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North-East Diary

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


30th April/1st May 1942 to
20th June 1942

Thursday, 30th April/Friday, 1st May 1942  N971

A small force of enemy aircraft operating, the majority were plotted inland. At 01.00 raiders appeared from the direction of Ostend, they were joined by others from the Dutch Isles and flew northwards. By 02.30, they had spread out between North Norfolk and Farne Islands. Half an hour later they turned west and south-west and covered the Tyneside/Middlesbrough area, where they remained for about 40 minutes. At 03.45, a few passed over Hull and Norwich on their way home and at 04.30 the last of them had left for home.

Bombs were scattered over various parts of North-Eastern and Eastern England, but no concentration developed. Newcastle, Tynemouth, North Walbottle, Wallsend, Gateshead, Jarrow, South Shields, Fulwell, Blackwell, Sunderland, Chester le Street and Hull all reported incidents, some of them involving small numbers of casualties and some damage. Bombs also fell at Norwich, Felthorpe and Lowestoft with varying effect. Total fatalities on this night amounted to 36.

03.18.. Newcastle.. Three 250kg HE fell in the vicinity of Benton Park Road between houses on the north side of the road and the railway line; all fell in soft ground and produced craters measuring 20' in diameter and 8' deep. A fourth fell on the north side of the railway in Northumberland County. No 1, at the rear of the two-storey semi-detached houses "Liddlesdale" and "Thirlmere", caused severe damage requiring the demolition of a house, and serious damage to two houses. No 2, at rear of the semi-detached houses "Red Lea", "Morningside" and "Turra", which killed one person and caused serious damage to two houses. No 3, at the rear of the semi-detached houses "Stylcroft" and "Cragsideview", it fell beside a concrete shelter and killed five persons in the shelter.

The blast from these bombs also damaged Robb and Weakford's Garage and three or four shops at Four Lane Ends in Northumberland County. The bodies of the six dead were taken to Stanmore Road Mortuary. Three persons were treated at First Aid Post 6 and one person was sent to the RVI. Three Ambulances, three Rescue Parties, three Sitting Cars and one First Aid Party were dispatched to the incident. No roads were blocked but gas, water, electricity and telephone services were affected. The LNER checked the permanent way in case of damage but they were able to open the line to traffic. Cragside Rest Centre was opened but only two persons attended and they stayed for only about one hour.

Newcastle.. An undetected UXB on the river bank at Scotswood fatally injured a man.

Northumberland.. Eleven died at Wallsend when HE aimed at the shipyards hit houses.

Northumberland.. At North Walbottle three people died when HE hit Coley Hill Terrace.

Northumberland.. HE fell at Bolam. The following letter was sent by the vicar's wife to her son who was a Flying Officer in the RAF serving in the Middle East.

Bolam Vicarage Morpeth Northumberland  5/5/42

Dear John We are safe and well and not unduly alarmed after Jerry paid us a visit at 4 A.M. May 1st. He was being hotly pursued by two of our fighters who were on his tail. He was very low down, and discharged the whole of his load in order to get away, but he failed to do so and lies at Longhorsley. 4 Bombs 2½ tons in all. One fell, just missing the Walnut tree which still stands, 30 yds from houses wall. An unexploded one lay in the Chancel, it had passed through the lower part of the wall in the H.B. Chapel, smashing all the furnishings in that part of the Church, none of any value, injuring some windows. Providence watched over us that morning, for our house still stands. Windows and lots of Frames gone. Roof badly damaged, doors broken or damaged, glass everywhere, we were smothered with it in bed, and have not even a scratch. Damage is all repairable. Furniture is very little hurt, save for scratches, some curtains in ribbons, and the glass of your bookcase smashed. It amazes everyone in authority that our house withstood the blast. Cottage very small damage. The remaining two bombs only made large craters in Windmill field. People have been most kind. We had breakfast with the Allendales, they only had three broken windows, and a bit of one ceiling down. They offered to put us up, but we decided to come to Gallowshill. Our Sunday Morning Services were in G. dining room, converted into temporary Chapel. The Bishop has been to see us. I was much more distressed by the Telegram about you than by this latest bit of Jerry's malice. Men are busy at emergency repairs and women are helping clear up glass and get carpets up.

Much love from us both.

Yours Mother

Co Durham.. In recording the further events of this moonlit night I have drawn heavily on Brian Pears book 'When Bombs Fell on Rowlands Gill' ..... "The sirens sounded at 02.33. At Acklington (Northumberland) and Catterick airfields, the engines of Hurricane and Beaufighter aircraft roared into life. As the siren at Rowlands Gill fell silent, the heavy guns of Tyne X battery at Ouston Camp near the Royal Ordnance Factory at Birtley were heard to be firing at the enemy aircraft. Tyne G battery at the top of Lobley Hill soon followed suit. The gun known as Big Bertha could not be ignored, ground shook and windows rattled four miles away when her 50lb shell thundered into the night sky. At Bone Hill, High Spen the searchlight battery lit up the sky with a powerful beam of light.

In Rowlands Gill the 'Specials' went to their headquarters - the Reading Room in Stirling Lane. The Home Guard reported to their look-out posts scattered around the village. First Aid Parties went to the Welfare Hall and the Rescue Party Squads reported to Williamson's yard. Wardens and Messengers too, reported to their places of duty. Miners underground, in Lilley Drift, were brought to safer parts of the mine - it was shallow and a bomb on the surface might well cause dangerous roof falls.

To the north, the anti-aircraft battery at Hill Heads Road, Westerhope opened up on raiders that could now be seen silhouetted against the moon, as well as heard. Shrapnel from the bursting AA shells pattered down, damaging the roofs in Norman Terrace in Rowlands Gill. Parachute Flares lit up the area and the planes started to dive on their targets.

At Lockhaugh, Barlow, Winlaton, Winlaton Mill and Axwell Park, incendiaries rained down in their hundreds. In Thornley Lane, a woman making her way to her place of duty was narrowly missed by machine gun bullets from an enemy raider. Further up Thornley Lane a farmer, Thomas Robinson, lost the sight of one eye when he flapped a spade at an incendiary bomb he had tackled in his farmyard, and a drop of molten metal had shot into his eye. The National Fire Service message room at Larch Road in Blaydon received a call from Derwenthaugh Coke Works reporting a fire across the road near Hagg Hill Farm. In response, a trailer pump left the yard to the rear of the Council's Office, as they passed Axwell Park Estate and turned onto the A.694 they saw numerous incendiary bombs burning in the grounds of Axwell Park Approved School and at Winlaton Mill. Trees, hedges and heaps of brushwood were burning furiously, soon the firemen were pumping water from the river Derwent up the hillside onto fires near the farm.

There were fires at Winlaton too, incendiaries had fallen in the fields to the south of St Paul's Church and in the Twizell Avenue area setting houses alight. Over at Stella Staithes Hotel an incendiary bomb had fallen through the roof and set fire to the lounge and bar, caught early, it was extinguished with stirrup pumps. In the yard behind the Green Tree Inn at Barlow, five people, two men and three women were watching the awesome sights around them, when they heard the whistle of a bomb, they dived for cover, the high explosive bomb landed on the Green Tree, completely demolishing it, of the five that sought safety only four found it, one, the 29 year old husband of one of the women was found to be without a mark on him, but dead. As the First Aid Party helped the survivors, who had been slightly injured, a Warden checked for bomb craters and found an unexploded bomb quite close to the ruins of the pub. Finally comes the first message of the night to the Blaydon Report Centre: Warden Post B.4. Barlow Village, 7 HE, 1 UXB on open ground, IBs, Damage, Casualties - 1 fatal.

At Lockhaugh near to Rowlands Gill incendiaries still burned on the fields and roads. In Thornley Lane, just across the road from Thomas Robinson's farm a bomb fell killing a horse. Six bombs landed in fields around the farms, two near the four houses at the bottom of Thornley Lane and the six in Glamis Crescent doing much damage to the roofs, ceilings, walls and furniture of the farms and houses. Bombs also landed in Low Horse Close Wood, near to the main road between Hollinhill Farm and the Lilley Brickworks; also down by the river near the sewage works. A small bomb fell across the river in Lady Haugh Field, Gibside, damaging the roofs and ceilings of almost every house on the main road at Lockhaugh and up High Horse Close.

The bomb near Hollinhill Farm fractured a wall of the farmhouse and damaged houses in Cowen Terrace and Lilley Terrace. There was roof and ceiling damage to a house in Burnopfield Road and two in Dene Avenue, as no bombs had been dropped anywhere near these dwellings it is thought to have been caused by A-A shell shrapnel or machine-gun fire from enemy aircraft. An unexploded bomb was quickly located in one of the fields at Locklough, there was also a report of a possible second, thought to have landed in Thornley Woods, near to the railway bridge over the road to Winlaton Mill - a bus route and therefore a potential danger to a busload of passengers. The message sent to Blaydon Report Centre read: Warden Post C.1. Locklough 9 HE, UXBs on open ground, IBs, Casualties, Damage.

Another wave of bombers reached the illuminated area and released their bombs. Three high explosives landed just behind The Avenue on the Axwell Park Estate. Houses on The Avenue, Western Way and Shibdon Road suffered, two were wrecked, five lost their roofs and a further twenty-six had varying degrees of damage. A few people had slight injuries and one or two had lucky escapes - one man who had not taken shelter, was blown out of bed and woke up to find the roof of his house gone, most of his bedroom furniture downstairs and most of his back garden in his bedroom.

High explosive bombs had also fallen in the Approved School grounds, the school had only suffered minor damage, Two bombs straddled the Derwenthaugh Coke Works, others landed on the other side of the River Derwent doing little damage - the bungalow across the road from the coke works lost a few roof tiles and window panes. Blaydon Report Centre received a message from this area that read: Warden Post A.1. Shibdon Road. 7 HEs, 1 UXB, IBs, Damage.

The burning hedges and incendiaries near St Paul's Church at Winlaton acted as target markers for the enemy planes that dropped six high explosive bombs, only two of them caused any real problems, they landed in the allotments at Knowledge Hill, as the blast surged outwards, several houses and businesses on Church Street and Front Street lost their roofs and dozens more were damaged in other ways - worst affected was the Winlaton and District Social Club and Institute. A small hut behind the Highlander pub was demolished, lorries in the car park were damaged too. Two private ambulances were found to be damaged but repairable. The church and vicarage had windows blown in. The message to the Blaydon Report Centre was: Warden Post B.1. Winlaton, 6 HE, IBs, Damage, Casualties.

Northumberland.. Tynemouth Borough.. Four HEs fell beside the Heatonburn Wagonway at Allotment Farm, in the north western corner of the Borough.

South Shields.. In the early morning, one bomb fell near St Hilda's signal cabin on the LNER main railway line. Shortly afterwards a second bomb was dropped in a field 200 yards south of Richardson Terrace, Simonside. No casualties were reported. At 04.02 about 100 incendiary bombs fell on the North Foreshore. Two unexploded incendiaries and four carrying racks were found. During the progress of this raid two AA shells fell on the dock wall of Tyne Docks Basin and on the railway lines in Tyne Docks near the River Street entrance. Slight damage only was incurred and there were no casualties.

02.59.. Sunderland.. On Friday 1st May 1942 four bombs were dropped by an enemy aircraft at Back Mayswood Road, Fulwell Fire Station, Querry's Dairy Farm and Fulwell Working Men's Club. The Working Men's Club and the Dairy Farm Buildings were demolished. Four dwelling houses were damaged beyond repair which necessitated their demolition. The Fire Station was one-third demolished and 429 houses and shops received first-aid repairs. Mrs Querry's houses, known as Fulwell House, Station Road, was very badly damaged. One adult male and one adult female (husband and wife) were killed whilst sheltering in a home-built shelter situate in the rear of their home. The sizes of the craters were as follows:-

Fire Sub-Station34' x 4'
26 Mayswood Road32' x 8'
The Working Men's Club24' x 6'
The Dairy Farm28' x 10'

There was no industrial damage, nor was any serious damage caused to gas, electricity or water mains. The Morale of the public was excellent.

ARP Headquarters "THORNHOLME" Sunderland 21/5/42

Sunderland.. An earlier report stated that:- Purple 02.22, Red 02.34, White 04.00. Four HE were dropped at a point due east of the LNER Sunderland to Newcastle line and immediately south of Station Road, Fulwell. The shelter at 26 Mayswood Road was on the edge of a crater. One horse had to be destroyed at the Dairy Farm as the result of the damage.

Sunderland.. Fulwell Fire Station opened 7/4/42 by Mayor, Councillor Myers Wayman, received direct hit from bomb at 2.55 on 1/5/42. One fireman, Walter Sharpen, was almost buried under bricks but was dug out unhurt. Switchboard operator, Mrs Hetty Rodgers, stayed at her post and later received the Empire Medal.

02.59.. Sunderland.. Two people were killed when four HEs were dropped by an enemy plane, due E of the LNER Sunderland to Newcastle line and immediately S of Station Road, Fulwell. The bombs fell at Back Mayswood Road, Fulwell Fire Station, Querry's Dairy Farm and Fulwell Working Men's Club. At the Working Men's Club and the Dairy Farm, buildings were demolished. One horse had to be destroyed at the Dairy Farm as the result of the damage.

Four dwelling houses were damaged beyond repair and had to be demolished. The Fire Station was one-third demolished and 429 houses and shops received first-aid repairs. Mrs Querry's houses, known as Fulwell House, Station Road, was very badly damaged. A man and his wife were killed whilst sheltering in a home-built shelter situated at the rear of their home in Mayswood Road, the shelter was on the edge of a crater. Crater sizes as follows:- Fire Station 34' x 4', Mayswood Road 32 x 8', Working Men's Club 24' x 6', Dairy Farm 28' x 10'. There was no industrial damage, nor was any serious damage caused to gas, electricity or water mains. The morale of the public was excellent.

Co Durham.. HE reported at Langley Moor.

Co Durham.. HE reported at Chester le Street.

Co Durham.. Four HEs fell on the derelict Grange Iron Foundry at Belmont.

02.45-03.50.. Co Durham.. An IB fell through the roof of the Stella Staithes Hotel, causing damage to the roof and setting fire to the lounge and bar. The fire was extinguished with stirrup pumps. At the same time the roof of the stables at Stella Hall was blown off presumably by an HE.

02.55.. Co Durham.. Eight people were killed and thirty-seven injured when two HEs dropped at Beamish. One exploded on impact causing damage to houses. The second did not explode until 09.30. This uprooted part of the railway line, fractured a water main and caused further damage to houses which had already been damaged by the first bomb. At 21.05 an unsuspected UXB exploded under a shop at Beamish when eight people sustained fatal injuries (three male and five female), nine persons were seriously injured (two male and seven females). The shop had been previously damaged by the HEs mentioned above.

02.59.. Co Durham.. Explosive IBs were dropped at Jarrow. A hut adjoining the Jarrow Tub [Tube?] Works was set on fire and a woman was slightly injured. No damage to the tub works but an electricity pylon 500 yards NW of Boldon Railway Station was short circuited. A single HE was believed to have dropped in the River Tyne about 50 yards from Hawthorn Leslie's Shipyard and was suspected of being unexploded. (Exploded at 16.15 hours, 1.5.42).

Co Durham.. A cannon shell was found in the side of a cow at Whiteleas.

03.10. Co Durham.. Three HEs fell in the Grange Colliery Yard at Carrville. The Colliery offices were demolished and some slight damage caused to residential property. No casualties.

03.10.. Co Durham.. Four HEs fell in the vicinity of Finchale Priory, two on the south side of the river and two on the north side. One was a UXB. Only slight damage was caused and there were no casualties.

03.15.. Co Durham.. A small bomb was dropped in Lady Haugh Field, Gibside, Whickham. No casualties or damage.

Co Durham.. Nine HEs (two UXB) and a large number of IBs were dropped near Rowlands Gill causing damage to houses and farm buildings, one horse was killed.

03.10-03.40.. Co Durham.. Ten HEs and IBs at Whickham, damaging electric cables and farm buildings. Two beasts killed and a haystack set on fire.

Co Durham.. IBs fell at Marley Hill Colliery. No damage.

Co Durham.. Seven HEs (one UXB) together with a number of IBs were dropped at Axwell Park, causing damage to property but no injuries.

Co Durham.. Seven HEs and IBs fell at Barlow, demolishing a public house. One male person was killed and four (two male and two female) slightly injured.

Co Durham.. Greenside.. Three HEs were dropped at Burn Hill Quarry, Greenside, causing extensive damage to plant.

Co Durham.. Six HEs and IBs fell at Winlaton. A number of persons were made homeless and a Rest Centre was opened. Electric cables were also damaged.

Co Durham.. Six HEs (one UXB) and IBs were dropped at Winlaton Mill, destroying a garage and damaging electric light cables. A number of houses had to be evacuated owing to the presence of UXB.

03.50.. Co Durham.. Four HEs exploded in a field at High Knitsley, Consett, but caused no damage.

03.52.. Co Durham.. Blackwell.. Four HEs dropped at the junction of Blackwell Village Road and Blackwell Lane, Darlington. Two persons sustained minor injuries and damage was caused to residential property.

10.05.. Co Durham.. A delayed action bomb exploded at Blaydon Haugh causing damage to a railway fence.

03.30.. Hull.. Three HEs dropped in the Bank Street, Victoria Street, Railway south of Botanic crossing areas. Deep penetration. Residential property and railway damaged. Casualties were seven killed and five seriously injured.

A Dornier Do 217 was brought down by a British fighter piloted by Wing Commander Max Aitken DFC The Dornier crashed in flames off the Durham coast. Another pilot, an Englishman flying with a Canadian Squadron watched as his quarry went into a vertical dive and broke in half. Several other German pilots coming in to land at their bases in France got a very unpleasant surprise when they were jumped by RAF fighters. Three of the bombers spread their wreckage over the French countryside - Four Junkers Ju 88s came down on land in the North East.

Night 971. All times DST. Blackout begins: 22.07, ends: 05.58
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 03.20, All Clear: 04.40
Public Alert (Newcastle Warning Dist): 02.34, All-Clear: 04.03
Industrial Alarm: 02.40, Release: 03.58

Wednesday, 6th May 1942  D977

'MV Morlaix' (419t) was sunk in the North Sea, off the Northumberland coast, due to a collision at 55°25'30"N - 01°22'30"W.

Day 977. All times DST. Blackout ends: 05.17, begins: 22.49

Tuesday, 12th May 1942  D983

Trawler 'Ben Ardna' on Admiralty service lost in collision off the Tyne.

Day 983. All times DST. Blackout ends: 05.05, begins: 23.00

Saturday, 16th May 1942  D987

15.30., Newcastle.. Head of West Jesmond Council School reports a suspicious-cavity in playing field about 30 yards from Forsyth Road. It was UX AA shell.

Day 987. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.58, begins: 23.07

Tuesday, 19th/Wednesday, 20th May 1942  N990

Hull.. 168 tonnes of bombs dropped in a night attack on Hull. Fifty people were killed and fifty-eight seriously injured, much damage done to the dock area and elsewhere in the city. The Blackburn aircraft factory at Brough (W of Hull) suffered blast damage, further attacks took place at Hedon (E of Hull), Hornsea and Withernsea. The attacks cost the Luftwaffe two Junkers Ju 88s and a Dornier Do 217.

00.04.. A heavy attack on the following areas in the city, Scarborough Street, Westbourne Avenue, Sutton, Southcoates Lane and Alexandra Dock. Four IB clusters and seventy-four HEs of varying weights, including one of 1,000kg and one of 1,800kg were dropped. Fires were started on the dock and Southcoates Lane, extensive damage in Scarborough Street, a densely-populated area near the Fish Dock, this was where the 1,800kg bomb fell, elsewhere in the city, industrial, residential and railway properties suffered damage.

Night 990. All times DST. Blackout begins: 23.12, ends: 04.51
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 23.39, All Clear: 01.16

Tuesday, 26th May 1942  D997

Newcastle.. It was reported today that on Sunday 24/5/42 at about 07.30 an enemy aircraft flew over the City. AA defences in action and fighter aircraft in pursuit. No alert sounded.

Day 997. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.42, begins: 23.24

Friday, 29th/Saturday, 30th May 1942  N1000

There was some activity over the North-East and East Coasts, but the raiders appear to have been roughly handled, the attack was dispersed, and comparatively little harm was done.

Night 1000. All times DST. Blackout begins: 23.28, ends: 04.38

Monday, 1st June 1942  D1003

From today all men's and youths clothing will be subject to the following restrictions. Jackets:- No double-breasted jackets - not more than three pockets - no slits or buttons on the cuffs - not more than three buttons on the front - no patch pockets - no half belt - no fancy belts and no metal or leather buttons. Waistcoats:- Plain single breasted only - no collar - not more than two pockets - not more than five buttons - no backstraps and no chainholes. Trousers:- Maximum width of trouser bottoms 19" - plain bottoms - no permanent turnups - not more than three pockets - no side or backstraps - no extension waistbands - no elastic in waistbands and no pleats. General:- No zip fasteners and no raised seams.

Restrictions on women's clothing include the following:-embroidery, applique work and lace on women's and girls' underwear is banned, skirts cannot have more than three buttons, six seams, one pocket and two box pleats, double-breasted suits are out, as are pockets on pyjamas for both sexes.

Day 1003. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.35, begins: 23.32

Thursday, 4th/Friday, 5th June 1942  N1006

Most of the raiders were probably engaged in mine-laying and in anti-shipping activities off North-East England. There was some scattered bombing in parts of Durham and Yorkshire. At Sunderland, two delayed-action bombs damaged a ship when they exploded on the following day, and another interfered with the loading of two coaling vessels.

01.40.. Co Durham.. A number of IBs were dropped in fields. W of Ryhope and at Tunstall. About one ton of potatoes was damaged.

01.45.. Co Durham.. A large number of IBs were dropped near the Golf Course at Seaton Carew and along the foreshore between Seaton Carew and Seaton Snooks. The only fire was to grassland.

02.10.. Co Durham.. Three HEs fell in a field at Graythorp and about the same time four HEs fell in the vicinity of Gray's Dry Dock, Graythorp, causing damage to the roof and windows of the joiners shop.

07.30-19.55.. Co Durham.. Six HEs were dropped between high and low watermark, 400 yds. S of Seaton Carew. they had not previously been discovered and exploded between 07.30 and 19.55 the same day. No damage or casualties caused.

02.30.. Co Durham.. Four HEs fell in a cornfield near White Mare Pool causing damage to crops.

02.50.. Co Durham.. A suspected UXB is reported to have dropped near Cox Green Railway Station. (Confirmed and disposed of 8.6.42).

01.35-03.14.. Sunderland.. Four HEs dropped in the riverside area without exploding. One exploded at 08.05 and one at 08.25 in the river W of Wearmouth Bridge damaging the 'SS Zealous' which has been beached. Another HE exploded at 11.28 seriously injuring two RNVR men and slightly injuring police and ARP personnel. One UXB remains and is holding up the loading of two coal carrying ships.

Co Durham.. IBs fell in the vicinity of Tunstall Poultry Farm, Tunstall& Burdon District.

Co Durham.. IBs fell at Carr's Poultry Farm, Ryhope.

Night 1006. All times DST. Blackout begins: 23.36, ends: 04.32
Public Alert: 01.31, All-Clear: 03.14
Industrial Alarm: 01.37, Release: 02.14
Industrial Alarm: 02.40, Release: 03.05

Friday, 12th June 1942  D1014

Withdrawal of the basic petrol ration announced - licences to be issued instead.

Day 1014. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.27, begins: 23.44

Sunday, 14th June 1942  D1016

This was the completion date of the 1540 ton destroyer 'HMS Petard', built at Vickers Armstrong Naval Yard, Tyneside. The ship gets a special mention here because of the bravery of three of her crew, but in particular sixteen 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.

Day 1016. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.26, begins: 23.46

Saturday, 20th June 1942  D1022

'SS Afon Dulais' (988t) cargo ship, Seaham to Poole, was sunk by a mine, SE of the Isle of Wight.

Day 1022. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.26, begins: 23.49

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