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North-East Diary

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


26th July 1940 to
14th August 1940

Friday, 26th July 1940  D328

A Spitfire from 616 Squadron based at Leconfield airfield near Beverley, Yorkshire, made a heavy landing and wrecked the undercarriage following a dawn practice flight. PO W.I.B. Walker was unhurt, the aircraft, repairable.

German E Boats attacked shipping off Shoreham, sinking:- 'SS Lulonga' (821t) steamer, Humber to Shoreham. 'SS Broadhurst' (1,013t) cargo ship, travelling from Seaham to Shoreham. 'SS London Trader' (646t) steamer, sailing to Shoreham from the Tyne. 'SS Haytor' (1,189t) cargo ship, London to Blyth, sunk by a mine in North Sea.

Day 328. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.34, begins: 21.50

Friday, 26th/Saturday, 27th July 1940  N328

Night 328. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.50, ends: 04.35
Public Alert: 23.46, All-Clear: 01.50

Sunday, 28th/Monday, 29th July 1940  N330

Newcastle.. Twenty-five HEs were dropped almost in a straight line across the city, there was considerable damage. Three women were killed, one woman and two men were injured, one of the very first females to be killed in Newcastle due to enemy action, was Mary Mackay, who was warning others of the danger when the caretaker's house at Heaton Secondary Girls School was hit, bombs also fell in the quadrangle and on the dining hall. A second women was killed in Forsyth Road, West Jesmond.

One German bomber possibly mistaking the long ribbon of the West Road for the River Tyne, pitched a string of bombs, eight in all, along the line of the road from Benwell Grove westwards to Condercum Road. Four of these produced craters in the road surface, one of which was outside the Plaza Cinema on the West Road and one near the Milvain Club at the top of Baxter Avenue. The last of the three women mentioned above, was killed in nearby Farndale Road. No air raid warning was sounded in Newcastle.

00.23-00.26.. Newcastle.. Eight bombs in NW of City, four on West Road, two in gardens, two on houses (one person dead). Four bombs in N of City, one wrecked house (one person dead), three near houses, several damaged. Seven bombs in NE of City, two near Heaton Secondary School, one of them on caretaker's houses (one person dead), one UXB in playing field, five more about 200 yds from school, three in gardens, two in roadway.

00.00-00.10.. Northumberland.. NE of Wooler.. Nine HEs and IBs at Downham [NT8633] - Seven cattle killed. Three HEs at Crookham Eastfield (in a sugar beet field) [NT9039].

Night 330. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.47, ends: 04.39

Monday, 29th July 1940  D331

'SS Gronland' (1,264t) a former Danish steamer, Blyth to Plymouth was sunk by German aircraft in Dover Harbour.

'SS Clan Monro' (5,952t) steamer, Cochin, India to the Tees was sunk by a mine off Harwich.

'SS Moidart' (1,262t) steamer, London to Newcastle was also sunk by a mine off Harwich.

A Hurricane from 302 Squadron based at Leconfield airfield near Beverley, Yorkshire, landing at base in a crosswind on a first familiarisation flight, damaged the aircraft. PO K. Lukaszewicz was unhurt, the aircraft was repairable.

Day 331. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.39, begins: 21.45

Monday, 29th/Tuesday, 30th July 1940  N331

00.10.. Hull.. Two small HEs fell and damaged flats in Great Passage Street and Porter Street. There were no casualties.

Night 331. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.45, ends: 04.40
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 00.05, All Clear: 00.53

Tuesday, 30th July 1940  D332

A Blenheim from No 219 Squadron based at Catterick airfield, Yorkshire suffered a damaged undercarriage on take-off, it force landed at base at 13.20. Sgts T. Birkett and E.R. Lacey were unhurt, the aircraft was repairable.

Day 332. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.40, begins: 21.43

Wednesday, 31st July/Thursday, 1st August 1940  N333

At night there was some minelaying in the Tyne area.

Night 333. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.42, ends: 04.44
Public Alert: 01.15, All-Clear: 01.49

Thursday, 1st August 1940  D334

Enemy aircraft minelaying in the Tyne and Humber areas.

A Spitfire from No 616 Squadron based at Leconfield airfield near Beverley, Yorkshire, was returning to base damaged in radio and engine bearer by return fire from a Junkers Ju 88 engaged at 13.05. Sgt M. Ridley was unhurt, the aircraft, repairable.

Day 334. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.44, begins: 21.40

Thursday, 1st/Friday, 2nd August 1940  N334

02.40.. Northumberland.. Two HEs in fields near to Guyzance, Acklington [NU2103] - one near a searchlight. Damage to buildings.

At night.. Catterick attacked. Early morning weather and reconnaissance flights by German aircraft. An East coast convoy was attacked by enemy aircraft and a trawler was sunk. Minelayers active during the night, 80 being plotted from the Orkneys to Dungeness. Light cloud at night brought raids on many RAF airfields including Catterick.

Night 334. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.40, ends: 04.46
Public Alert: 00.08, All-Clear: 01.42

Friday, 2nd August 1940  D335

The Hull registered 'SS Highlander' (1,000t) cargo vessel, steamed into Aberdeen with a Heinkel He 115 seaplane draped across her stern. The ship had just survived a bombing attack and the aircraft had turned to rake her with machine-gun fire. While doing so, the enemy had come just a little bit too close and was hit by the ship's gunners. It crashed in flames into the sea about 100 yards astern of the 'Highlander'.

The gunners were celebrating this 'kill' when another Heinkel He 115 suddenly turned up. After making several passes it attacked, dropping bombs which missed. It too was caught by machine-gun fire on the turn; it lost height and its port wing hit the 'Highlander's' port lifeboat and swung the plane around on to the poop deck. It caught fire and the ship's crew put it out. There were no survivors from either plane.

The 'Highlander' was the first merchantman to bring down a German plane with its Lewis guns. The ship was renamed in an attempt to avoid repercussions but it was later sunk by aerial torpedo off Aberdeen, going down with all hands.

A Blenheim from No 219 Squadron based at Catterick airfield, Yorkshire, overshot the runway at Leeming during practice landings without flaps at 15.15. The undercarriage was deliberately raised to avoid running into the Great North Road. PO W.G.M. Lambie and Sgt R. Bell were unhurt, the aircraft was damaged but repairable.

Day 335. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.46, begins: 21.38

Saturday, 3rd August 1940  D336

'SS Wychwood' (2,794t) cargo ship, Blyth to London with a cargo of coal was sunk by a mine off Aldeburgh.

A Fairey Battle Mark 3 L5110 of No 253 Squadron en route from Northolt to Turnhouse suffered an engine fire and then engine failure as they flew over Tanfield at about 19.00. The aircraft crashed just to the NW of Causey. The crew, Sergeant J.A. Anderson and LAC Ricks, baled out and landed on Gibside Estate; both were injured and were taken to Rowlands Gill.

The full story of this crash only emerged much later. Sergeant Anderson had exhibited great bravery that day as this excerpt from his obituary explains:

"John Anderson, or 'Andy' as he was affectionately known to his close friends, died on 28th May, 1978, aged 61 years" ...
"The Squadron had been given two old Battles for hack work and target practice, and one day one of them, burst into flames. An airman passenger in the rear gunner's well was too shaken to jump and Andy, despite the flames, climbed along the fuselage trying to persuade the airman to jump and pull his rip cord. Unfortunately Andy was blown off by the slipstream and landed by parachute after suffering some burns. Meanwhile the airman had pulled his rip-cord while still in the well and miraculously was snatched clear by the open parachute, breaking a leg on the main plane but otherwise landing safely intact."
Tom Gleave

Sergeant Anderson was subsequently shot down during the Battle of Britain and severely injured. His treatment included pioneering plastic surgery making him a member of the "Guinea Pig Club" as well as one of "The Few".

Day 336. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.48, begins: 21.35

Saturday, 3rd/Sunday, 4th August 1940  N336

Reports that the Tyne and Humber both reported six raiders active.

Night 336. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.35, ends: 04.49
Public Alert: 00.08, All-Clear: 00.41

Sunday, 4th August 1940  D337

A Spitfire of No 616 Squadron based at Leconfield airfield, near Beverley in Yorkshire, spun into the ground from 5,000' during a dogfight practice. The exact cause of the crash is unknown. The pilot, Sgt J.P. Walsh was killed, he was 20 years old and is buried in Harrow Cemetery, Middlesex. The aircraft was a write-off.

Day 337. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.49, begins: 21.33

Monday, 5th August 1940  D338

A Blenheim from No 219 Squadron based at Catterick airfield, Yorkshire suffered a jammed undercarriage due to too early retraction on take-off. The aircraft was forced to land wheels up. The pilot, Sgt A.J. Hodgkinson was unhurt, and the aircraft was repairable.

Another Blenheim also based at Catterick, had to belly-land at base due to an undercarriage fault after a take-off accident. Pilot Officer T. Birkett was unhurt and the aircraft was repairable. On July 30th PO Birkett was involved in a similar incident, he was a Sergeant at the time.

Day 338. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.51, begins: 21.32

Monday, 5th/Tuesday, 6th August 1940  N338

More enemy minelaying reported off the East coast. Despite the fact that there was, during this 24 hours. Ten convoys at sea off Britain, no Luftwaffe activity was reported against them, it was thought that this was due Germany conserving its forces for the projected invasion of Britain.

00.10.. Northumberland.. Eleven IBs at Fisher Lane Road End (just off the old A.1 near the turn off to Cramlington). One house on fire, extinguished by a fire brigade unit from Gosforth UDC. Several HEs in a field at Seven Mile House Farm (One UXB).

Night 338. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.32, ends: 04.53
Public Alert: 22.44, All-Clear: 01.10

Tuesday, 6th August 1940  D339

A Spitfire from Mo 72 Squadron based at Acklington airfield in Northumberland, crash-landed following an uneventful patrol at 12.40. The pilot, Sgt R.C.J. Staples was unhurt but the aircraft was a write-off.

A Blenheim from No 219 Squadron based at Catterick airfield in Yorkshire, collided with HT cables and crashed into a river during a searchlight co-operation flight, Pilot Officer J.C. Carriere and Sgt C. Beveridge, both superficially injured, the aircraft was a write-off.

The following three Spitfires from No 616 Squadron based, at Leconfield airfield near Beverley in Yorkshire, returned to base, damaged by return fire from the same Junkers Ju 88, engaged twenty miles NE of Flamborough Head at 17.00. One was piloted by Squadron Leader M. Robinson, the second by Sgt M. Ridley and the third by Flight Lieutenant R.O. Hellyer. The pilots were unhurt and the aircraft were repairable. An aircraft piloted by Sgt M. Ridley was also damaged on August 1st.

Day 339. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.53, begins: 21.30

Wednesday, 7th August 1940  D340

Northumberland.. Tynemouth Borough.. The ceiling of 9 Park Avenue, North Shields was cracked by the effects of heavy gun-fire.

Yorkshire. A twenty year old woman was killed in an incident at Osbaldwick, York.

A Blenheim from No 248 Squadron based at Sunburgh, ditched off St Abbs Head due to petrol shortage, it was towed to shore by a trawler. Pilot Officers R.H. Haviland and M.L. Wells plus Sgt A. Kay were picked up in their dinghy also by a trawler and landed at South Shields. The aircraft was salvaged and found to be repairable.

A Spitfire from No 616 Squadron based at Leconfield airfield near Beverley in Yorkshire, crashed and exploded three miles from base during night flying practice at 02.45, cause unknown. Flying Officer D.S. Smith baled out unhurt, the aircraft was a write-off.

Another Spitfire from the same squadron and base as above undershot the runway and hit the perimeter fence, landing after night flying practice. The pilot, Sgt T.E. Westmoreland was unhurt, the aircraft was repairable.

Day 340. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.55, begins: 21.28

Wednesday, 7th/Thursday, 8th August 1940  N340

01.23.. Northumberland.. Two mines fell near Stannington Sanatorium, damaging the buildings and killing several cattle in a field nearby. Damage to the Sanatorium amounted to £1,000 but the 300 children in residence escaped. Minor damage over a wide area, several casualties through flying glass. Seven shop windows in Morpeth (three miles away) blown in.

Night 340. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.28, ends: 04.56

Thursday, 8th August 1940  D341

'SS Holme Force' (1,216t) steamer, Tyne to Devonport with a cargo of coal was sunk by E Boats off Beachy Head.

'SS Empire Crusader' (1,042t) steamer, Devonport from Seaham with a cargo of coal was sunk by German aircraft, W of the Isle of Wight.

It was announced that British forces pay is to be increased by 6d (2½p) per day which means that a privates pay goes up to 17/6 (87½p) per week.

Day 341. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.56, begins: 21.26

Thursday, 8th/Friday, 9th August 1940  N341

Night.. Minelaying off the East coast and raids reported by enemy aircraft at Middlesbrough.

Night 341. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.26, ends: 04.58

Friday, 9th August 1940  D342

South Shields.. One High Explosive bomb fell in a garden at the back of Lawe Road near Pearson Street. Four people in an Anderson Shelter 10 feet from the crater were uninjured. One Home Guard was killed by machine-gun fire. No casualties from the bomb.

11.40.. Sunderland.. Four people were killed and seventy-eight injured, when a shipyard (Laing's), a railway bridge, some residential property (in Bonners Field ?) and Monkwearmouth Station Hotel was hit when bombing took place at Sunderland at 11.40 by a Heinkel He 111H, dumping its bombs, it then fell into the sea off Whitburn at 11.52 after an RAF fighter attack. The crew were picked by a RN patrol boat, two of the crew were injured and two were unhurt.

A Heinkel He 111H was shot down by AA gunfire during operations near Flamborough Head. The aircraft and the crew, listed as missing.

Day 342. All times BST. Blackout ends: 04.58, begins: 21.24

Friday, 9th/Saturday, 10th August 1940  N342

Northumberland.. Tynemouth Borough.. An HE on the railway N of Cullercoats station and three in fields W of Broadway. Some property damage.

00.00.. Co Durham.. Near Wardley Colliery. Three HEs dropped in a grass field on Springwell to White Mare Pool road near Wardley Colliery. Two exploded and one did not. No damage or casualties.

Co Durham.. Two UXBs found, one at Whittleburn Farm, near Springwell, the other near a searchlight battery at Leam Lane. Craters are 6' deep and 36' in circumference. No damage or casualties.

Night 342. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.24, ends: 05.00
Public Alert: 00.00, All-Clear: 02.58

Saturday, 10th/Sunday, 11th August 1940  N343

02.00.. Northumberland.. One HE on Warkworth School. Two HEs 140 yards east of Warkworth Bridge.

Northumberland.. Fifteen HEs in fields between Togston Hall and Gilden Bridge.

Northumberland.. Two HEs at Helsey Point, north of Alnwick.

Night 343. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.21, ends: 05.02

Sunday, 11th August 1940  D344

A Spitfire from 616 Squadron based at Leconfield airfield near Beverley in Yorkshire collided with a stationary aircraft on take-off, losing the port oleo leg. It crashed on landing at 18.28. Pilot Officer L.H. Casson was unhurt and the aircraft was repairable.

Day 344. All times BST. Blackout ends: 05.02, begins: 21.19

Sunday, 11th/Monday, 12th August 1940  N344

There were two main raids on the north-east during the night: York area at 22.20 and Newcastle, Tynemouth area at 01.00-01.28. IBs fell on Heaton between Tosson Terrace and the Coast Road causing only light damage. HEs at Framwellgate Moor and near Westerhope, Ponteland, Tynemouth, Belsay, Felton, Stannington, Bedlington, Morpeth and Boulmer. Little damage and no casualties apart from 7 lambs killed near Felton.

Newcastle.. Heaton.. Thirty IBs on Heaton between Tosson Terrace and Coast Road, twenty-seven of these exploded. Fifteen fires were started and fifteen fell on open ground. Nine bombs were extinguished by AFS and thirteen by civilians, wardens etc with stirrup pumps. Damage light.

23.45.. Northumberland.. Two HEs ½ a mile NE of Boulmer Hall Farm.

00.30.. Northumberland.. Westerhope.. One HE Low Newbiggin Farm, Westerhope.

00.45.. Northumberland.. East Thirston, Felton.. Three HEs Wintrick Farm, East Thirston, Felton, seven lambs killed.

00.47.. Northumberland.. Three HEs fell ½ mile NE of Coquet Island.

01.00.. Northumberland.. Four HEs, one UX, in fields N of Whalton/Belsay road.

01.07.. Northumberland.. Eight HEs fell in various locations, including - Make Me Rich Farm, Ponteland, Catraw Farm, Stannington, Hirst Head Farm and pit heap between Bedlington and Bedlington Station.

Co Durham.. Eight HEs dropped at High Carr House Farm and Low Carr House Farm, Framwellgate Moor in fields. Damage negligible. No casualties.

A Junkers Ju 88 shot down during a reconnaissance sortie, crashed at Newton Moor near Whitby at 19.08. Three of the crew were taken prisoner, one was killed (Lt H. Meyer), he was interred at Acklam Road Cemetery, Thornaby.

1(F)/121 Junkers Ju 88A-1. Shot down by Green Section of No 41 Squadron (Flying Officer J.G. Boyle, Sergeant E.V. Darling and Pilot Officer R.W. Wallens) during reconnaissance sortie and crash-landed on Newton Moor, Whitby at 19.08. Fw O. Höfft, Oberlt H. Marzusch and Fw K-H. Hacker captured unhurt. Lt H. Meyer killed. Aircraft 7A+KH a write-off. The Bordmechaniker, Heinrich Meyer, was buried at Acklam Road Cemetery, Thornaby and has not been reinterred in the Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase.

Night 344. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.19, ends: 05.04
Public Alert: 23.15, All-Clear: 01.53

Monday, 12th August 1940  D345

From today wasting food becomes illegal in Britain.

Day 345. All times BST. Blackout ends: 05.04, begins: 21.17

Monday, 12th/Tuesday, 13th August 1940  N345

Sunderland.. The Parade, Hendon was damaged and one person was killed.

23.10-01.26.. Co Durham.. East Herrington.. A large number of IBs dropped in streets, gardens and fields. No damage caused except for tool house burnt, house damage caused by bombs penetrating roofs of houses. Slight damage to crops in fields. One man struck by an IB died in hospital.

Co Durham.. New Seaton.. Sixteen HEs dropped in Seaton Railway Station area, near Seaham, in potato and cornfields. No damage of consequence.

Co Durham.. Middle Herrington.. Twenty-one HEs in fields near Middle Herrington Farm. Little damage and no casualties.

Night 345. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.17, ends: 05.06
Public Alert: 22.39, All-Clear: 01.09

Tuesday, 13th August 1940  D346

Twelve Blenheim Bombers of No 82 Squadron, without fighter escort, were ordered to attack the airfield at Aalborg West in Jutland, where it was thought 50 Junkers Ju 88s were massing ready for Eagle Day, together with the troop carriers, Junkers Ju 52s. This was the limit of the Blenheims operational range, their loads were to be four x 250lb HE and eight x 25lb Splinter Bombs, to disable parked aircraft.

On route, one bomber had to turn back. What was not known to British Intelligence was that in addition to the planes already reported, there were also nine Messerschmitt Me 109Es. It was these German fighters that shot every single Blenheim out of the sky.

Two days later, on Thursday, 15th August, 50 Junkers Ju 88s of Bomber Geschwader 30 took off from Aalborg West airfield to raid North East England, proving that the airfield facilities were not crucially damaged by the sacrifice of the Blenheims. Yet the Luftwaffe too failed to provide a complete fighter escort for their bombers and suffered accordingly. Seven of the raiders were shot down and three more were to force land or crash on their return. These losses were from one small group of the raiding force and were unacceptable to the German High Command, it virtually ended the threat from Air Fleet No 5.

Day 346. All times BST. Blackout ends: 05.06, begins: 21.14

Wednesday, 14th August 1940  D347

10.45.. Northumberland.. Report of parachutes dropped from German aircraft at Whittingham and a report of parachutists at Creswell Farm. A captured enemy plane was being flown south by the air authorities at this time!!.

The Ministry of Home Security announced that in the early hours, parachutes were reported to have been found in the Leeds area. No enemy forces have been reported found.

Day 347. All times BST. Blackout ends: 05.08, begins: 21.12

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