefore could be slept in, in comparative comfort whilst air raids were threatened. They were said to be able to shelter easily, two average sized adults and a child, who would be lying on the floor of the cage which was sprung, and able to take a mattress (not supplied). When not in use as a shelter, the sides could be removed and the steel top used as a table. They were given free to those households whose income did not exceed £350 a year. To others, the cost was £8.

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In late 1940 it became clear that Britain's firefighting capability was impaired by the individuality of each of the local fire brigades, for instance when a large town had been 'blitzed' and many fires raged, it was customary for the beleaguered brigade to call on its neighbours for help, but this help was rendered useless if the neighbours standpipe did not fit the local hydrants - this happened at Portsmouth. So many differences in equipment emerged that a program of standardisation was required to cover the shortages. The only thing the Fire Brigades did not lack was men of courage.

The National Fire Service was formed on Monday 18th August 1941, when 1,400 local fire brigades were amalgamated into 33 Fire Forces. Each Fire Force consisted of divisions of 100 pumps, sub-divided into columns of 50 pumps, companies of 10 pumps and sections of 5. Rank structure was made up of Chief Regional Fire Officer, Fire Force Commander, Assistant Fire Force Commander, Divisional Officer, Column Officer, Senior Company Officer, Company Officer, Section Leader, Leading Fireman and Fireman. The Fire Forces within our boundaries were numbers 1-2-4 and 5, with their headquarters at Gosforth, Middlesbrough, Leeds and Hessle near Hull, respectively. By the end of the war 793 firemen and 25 firewomen were killed, over 7,000 were injured, many had been blinded by heat or sparks.

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An official canteen organization whose aim was to provide serving men and women with a homelike atmosphere during leisure hours. NAAFI. personnel wore uniform but were not subject to military discipline, the rules governing men serving in the NAAFI on board HM ships were slightly different. The pay ranged from £1 for counter, general and kitchen assistants to £2/5/- (£2.25) for qualified cooks, plus board, lodging and uniform.

Whilst serving on board 'HMS Petard', a 16-year-old NAAFI canteen worker Tommy Brown from North Shields. He helped save from a sinking U Boat, vital coding equipment and documents which later helped in the Battle of the Atlantic. He was awarded the George Medal but didn't live to collect it. In 1945, his last ship 'HMS Belfast' was docked at South Shields, and whilst staying at his home, tragically died in a house fire there.

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the first place on Britain's railway system to suffer damage.

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