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Map showing area covered.

North-East Diary

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

Sections 34 to 49

[34] .. No 1 REGION

Sir Arthur Lambert, who was the North Regional Commissioner, included these figures in his Official Report, at the end of the war.

Table 70
The County Boroughs Killed Injured and Detained in Hospital Slightly Injured
Newcastle CB. 141 178 409
Tynemouth CB. 220 163 274
Gateshead CB. 5 1 12
South Shields CB. 152 294 287
Sunderland CB. 273 389 725
West Hartlepool CB. 46 50 84
Darlington CB. -- 2 8
Middlesbrough CB 88 158 421
Totals 925 1235 2220
Total killed or injured 4380
Northumberland County Killed Injured and Detained in Hospital Slightly Injured
Alnwick RDC 10 16 42
Castle Ward RDC 1 -- --
Norham & Islandshire RDC -- 3 4
Rothbury RDC -- 3 --
Amble UDC -- -- 2
Ashington UDC 1 19 44
Bedlington UDC -- 2 18
Longbenton UDC 6 10 21
Newbiggin UDC 7 5 3
Newburn UDC 3 -- 20
Seaton Valley UDC 6 11 23
Whitley Bay/Monkseaton UDC 34 43 184
Berwick MB 21 4 51
Blyth MB 4 12 146
Wallsend MB 36 34 88
Totals 129 162 646
Total killed or injured 937
Durham County Killed Injured and Detained in Hospital Slightly Injured
Barnard Castle RDC 1 2 1
Chester le Street RDC 8 29 10
Easington RDC 36 18 93
Sedgefield RDC -- 1 --
Stockton RDC -- -- 17
Sunderland RDC 13 6 101
Billingham UDC 15 21 49
Bishop Auckland UDC 1 2 5
Blaydon UDC 9 9 126
Boldon UDC 11 11 73
Felling UDC -- -- 5
Hebburn UDC 26 12 72
Houghton UDC -- 2 3
Seaham UDC 51 62 157
Stanley UDC -- -- 1
Washington UDC -- -- 1
Whickham UDC 1 4 4
Hartlepool MB 22 16 77
Jarrow MB 38 42 113
Stockton MB 21 10 56
Totals 253 247 964
Total killed or injured 1464
Regional Total 6781

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The Operations Room of No 13 Group, Fighter Command was situated in a bunker under government offices at Kenton Bar (NZ217674) and there was an associated "Group Filter Room" in a separate bunker at Blakelaw Quarry (NZ214669). The latter analysed radar plots and only passed on those reports relating to "hostile" aircraft to Group. The Blakelaw Quarry bunker, the entrance to which is now situated between two high-rise blocks of flats, is currently used for Sea Cadet training purposes and is designated "T.S. Nelson". The Kenton Bar bunker was used for Civil Defence purposes in the 1950's and it is still in a reasonable state of preservation. There is a possibility that it may be taken over by the Imperial War Museum.

The Sector Operations Room was initially located at RAF Usworth but was moved to RAF Ouston (NZ080700) when it opened in March 1941.

The Anti-Aircraft Gun Operations Room was situated at Low Gosforth House on the southern edge of Gosforth Park (NZ245703). This continued its military role until about 1951 when a bomb-proof concrete structure (now the Melton Park premises of Northumberland Record Office) replaced it. Low Gosforth House was demolished around 1976. There was a similar Gun Operations Room controlling the Tees anti-aircraft guns. It is believed that this was located near Yarm on Tees, possibly at Kirklevington Hall (NZ427107).

The Regional War Room was situated at the Royal Grammar School in Jesmond. (The location of the first bombs to fall in any District was always reported to Region, who then reported to Fighter Command, to help them direct their fighters to the enemy bombers).

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It was widely assumed before the war began that poison gas would be used, not only on military personnel (as in the First World War) but also on civilians. In view of this belief a gas mask was issued to almost every man, woman and child in the country. If poison gas was detected, a rattle (like those that football fans used to swing round their heads) would be brought into use by air raid wardens, as a warning and when the gas had dispersed, an ordinary hand-bell would be rung to denote the fact.

Here is a list of gases thought to be available in 1939:-

Decontamination of the streets and buildings was a matter for specially trained and equipped squads of men, first aid decontamination of the person started with the removal of the casualty from the gas filled area - the removal and recommended destruction of clothing in the case of severely contaminated garments - washing the body thoroughly with soap and water and in the case of blister gases, the application of 'bleach cream', all to be done at the earliest possible moment. Qualified Medical help was always advised.

The list of poison gases, given above, is terrifying enough, had the British public known about the horrors being developed by the Germans, Tabun and Sarin nerve gases, for instance - the concern would have been that much greater.

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Ration allowances during the war varied from month to month, according to supplies, so the changes to the rations were numerous, these are noted in the diary if the information was readily to hand. To give an overall picture, here is a list of the least allowed and the most allowed per week:- Meat 1/- (5p) to 2/1 (10½p) worth, Bacon 4oz to 8oz, Cheese 1oz to 8oz, Fats 1oz to 8oz, Eggs ½ to 2, Tea 2oz to 4oz, Sugar 8oz to 1lb plus 2lbs for making jam, Sweets 3oz to 4oz (including chocolate), Dried Milk ¼ tin (1 tin every month), Dried Egg one eighth of a of a packet (1 packet every 2 months).

Delicacies such as offal, liver, calves and pigs feet, sausages, hash, calves head, melts and skirt were not rationed, but became very hard to obtain.

The 'points' system covered items like tinned fish, tinned fruit, beans, macaroni, dried fruit etc., and the price of rationed goods was controlled but not everyone could afford to take up their full rations until things got better around 1943 when full employment meant that most people were able to do so. Subsidised, and in some cases free school milk, cod liver oil and orange or rose hip syrup, ensured that wartime children were able to flourish despite the shortage of food.

Milk was in short supply because of the shift from arable land to crops, but there were people with special needs, taking their varying incomes into account, milk for pregnant women and the under-fives was provided free if the family earnings were below £2 per week, otherwise it was 2d per pint (less than 1p). Expectant mothers were allowed the extra pint of milk a day, previously mentioned, first choice of any supplies of oranges or bananas and the right to jump the queue. Aside from the last privilege, children up to five received the same rations, while the fives to sixteens had a ½ a pint of milk a day and extra fruit. Agricultural, manual workers and vegetarians were allowed extra cheese. Invalids and religious sects had modified rations according to their needs.

Rationing ended on the following dates:- Clothes - February 1949, Tea - October 1952, Sugar - 1953, Butter, Margarine and Cheese - 1954. Sweets and chocolate came off the ration temporarily from April to August 1949, but began again and ended completely on 4th February 1953.

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By the end of the war 69,606 members of the RAF had been killed and 22,839 had been wounded. Aircraft losses in action amounted to in total - 15,992.

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[39] .. ROYAL NAVY

By the end of the war 50,758 members of the RN had been killed and 14,663 had been wounded. Warship losses for the RN amounted to 5 battleships or battlecruisers - 8 aircraft carriers or escort carriers - 34 cruisers - 144 destroyers - 77 submarines - 56 sloops - 40 corvettes - 11 frigates - 14 armed merchant cruisers and over 2,000 miscellaneous armed vessels. Up to the end of 1945 nearly 15,000 awards had been made to officers and men of the Royal Navy, including the Dominion Navies, Royal Marines and Reserves: these included 23 Victoria Crosses and 29 George Crosses.

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The Royal Observer Corps was originally formed in 1925 and the first observers were enrolled as special constables. Taking part in air exercises in September 1925, they proved to be very effective for aircraft reporting and plotting.

By 1938, despite some difficulties, the Corps net-work of observation posts covered most of southern and eastern England. The posts were spaced about 10 miles apart, with clusters of 3 or 4 posts linked by telephone line to their district centre.

The Corps won its laurels in the Battle of Britain, and in April 1941 it was granted the official title of 'Royal Observer Corps'. Another milestone was the acceptance of women observers in September 1941.

Circumstances made the ROC change tactics and roles during the course of the war, the changes included: listing bombs dropped, fires, black-out offences and even suspicious acts. In April 1942 York ROC centre was damaged by bombs in a night air attack. In October 1942 they were equipped with an electric projector to try to give a timely warning to the defences by firing a parachute flare whenever an enemy aircraft was seen to be approaching at less than 1,000 feet.

In 1944 the ROC reached the peak of its efficiency with selected units using radar to sort out the difference between enemy night intruder sorties and RAF bombers returning from operations at night. At the same time, the safety of friendly aircraft in distress was expanded, and by 1945 over 6,100 lost or disabled planes were assisted to a safe landing.

Some 800 skilled aircraft spotters went to sea in Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships to take part in the 'Invasion of Europe'. These observers saved the lives of many allied airmen and directed AA gunfire on to the enemy at a critical stage of the D-Day landings.

The Royal Observer Corps was stood down and finally disbanded on May 12th 1945 - the official figures show that there were, all told, 32,000 observers of whom 23,000 were part-time, the total number of posts was given as over 1,000.

In 1947 the Royal Observer Corps was reformed with a nuclear reporting role and was finally stood down in 1991.

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The 'Sally Army' saw a great increase in welfare work among service men and women, with the opening of more than 2,500 Clubs and Hostels. Isolated units were served by hundreds of Mobile Canteens and much emergency relief work was done among those rendered homeless by air raids.

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Searchlight sites in the Tyne area were manned by men of the Royal Artillery attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers. The sites were under the control of Fighter Command. Early in 1944 these experienced men were moved to the south coast to assist with the air-defences protecting the troops assembling for the D-Day invasion. The local sites were then taken over by U.S troops from the 225th AAA Searchlight Battalion.

Map showing location of searchlight sites

(See the Place Index for details of the above locations).

Battery Site Location Modified
A - Drill Hall, Debdon Gardens, Heaton QZ 767868 NZ280662
A TT114 Link House, Blyth QZ 807000 NZ320794
A TT121 New Delaval QZ 765000 NZ278794
A TT122 Crag Point/Seaton Sluice QZ 829963 NZ342757
A TT123 Seghill Colliery QZ 784949 NZ297743
A TT124 Seaton Burn QZ 728040 NZ241834
A TT125 Brenkley QZ 704955 NZ217749
A TT126 Plessey Mill QZ 723999 NZ236793
A TT131 Palmersville QZ 777903 NZ290697
A TT133 Sharpness (Point) QZ 859901 NZ372695
A TT134 Billy Mill QZ 826898 NZ339692
A TT135 Armstrong Park QZ 752863 NZ265657
A TT136 Gosforth QZ 723896 NZ236690
A/C TT141 Benwell QZ 706853 NZ219647
A/C TT142 Ryton QZ 644848 NZ157642
A/C TT146 Wolsington QZ 682903 NZ195697
A/C TT132 Smuggler's Cave (Cullercoats) QZ 854913 NZ367707
C - Urpeth Lodge, Birtley QZ 725744 NZ238538
C TT231 Springwell QZ 775799 NZ288593
C TT233 Biddick Hall QZ 796755 NZ309549
C TT235 Waldridge Drift QZ 728700 NZ241494
C TT236 Ouston QZ 751745 NZ264539
C TT237 Usworth RAF QZ 831794 NZ344588
C TT241 Beamish Park QZ 698746 NZ211540
C TT244 High Spen QZ 627812 NZ140606
C TT245 Tyne "G" (HAA) QZ 688811 NZ201605
C TT246 Ravensworth QZ 723798 NZ236592
C TT234 Great Lumley QZ 775702 NZ288496
B - Marsden Hall QZ 887856 NZ400650
B TT211 Harton QZ 853852 NZ366646
B TT213 Frenchman's Bay QZ 875863 NZ388657
B TT214 Whitburn QZ 896826 NZ409620
B TT215 Fulwell QZ 892800 NZ405594
B TT216 Cleadon QZ 871826 NZ384620
B TT217 Hebburn QZ 804844 NZ317638
B TT221 Seaham Harbour QZ 897704 NZ410498
B TT222 Hawthorn QZ 908663 NZ421457
B TT223 Easington Lane QZ 851658 NZ364452
B TT224 Houghton-le-Spring QZ 824700 NZ337494
B TT225 North Moor QZ 855744 NZ368538
B TT226 Ryhope Road QZ 887755 NZ400549
C TT243 Tanfield QZ 663757 NZ176551
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During the war, in South Shields, 156 people were killed, 211 people were seriously injured and 353 were slightly injured. 3,147 persons were rendered homeless. Thirty-nine shops and offices plus 443 houses were demolished. Sixty-seven shops and offices plus 1,257 houses were seriously damaged and 2,604 premises received damage to glass only. 249 Air Raid Warnings were sounded. 179 High Explosive bombs, 16 Parachute Mines and 9,312 Incendiary bombs fell in the Borough. The first bomb dropped in June 1940.

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The first enemy air raid took place on 21/7/40 and the last on 24/5/43. The sirens sounded 247 times and the Luftwaffe raided Sunderland thirty-five times. The casualty figures were 273 persons killed, 389 seriously injured, 639 slightly injured (many occurring in May 1943). The damage to property was considerable, properties demolished - 1,030, seriously damaged - 2,700, and slightly damaged - 30,000.

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Many houses, particularly in towns and cities, had no gardens and in these cases the answer was the Communal Shelter. These were built on the surface, sometimes in the middle of streets, sometimes on waste ground. Although they varied in size to accommodate between twelve and forty-eight people, they were generally about thirty feet long by six feet high and six feet wide. They had solid walls of brick about fourteen inches thick and had 1 foot thick roofs of reinforced concrete.

Then there were the Public Shelters which were often, at least away from the cities, of very similar design to the Communal Shelters, except that they sometimes had toilet facilities. They had a capacity of about fifty people and were built near main roads, particularly bus routes, and were meant for people away from home during raids. The main difference seems to have been financial; Communal Shelters were paid for by the Government whereas Public Shelters were only grant-aided.

A Government regulation meant to conserve stocks of cement and demands on transport, decreed that the mortar mix to be used in construction was to be one part of cement to two parts of lime. In April 1940 an ambiguous instruction was misinterpreted to mean that a lime-sand mix was permissible. Before the mistake was realised in July, thousands of shelters were built with a fatally dangerous fault. After some very tragic incidents brought the error to light, steps to rectify the situation were set in motion in December 1940.

In contrast to the above, it was discovered after the war, that the authorities in Hamm, home of the famous railway centre in Germany had built nine bomb-proof shelters with walls six to nine feet thick and divided into hundreds of rooms inside, each shelter was capable of accommodating 5,000 to 6,000 people. Although the town had 2,500 tons of HE and 10,000 IBs dropped on it, the casualty figure of 1,000 killed was considered to be small and as such can mainly be credited to the excellence of the shelters and the discipline maintained within. The same reason was given for the Krupp Works at Essen who lost a total of 170 employees out of a total roll call of 160,000.

* Nothing like this was ever provided for the people in the much battered south of England, indeed the citizens of London were begrudged the use of the Underground until the people themselves forced the issue. *

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Tynemouth had its baptism of fire, its first bomb, to be followed by a total of 329 such incidents, during which three Tynemouth policemen were killed: PC Clements, First Reserve Murray and First Reserve Hannah.

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[47] .. U BOATS

The figures given at the end of the war, for the 713 U Boats destroyed between September 3rd 1939 and May 8th 1945 were as follows: 462 fell to British Empire forces: 151 to United States forces and 100 were sunk by mines laid by the RAF.

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The unemployment figures following have been taken from various sources but give a indication of the general trend ... April 1940, 973,000 was the lowest figure since 1920 - May 1940, 881,000 there were 5,306,000 women in civil employment - June 1940, 767,000 - July 1940, 827,266 - June 1941, 243,656 - May 1942, 108,963 - June 1942, 100,000 - August 1942, 107,534 - September 1942, 98,662 - December 1942, 81,943 - April 1944, 73,092 - October 1944, 79,235 - July 1945, 111,825

and the following table is from the Ministry of Labour Gazette:-

Unemployment. 1938 - 45

June Registered Insured Unemployed

Table 71
1938 1,710,000
1939 1,270,000
1940 645,000
1941 198,000
1942 87,000
1943 60,000
1944 54,000
1945 103,000
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This was the famous CC41 mark put on clothes and other goods during and after the war. As the effects of the war began to bite, efforts were made to minimise the use of materials and manpower. To achieve full use of those available, rationing was introduced in June 1941, with the clothing industry one of the first affected.

By 1942 the Department of Trade introduced the first 'utility clothes' with standard patterns, using rolls of material to the full, with very small hems and seams. Materials used were of 'practical' quality with no unessential refinements. Design details were established even down to the number of buttons to be used.

Utility goods carried a logo of two stylised 'C's, supposedly derived from consumer control, incorporating a number for the year of manufacture. (I think '41' was the only number ever used) A committee of designers decided on the look of the clothes and the strictly controlled prices.

These practical clothes were a success in a period of great austerity and their lack of fashion became the fashion of the time. Restrictions on clothing actually became harsher in the years following the war, but by 1949 many items were released from rationing by coupons and by 1951, utility marks were abandoned.

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