Front Page

Map showing area covered.

North-East Diary

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

Other Events

April 1939

The Ministry of Supply set up. Compulsory conscription for men aged 20 - 21.

August 1939

Emergency Powers Defence Act passed.

Requisitioning of Hull's trawler fleet by Admiralty begins.

September 1939

At the beginning of September an estimated 140,000 hospital patients were discharged, including 7 - 8,000 TB patients 'not on a peace-time standard of fitness for discharge'. 187 - 195,000 new and old beds made ready for air raid casualties. Control of Employment Act passed.

September 1939

The Home Secretary told the House of Commons that in Northumberland, fourteen pit heaps were still burning actively and six were smouldering - by the middle of March 1940 no pit heap was seriously on fire, but six were still liable to erupt and as a precaution, another thirty were under continuous inspection.

September/October 1939

The War Cabinet sets up new Ministries of Food, Shipping, Economic Warfare, Information. Sir John Anderson takes over amalgamated Ministries of Home Office and Home Security. The Ministry of National Service extends call-up age from 27 to 41.

November 1939

The National Savings Movement launched.


An unidentified U Boat was sunk by depth charges off the Tyne at 55°01'40"N - 01°18'52"W. An Admiralty report suggests that the wreck is lying in a position N to S in 128ft of water, on colliery spoil and is between 150 - 200ft long.

Dates not known at all

The book 'The Illustrated Dictionary of North East Shipwrecks' is not specific about the war in which these U Boats were destroyed. It is most probable that it was WW1, but the list is of interest anyway.

A report on Teletext: Monday July 26th 1993

A WW1 U Boat with the remains of 20 sailors on board has been found off Whitby, the UB 30 was sunk off Whitby as she attacked shipping on 13th August 1918. The 257 ton vessel was found in 160ft. of water.

A report on Teletext: Friday 17th June 1994

A diver has died while being rushed to a decompression chamber after getting into difficulties in the North Sea. Brian Hartley (36) of Whitby had been investigating the wreck of a WW1 submarine off Whitby. Mr Hartley was dead on arrival at South Tyneside General Hospital.

February 1940

Several houses bombed and badly damaged at Lynemouth, Northumberland.

February 1940

'SS Start' a Norwegian ship, was on a voyage from Sunderland to Oslo with a cargo of coal, when she was sunk by a U Boat in the North Sea.

May 1940

York council tenants, who were once forbidden to keep poultry, were told they must now Dig for Victory (this presumably meant cultivate their own gardens) or get out.

Wardens began fitting the extension, known as "Contex" to civilian duty gas masks to give protection against Arsine gas. Only service gas masks previously gave protection against this gas. The extension was a brightly coloured circular filter taped on to the original by sticky tape.

June 1940

Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, appeals for scrap metal.

Aircraft industry working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week.

July 1940

Scrap Metals Week in Newcastle was held in this month. It was about now that ornamental railings around parks, public buildings and ordinary dwellings were taken for scrap and in a lot of cases, after the war, they were never replaced. Household utensils also were given freely, only later was this generosity regretted when they became impossible to get.

Tea, margarine and cooking fats rationed to 2oz per week. Proclaimed illegal to serve protein in more than one course in restaurants. Cheese ration fluctuates between 2oz and 8oz per week.

Supply of timber for furniture cut off.

September 1940

Anti aircraft defences at this time consisted of 2870 heavy anti aircraft guns - 7970 light and medium anti aircraft guns - 2540 searchlights - 380 Balloons. These figures do not include land based naval weapons around dockyards and naval bases. Ammunition measuring 20mm and above was designated 'Shells' and that measuring below 20mm was 'Small Arms Ammunition' or SAA.

Saturday 21st September to Saturday 28th September 1940

In the War Weapons Week held during this period it was said 'this is what your money will buy'... Bullet 6d - Grenade 4s - Pistol £4 - Rifle £7 - Machine Gun £100 - AA Gun £3,000 - Fighter £5,000 - Tank £15,000 - Bomber £20,000 - Destroyer £320,000 - Cruiser £2,000,000 - Fully equipped Ambulance - app. £500 - Airman's Irvin Silk Parachute £60 - Cost of equipping an infantryman (84 items, including a gas mask and rifle) £20 - Cost of keeping a soldier, pay, rations, etc., app. £100 per annum.

November 1940

'SS Agamemnon' a Dutch ship was attacked and sunk by German bombers in the North Sea, off the Tyne.

Incendiary bullets are being used to fire haystacks etc. 7.9 mm Mauser-pattern bullets with a phosphorus charge and a small percussion fuse in the nose.

For the week 13th - 20th November 1940

According to the Home Security's Operations Bulletin No 20. 'Very effective work was done at a Yorkshire farm where horses and cattle were killed when seven HEs were dropped this week. An emergency slaughtering gang was able to save 75% of the carcasses for human consumption, representing the meat ration for over 1,000 people for a week'.

For the week 30th November - 7th December 1940

Hull held its War Weapons Week.

December 1940

The first Night Fighter OTU, No 54, was opened at Church Fenton.


In 1940, the yearly wages of the following group of people were as follows:- farm labourer, £90 - skilled engineer, £148 - Battle of Britain pilot, started at £340.

The weekly pay for full-time fire service personnel in London during the 'Blitz' of 1940 was £3/5/- (£3.25) for men and £2/3/6 (£2.18) for women. The hours were not specified, but the nature of the job suggests that they were long. It follows that the rate for firemen in the North-East was considerably less.


Operating from Woolsington airfield (now Newcastle airport), a Spitfire pilot found a Junkers Ju 88 illuminated by searchlights and shot it down. This was one of the few night-time victories in a Spitfire.

January 1941

The Air Training Corps launched for 16 to 18-year-old boys, there were 200,000 recruits in the first 6 months.

February 1941

The Morrison Shelter (an indoor shelter) was introduced. Full details are given in the chapter 'Background Information'.

Meacon under construction at Filey.

A number of instances have been investigated in which 1kg IBs have been found strapped to the tails of 50kg HEs. In several cases the IB have been found ignited. In every case the HE has been of the 50kg type, and the adaptation has clearly been made after the bomb left the factory.

March 1941

19,000 firewatcher's steel helmets (with the high crown and black bootlace threaded through, to keep the lining in) arrived in Newcastle to be distributed to street firewatchers. Compulsory training for Fire Guards (as they were officially called) took place within the 48 hours part time service per month required by law.

Registration Order for women aged between 20 - 21, later extended to 30 and men over 41. Appeals made for women to volunteer for work.

Friday 25th April 1941

[Letters to the Evening Chronicle printed on 10th/11th January 1995]
Regarding your item (Chronicle January 4) the bombing of Guildford Place on April 25 1941, I lived at 117 Union Road, Byker, Newcastle on that horrible night those bombs were dropped. The bomb that dropped on our house was the last of a stick of five, the other four fell in the old quarry and on St Peter's Albion football ground off the Fossway. Being bombed out, we were taken to Byker Parish Hall where we stayed for a day. Then we lived at the Jubilee School for a few days until we were billeted at my mother's sister's house in Harvey Street, Byker, until we were found a house. Living at my mother's sisters house were my mother, three sisters, two brothers and me , plus my aunt and her two children - all of us in a two bedroom house ..... James Devlin, Garth 24, Killingworth .....

The item in the Chronicle, mentioned in the letter, was a picture in the 'Opinions' feature, of the bomb damage at Guildford Place in Heaton, captioned 'City street blasted'.

..... This letter was printed the following night .....

Your picture (Chronicle January 4) shows the destruction of Guildford Place right enough but it wasn't caused by bombs but by a parachute mine. Nine bombs also dropped on the East End and Jesmond that night April 25 1941. I recall going to see that scene with my brother the day after. We stood at the junction of Heaton Road and Guildford Place. There were iron bars spiked into the ground tied with a loose rope barrier across the street. There was an underground air raid shelter in Corbridge Street, Byker. Is it still there under the surface of the new road ? There was a larger one in Byker Park. Is it there still ? It was only yards from the Union Road junction .. Joe Armstrong .. address supplied.

April 1941

The Women's Services become part of armed forces subject to military discipline, to check the flow of those wishing to resign.

May 1941

It was estimated that, at this time, clothes prices were 175% and wholesale goods 50%, higher than pre-war.

The cheese ration was reduced to 1oz per week.

July 1941

Bevin recalls 30,000 men to work in the coal mines.

August 1941

Shortages have resulted in a 'Black Market' and longer queues (17/6 (871/2p) for 1lb of grapes, and £2 for a melon). Extra cheese ration to be given to heavy manual workers. Cosmetics becoming very scarce.

November 1941

The controlled distribution of milk is announced.

December 1941.

Unmarried women between the ages of 18 and 30 could be conscripted into war work. Registration of girls and boys between the ages of 16 and 18 to take place.


The collier 'Fulham IV' was stranded and wrecked near Trow Rocks, South Shields.


National dried milk now available.


The shortage of unrationed foodstuffs began to manifest itself in 1941 and women's magazines were publishing recipes that sounded unattractive and possibly tasted little better: Baa-Baa Turnovers (made from sheep's head), Liver and Oatmeal Pudding, Bean Rarebit, Lentil Roast, Meat and Lentil Gateau, Rabbit and Macaroni Mould, Haricot Omelette and when the worst shortage of all started (the onion shortage) Tripe and no onions. Severe sugar rationing and a growing shortage of dried fruit meant a heavy dependence on the sweetness of carrots and beetroot. Carrots were used in tarts; diced beetroot deputised for sultanas in steamed puddings - it lost its red colour in the cooking and the eye deceived the palate; banana custard was made with parsnips and banana essence; and Christmas cakes and puddings in 1941 were full of grated carrot, grated apple and even grated potato - the housewife struggled on.

February 1942

The clothing ration reduced to 48 coupons per year. Certain types of fruit and vegetables are so scarce that single bananas and single onions are being offered and used as raffle prizes.

February 1942

The Home Guard recruited to serve in AA batteries.

April 1942

The large bee-hive hangar at Usworth airfield near Boldon was hit by an overshooting Hurricane, injuring the pilot.

June 1942

Austerity regulations ban pockets and pleats on new garments, also long socks. Packets of Dried Egg appear. Restaurants now allowed to charge a maximum price of 5/- (25p) per meal.

August 1942

The Ministry of Home Security issued an urgent appeal to householders to reduce the risk of fire in their homes, in case the future brought the resumption of heavy air raids with Incendiary Bombs. One measure to be taken was to clear out all lofts of combustible material.

Only twenty-two furniture designs to be produced on Utility Scheme.

September 1942

During an exercise flight, a Beaufighter from Scorton airfield in Yorkshire, was 18 miles out over the sea, when an engine caught fire and the crew had to abandon the aircraft. They were picked up by rescue launch and returned to their base.

October 1942

At the beginning of October 1942, King George VI ordered a line to be painted on his bath so that it should not be filled with more than 5" of water, to save the fuel used to heat it. Soon patriotic restraint followed and many people 'made do' with this amount of water in their baths too.

December 1942

[News Post Leader in December 1992 the feature '50 years ago']
The importance of handing over to the authorities any suspicious object was emphasised at Bedlington Juvenile Court in dealing with a case in which it was revealed that a boy had been injured through the exploding of an apparently harmless device in a school play yard. The fourteen year old boy was charged under the Defence Regulations - that having found an article which he had reasonable cause to believe was used by HM Forces failed to deliver it to the military authorities or to the police". His father was ordered to pay 5s (25p) and 3s (15p) costs.


'SS Hawkswood' (2,020t) grounded and broke her back in shallow water off the Tees at 54°39'15"N - 01°09'57"W.


Warship week in Newcastle raised £4,000,000.

January 1943

Home Security had, at this time, to stress the need for people not on duty in the streets during air raids, to take cover, because of the intensity of AA fire, it was estimated that approximately 30% of recent air raid casualties had been caused by AA shells or rockets.

Retail prices 42% higher than pre-war. Wages 35% higher than pre-war. A Government White Paper shows that a quarter of 611,000 boys and girls under 18 already had such long hours that no extra war effort is possible on their part.

June 1943

Nine out of ten single women and eight out of ten married women aged between 18 and 40 are either in the Forces or in industry. The remainder are caring for the young or the old, doing part-time work and out-work at home.

July 1943

Petrol, fuel, blankets, beer and many kinds of food are scarce. Pipe cleaners in use as hairpins. The Victory Roll hairstyle eliminates the need for pins.

September 1943

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme introduced for tax payers.

Summer 1943

A Beaufighter belonging to the USAAF 416th Night Fighter Squadron based at Acklington airfield, crashed near Warkworth, Northumberland, during its working up period. The pilot was killed.


Wings for Victory Week in Newcastle raised £3.000.000.

January 1944

Average women's wage in engineering £3/10/- (£3.50) per week. Average men's wage in engineering £7 per week. Women teachers' claim for equal pay rejected by Winston Churchill as impertinence.

Only four cwt of coal allowed per month.

February 1944

A Halifax bomber operating from Leeming airfield was taxiing to its take off point, and it was hurrying to catch up with the rest of the squadron, when the pilot ran an outer motor over the top of a crew bus, the bus driver thought he was following the last of planes ready to take off. The bomber was equipped with Merlin engines and de Havilland wooden blade airscrews which went to matchwood. The pilot was a Wing Commander Pattison, a man who had recently stated after a rash of taxiing accidents that "there must be an end to this sort of thing". The aircraft was taken back to dispersal, a new airscrew was fitted and it carried on with the operation.

At the end of February 1944 the same Wing Commander Pattison was lost to the squadron after an accident. There were thirty-two bombed-up, fuelled-up aircraft of 427 and 429 Squadrons lined up on the perimeter track, ready to take off on a raid, when a canister of incendiary bombs fell out below one of the planes. Wing Commander Pattison and the Station Warrant Officer ran over and kicked the burning incendiaries out from under the bomber, in doing so both men were severely injured, but for their action, many lives and possibly two squadrons of aircraft would have been lost.

February 1944

Although flying had been going on from Morpeth airfield since April 1942, a Flying Control Officer wasn't posted there until February 1944.

Spring 1944

1,421,000 non-British troops stationed in UK, mostly Americans. 140,000 Home Guards serving on Anti-Aircraft batteries.

Great shortage of cots, bottle teats, rubber sheets and chamber pots, bottles only replaced when proof is presented of their breakage.

Mid 1944

Open-cast coal mining begins on Newcastle's Town Moor, continuing until August 1947, when 250,000 tons had been extracted, often by blasting. Residents of Gosforth and Kenton were accustomed to lumps of coal and shale landing in their gardens.

September 1944

A Halifax bomber 'A-Able' returning from a bombing raid to its RCAF base at Tholthorpe near York crashed into another Halifax 'U-Uncle' bombed-up waiting at dispersal, both aircraft burst into flames. Some of the first on the scene were Air Commodore Ross, the station commander, Flight Sergeant St Germain, a bomb-aimer whose aircraft had just landed and Corporal Marquet, one of the squadrons groundcrew. Despite the danger, Air Commodore Ross and Cpl Marquet got the badly wounded pilot out of the plane, seconds later everyone was thrown to the ground when the 500 lb bombs exploded in the bomb bay.

Flames were now reaching the trapped rear-gunner, so Fl-Sgt St Germain and Cpl Marquet chopped a hole big enough to get the gunner out. They had just done so when another explosion ripped the aircraft apart, blowing everyone to the ground again. The Air Commodore was hit by flying debris, his wrist almost severed, he was rushed to hospital were he underwent an emergency operation. For their prompt action, Air Commodore Ross was awarded the George Cross. Fl-Sgt St Germain and Cpl Marquet the George Medal. Fl-Sgt St Germain was to win the DFC five months later.

November 1944

A Halifax bomber based at Wombleton airfield near Pickering, landed on the grass in poor visibility, and the undercarriage collapsed. The crew were safe.

December 1944

People over seventy years of age were allowed to have an extra 1oz of tea.


Salute the Soldier Week in Newcastle raised £4.000.000.

Early in 1944 an unusual experiment was tried, the airfield at Morpeth, (actually it was 3 miles SW of Morpeth) had a number of Blister Hangars and other buildings that were found to be in inconvenient positions. Without being dismantled they were moved to a better site, about 1/2 a mile away. (how this was done was not related). In all eight buildings were moved and a cine film was made of the job at the time. In November, nature did a removal job on two of the hangars - an 80 mph wind lifted them bodily then dropped them, totally wrecked.

January 1945

Whalemeat available in the fish shops - shortly followed by snoek or barracuda.

March 1945

A Halifax bomber based at Leconfield airfield, near Beverley, was being flight tested when it crashed at 15.30 into high ground at Brantingham near Brough, Yorkshire, during descent in bad visibility. The crew of six were killed.

June 1945

At the beginning of the month, the petrol ration for inessential motoring was restored. Four gallons per month for cars up to 8 horse power and five gallons per month for those of between 10 and 13 horse power.

Front Page

Valid HTML 4.0! © Copyright Brian Pears 1994-2011