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North-East Diary

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


23rd/24th May 1943 to
9th September 1943

Sunday, 23rd/Monday, 24th May 1943  N1359

The last major raid of the war in the North-East caused the highest death toll. In its 35th raid of the war and its 11th of appreciable dimensions, eleven PMs, sixty-seven HEs, nine firepot HEs and about 600 IBs fell on Sunderland causing widespread damage. Eighty-four people died and 221 were injured; among the dead were a group of joiners from Glasgow who were there to repair earlier bomb damage. Many casualties occurred when a PM landed on St George's Square. Three Public Shelters were hit; three died in the Bromarsh Shelter, North Bridge Street, five in Bonners Field Shelter, Monkwearmouth and thirteen in Lodge Terrace Shelter at Hendon. The Isolation Hospital (now Havelock Hospital) was evacuated because of an UXPM. Including those slightly damaged about 5,000 houses were involved in this last attack and, together with the attack of 15/16th May, about 15,000. The morale of the people is reported as excellent.

At South Shields twenty-eight people were killed and twenty-two seriously injured; some forty buildings were wrecked and another fifty seriously damaged. PMs also fell at Dalton le Dale, New Seaham, Ryhope, Silksworth and East Boldon. HEs were reported at Cold Hesledon, Ryhope Colliery and Whitburn, and IBs at Murton Colliery, Ryhope and Tunstall Hope. There was one fatality at Dalton le Dale and one at Ryhope.

03.00.. Newcastle.. AA shell fell through the roof of printers Andrew Reid, Strawberry House, it exploded in the Machine Room on the top floor damaging machinery and fittings. Fractured water system.

South Shields.. This was the last raid in which bombs were dropped on South Shields and it was one of the more serious with regard to loss of life and property, it centred on the Westoe and Cauldwell areas where four 500kg. HE bombs and four Phosphorous bombs were dropped at 03.19 on Sunday morning. They fell on Marsden Street, Stevenson Street, Dean Road and Hepscott Terrace.

These were percussion bombs said to be fitted with rods at the nose of the bomb, so that they exploded before they penetrated the ground, they made no craters but the damage above ground was extensive. The floorboards of a downstairs flat in Stevenson Street were undamaged although the entire building above ground was totally destroyed.

About twenty dwelling houses, shops, and the front of the ARP stores at the Regent Garage were completely shattered and many more had to be demolished later. About fifty other shops and houses were seriously damaged and 500 other properties, including the Regent Cinema and the Roman Catholic School, then at 'Wyvestow Lodge', suffered. The Dean Road wardens post was damaged, as was the entrance to a public shelter adjoining. The bomb there fell on the road between the Regent Garage and the wardens post opposite. There was no crater but the tram lines were torn up and a water main burst. Another water main at the end of Hartington Terrace was also damaged.

Owing to the densely populated nature of the Marsden Street district, casualties were heavy and the material damage widespread. Unhappily the Police Force and the ARP Service suffered the loss of one regular Police Officer, three Wardens and one Fireguard. 300 people were rendered homeless and temporary accommodation was provided at a Rest Centre. The siren on the roof of the Regent Cinema was put out of action. The Phosphorous bombs all fell harmlessly on fields at Harton Moor and Cauldwell.

Casualties were:- 21 men, 3 women and 2 children killed / 14 men and 10 women seriously injured / 8 men, 11 women and 3 children slightly injured.

Sunderland.. A PM on houses in St George's Square. Among casualties were a group of joiners from Glasgow helping to repair bomb-damaged buildings. Six killed and thirteen others injured.

Sunderland.. 83 dead, 222 injured. Eleven PMs (four UX), sixty-seven HEs, nine firepot HEs and approximately 600 IBs.

Sunderland - damage to NE Marine, J.L Thompson and Manor Quay by bombs.

Sunderland.. In the Lodge Terrace - Henry Street - Salem Avenue - St Ignatius' Mission - South Dock - St George's Square - Carlyon Street - Gas Office Corner - Fawcett Street - Abbs Street - Howick Street - Bonnersfield - Givens Street - Horatio Street areas. Casualties-: Eighty-three killed, 109 seriously injured, many slightly injured. Eleven PMs (four UX), sixty-seven HEs, nine firepots, three PhIBs and approximately 600 IBs.

The following is a complete copy of the ARP report.. SUNDERLAND


At 02.37 Monday 24th May 1943, the "Purple" message was received. At 02.49 the Raid Warning was sounded and the Air Raid Message "White" received at 04.07. Bombs were dropped in a number of sections of the town and consisted of eleven parachute mines, four of which were unexploded, sixty-seven HEs, nine firepots, three PhIBs and approximately 600 IBs.

CASUALTIES.. The casualties were as follows:-

Seriously injured355717109
Slightly injured603815113

DAMAGED HOUSES.. It is estimated that 310 houses have been demolished or to be demolished; 1,000 seriously damaged; 10,000 slightly damaged.

FOOD STORES.. The following is a summary of the Food Stores damaged:-

 Total lost.Extensively Damaged.Slightly damaged.
Retailers& Caterers1214137
Factories and Depots212
Licensed Premises1726

CHURCHES.. Damage was caused to the following Churches and Chapels:- Bishopwearmouth Church - Sunderland Parish Church - St Barnabas' - St George's Presbyterian - St Ignatius Mission Hall, Burlington Road - Williamson Terrace Chapel - Newcastle Road PM Chapel - Lindsay Road Chapel.

SHELTERS.. The Bromarsh Basement Shelter was seriously damaged, the outer wall being demolished. This will entail considerable adjustment to the inside strutting. The Communal Shelter at Lodge Terrace was completely demolished.

THEATRES AND CINEMAS.. The following theatres and cinemas were damaged:- Empire Theatre, slightly - Bromarsh Cinema, Bonnersfield - Picture House, High Street West.

OTHER BUILDINGS.. Damage was also caused to important Yards and Works in the Borough. One vessel was sunk in the River and two in South Docks received damage.

SCHOOLS.. A number of Schools were damaged and the following had to be closed:- West Park Central - Cowan Terrace - Bishopwearmouth CE - St Andrew's CE - Plains Farm - Valley Road - James William Street - Thornfield and Barbara Priestman Special Schools - St George's Domestic Science Centre.

MORTUARIES.. The following Mortuaries were opened:- St Marks - Grey School. Hallgarth Square.

REST AND FEEDING CENTRES.. Thirteen Rest Centres were opened immediately after the raid and 3,000 homeless were accommodated. At twelve Emergency Feeding Centres 3,791 persons were supplied with meals.

ADMINISTRATIVE CENTRES.. The Administrative Centres at St Mary's RC and St Benet's RC Schools were opened at 11.00 on Monday the 24th and remained open until 18.00 on Friday the 28th. Over 5,800 enquiries were made at St Mary's and 2,500 at St Benet's.

WATER SUPPLY.. Damage was caused to water mains in different parts of the town and the supply was stopped in the Hendon area. Arrangements were made for water cartage to operate on the afternoon of Monday the 24th. In some cases, temporary small by-pass pipes were fixed sufficient to restore the water supply by Tuesday the 25th. Permanent repairs in some cases cannot be put in hand until the craters are dealt with.

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY.. Several feeders and distribution pillars were damaged but there was no interruption in supply due to this damage. Installations at three industrial firms were damaged preventing them from resuming full supply. The supply to a number of domestic consumers was off for a number of hours but was resumed before the evening of the 24th.

GAS MAINS.. Gas mains were damaged and the supply to consumers was maintained at a lower pressure than normal for approximately 24 hours after which time the full pressure was restored.

SEWERS.. Sewers were damaged at the following points:- Lodge Terrace - Dun Cow Street - Stratford Avenue - Rickaby Street - Trinity Street - Little Gate - Mainsforth Terrace - Priory Grove. A number of subsidiary sewers may have sustained damage but there is no interference with the dry weather flow. Repair gangs are working on the sewers and assistance has been received from Newcastle, South Shields and Gateshead.

SERVICES.. All Services were fully engaged and assistance was received from Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and the Northumberland and Durham County areas.

MOBILE CANTEENS.. Mobile Canteens were put into operation, all the Borough Canteens being engaged, together with others from the Durham County area.


S 1HEexPromenade, Roker Terrace50kg
S 2HEexOn Beach50kg
S 3HEexLower Promenade250kg
S 4HEexOn Beach 
S 5HEexOn Beach 
S 6HEexOn Beach 
S 7IB On BeachABB 500
S 8IB 5, Dacre RoadABB 500
S 9HEexIn field east of Shields Road500kg
S 10PMux3, Newington Court 
S 11PMux54, Eglinton Street 
S 12HEexBonnersfield500kg
S 13HEexBonnersfield500kg
S 14PMexJ.L. Thompson's Shipyard 
S 15PMexIn river near S 14 
S 16HEexHigh Street West1000kg
S 17HEexDun Cow Street1000kg
S 18HEexCameron's Brewery, Dunning Street250kg
S 19HEexSouth-east corner Fawcett Street500kg
S 20PMuxCorby Hall 
S 21PMexPlaying field, Corby Hall 
S 22PMux150 yards south of Newlands Avenue. 
S 23HEexAlmshouses, Littlegate500kg
S 24HEexNorth Dock Road50kg
S 25HEexPromenade, near Coast Guard Station50kg
S 26HEexDevonshire Street500kg
S 27HEexAbbs Street500kg
S 28PhIBexSans Street 
S 29FPexUpper Sans Street 
S 30HEexWalton's Lane50kg
S 31FPexFenwick's Brewery, Coronation Street 
S 32FPexFenwick's Brewery, Coronation Street 
S 33FPexRickaby Street 
S 34FPexEmbankment near Barrack Road 
S 35HEexNorth Eastern Marine, South Docks500kg
S 36HEexIn sea in front of North Eastern Marine 
S 37PhIBexSouth Pier 
S 38HEexHendon Dock, outside Monsanto Works250kg
S 39HEexHendon Dock, outside Monsanto Works250kg
S 40HEexIn Monsanto Works250kg
S 41HEexWest of Hudson Dock Bridge50kg
S 42HEexOutside No 31 Coal Staith, Hendon Dock50kg
S 43HEexWest of Robson's Saw-mills500kg
S 44FPexHartley Street 
S 45HEexTown Moor250kg
S 46HEexOctagon Cottage Road250kg
S 47HEexWear Street500kg
S 48HEexD'Arcy Street500kg
S 49HEexD'Arcy Road250kg
S 50HEexBurlington Road500kg
S 51PMexSalem Avenue 
S 52HEexBack Park Place West500kg
S 53HEexToward Road50kg
S 54HEexRobinson Street500kg
S 55HEexMainsforth Terrace500kg
S 56HEexCorporation Road50kg
S 57HEexLodge Terrace250kg
S 58HEexVillette Path50kg
S 59HEexStratford Avenue1000kg
S 60HEexOn railway, Hetton Sidings, Ayre's Quay50kg
S 61HEexNear Black Swan Hotel, Silksworth Row50kg
S 62FPexTrimdon Street - Rose Street 
S 63HEexHedley Street500kg
S 64HEexRavensworth Street500kg
S 65HEexPallion New Road, near Alexandra Bridge250kg
S 66HEexBishopwearmouth Cemetery250kg
S 67HEexBishopwearmouth Cemetery250kg
S 68HEexSt George's Square1000kg
S 69PMexGorse Road 
S 70PMexAlexandra Road, near Eye Infirmary 
S 71HEexHendon Gas Works50kg
S 72HEexRailway at NE corner of Gas Works, Hendon50kg
S 73HEexNear railway, 150 yds NE of Gas Works50kg
S 74HEexOpposite 14, The Westlands50kg
S 75HEexIn roadway, Priory Grove50kg
S 76HEexIn roadway, Barnard Street50kg
S 77HEexAt rear of Barnard and Abingdon Streets50kg
S 78FPexOil Storage Tanks, S of North Tidal Basin 
S 79HEexNorth Eastern Marine Engine Works250kg
S 80HEexFell in Hendon Dock 
S 81HEexFell in Hendon Dock 
S 82PhIBuxDirect hit on house junction of D'Arcy Tce and Fore St 
S 83FPexDirect hit on ship lying in North Tidal Basin 
S 84HE?exFenwick's Brewery, North Durham StFP or 50kg?
S 85HEexWarren Street (in debris American Hotel)50kg
S 86HEexDirect hit on ship in Hudson North Dock1000kg
S 87  Holed and sank a water-boat in Hudson Dock N. 
S 88HEexWearmouth Colliery Drops50kg
S 89HEexNear No 1 Post, Wearmouth Colliery50kg
S 90HEexField at rear of Ambleside Terrace500kg
S 91HEexVaux's Brewery50kg
S 92HEexCameron's Brewery50kg

03.05.. Co Durham.. Six firepot IBs fell at Murton Colliery Stone Heap without causing any casualties or damage. Three of the bombs did not explode.

03.05.. Co Durham.. Six HEs fell at Cold Hesledon, one of which failed to explode. A minor transformer house at the North Eastern Electric Supply Cos., Sub-Station received a direct hit. One male was slightly injured.

03.05.. Co Durham.. PM did not explode when it fell at Dalton le Dale. A sixty-one year old air raid warden died at the warden's post.

03.05.. Co Durham.. A PM exploded at Mount Pleasant, New Seaham, serious damage to six houses and slight damage to about 100 others. No casualties.

03.10.. Co Durham.. Two 500kg HEs fell in Ryhope Colliery Yard causing extensive damage to buildings and plant within a radius of 100 yds, as a result of which the Colliery had to close down. One male adult was killed, two seriously injured and four slightly injured at this incident. Nine firepot IBs also fell in the Colliery Yard at the same time, one of which failed to explode. These caused small fires but no material damage.

03.10.. Co Durham.. A PhIB fell through the roof of one of the Aged Miners' Homes, Ryhope, but failed to explode and caused no casualties. At the same time a UXPM fell on the Sea Banks at Ryhope, near to the Sunderland-West Hartlepool LNER line causing traffic on this line to be temporarily suspended.

03.15.. Co Durham.. Three PMs exploded when they fell at Silksworth causing damage to buildings within a radius of one to two miles. No casualties.

03.15.. Co Durham.. A ABB 500 container fell at Tunstall Hope causing damage to shops and houses. There were minor fires at this incident.

03.15.. Co Durham.. Two PMs failed to explode when they fell near the Sunderland-Newcastle LNER line at East Boldon causing a stoppage of traffic.

03.15.. Co Durham.. Whitburn.. Two HEs (one 250kg and one 500kg) fell on Whitburn Moor Farm, causing damage to farm buildings, one calf was killed, ten injured, two of which had to be slaughtered.

03.20.. Co Durham.. Two PMs fell near the Isolation Hospital, High Ford. One of these did not explode and the Isolation Hospital had to be evacuated. The exploded mine caused slight damage to property within a one mile radius.

03.24.. Co Durham.. A PM exploded on Shirley Banks, Ryhope, causing damage to dwelling houses within 500 yds. There were no casualties. Sixteen panes of glass and the latches of the office door, house door and yard door were broken at Ryhope Police Station by the blast from this mine. The bathroom ceiling also collapsed.

Night 1359. All times DST. Blackout begins: 23.19, ends: 04.46
Public Alert: 02.49, All-Clear: 04.07
Industrial Alarm: 03.01, Release: 03.30

Monday, 31st May 1943  D1367

'SS Catford' (1,568t) on a voyage from London to the Tyne was sunk by a mine, off the Humber.

Day 1367. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.37, begins: 23.31

Sunday, 13th June 1943  D1380

At about 11.30, a Typhoon operating from Milfield airfield, near Wooler, crashed in a field at Kimmerston Farm, Milfield. The plane was heard to come down in a power dive at a speed estimated at 600 mph, it did not pull out of it in time. The pilot was killed.

Day 1380. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.27, begins: 23.45

Monday, 14th June 1943  D1381

A Hurricane crashed at 12.25 on Milfield Hill Farm, Northumberland, it crashed almost on take-off. The pilot, seriously injured, was taken to the airfield hospital, were he died later that day. The aircraft was damaged.

Day 1381. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.26, begins: 23.46

Wednesday, 23rd/Thursday, 24th June 1943  N1390

02.37.. Hull.. Eight IB clusters and seventeen HEs including four of 1000kg fell over widespread areas encompassing Brunswick Avenue, Holderness Road and Mytongate. Residential, industrial and railway property damage also widespread. Fifty-one fires were started and twenty-three people were killed. The first anti-personnel, or butterfly bombs were dropped, insignificant looking weapons with great destructive power if handled or disturbed. They were so small that they could get into any crevice. although there were about 100 casualties, including twenty-three dead, there was not a serious incident created through inquisitive people handling anti-personnel missiles. The casualties came from high explosive bombs and other causes.

Central Hull was one target, Bond Street, Jarratt Street, Albion Street, Savile Street were also hit. The Royal Institution, long the centre of much of Hull's cultural life, was destroyed. The main fire station also suffered. 1,000 houses were damaged, 400 seriously.

Night 1390. All times DST. Blackout begins: 23.49, ends: 04.27
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 02.35, All Clear: 03.31

Friday, 25th June 1943  D1392

A Hurricane fighter crash-landed in a field known as Quarry Field, on Milfield Desmesne Farm, 1 mile W of Milfield Village at about 10.18. The plane had developed engine trouble. The pilot was uninjured.

Day 1392. All times DST. Blackout ends: 04.27, begins: 23.49

Tuesday, 13th/Wednesday, 14th July 1943  N1410

01.23.. Hull.. Areas bombed were widespread, residential, industrial and railway damage also widespread. The enemy unloaded three IB clusters, thirty-five Phosphorus Bombs, forty-one 500kg HEs and six 1000kg HEs on the city. The destruction of a road over a rail bridge, caused considerable dislocation of road and rail traffic for some time. Casualties included twenty-six killed and twenty-eight seriously injured.

Three enemy aircraft were brought down during an attack on Hull. A Dornier Do 217K crashed in flames into the sea after an attack by a Beaufighter of 604 Squadron (15 miles E of Spurn Head) at 00.46. Two of the crew were listed as missing and two were taken prisoner. Next was a Dornier Do 217M also shot down into the sea off Spurn Head by a Beaufighter of 604 Squadron at 00.32, all of the crew were listed as missing, but the body of one of them was later, on the 26th, recovered from the sea and buried at Grimsby. The third was a Dornier Do 217E which was shot down by AA fire - it crashed at Long Riston, near Hull at 01.15. The crew were all killed.

A new German aircraft preceded a raid on Hull, it closely resembled the RAF's Mosquito and was called the Hornisse (Hornet) it was the Messerschmitt 410. On this night, operating at altitudes between 10,000 and 20,000' enemy aircraft appear to have been attempting to bomb nearby nightfighter airfields, they met with little success. However in the actual raid on Hull, fifty fires were started and twenty-six people were killed.

Night 1410. All times DST. Blackout begins: 23.39, ends: 04.44
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 01.22, All Clear: 02.13

Sunday, 25th/Monday, 26th July 1943  N1422

Enemy aircraft penetrated the York/Catterick/Church Fenton areas. Bombing was scattered and there were no casualties.

Night 1422. All times DST. Blackout begins: 23.23, ends: 05.02

Wednesday, 28th July 1943  D1425

A Hurricane fighter operating from Milfield airfield, near Wooler, crashed at East Fenton, also near Wooler at 10.40. The plane took fire whilst in the air. The pilot baled out and was uninjured.

Day 1425. All times DST. Blackout ends: 05.06, begins: 23.18

Tuesday, 3rd August 1943  D1431

A Halifax bomber operating from Melbourne airfield in Yorkshire was approaching its target area when an attack by a Junkers Ju 88 damaged the fuselage, both elevators were shot away and the rudders were shot to ribbons. Despite this the rear-gunner shot the Ju 88 out of the sky and the pilot got the Halifax back to its base, he was awarded the DFC and the rear-gunner the DFM.

Day 1431. All times DST. Blackout ends: 05.16, begins: 23.07

Wednesday, 11th August 1943  D1439

Flight Sergeant Frederick Penrose of 54 OTU based at RAF Milfield had a narrow escape when the engine of his Hurricane failed at 25,000 feet:

"I had flown the Hurricane for a total of about four and a half hours when I was sent off on an altitude climb.  At about twenty five thousand feet the engine started acting up and I turned back heading in the direction of our airfield.Almost immediately the engine packed up completely and I started to descend.  At this height I was able to check everything- and plan my glide to the aerodrome.  I radioed 'Mayday' and was immediately put on to the Wing Commander in flying control.  I told him what had happened and what I proposed to do.  After a few questions about the aircraft he agreed and I kept on course to the aerodrome.  Down one side of the aerodrome was a range of hills about five hundred feet high and as it happened I ended up low flying along the top, down the side, ninety degree turn to port, then another ninety degree turn to port, over the hedge, at just over one hundred miles an hour, passed a blister hanger, levelled out and eased her on to the ground wheels up.  The daily routine orders specified this in these cases as they thought it was safer than putting wheels down.  I had switched off the petrol and ignition on the approach.  When the aircraft stopped sliding I was out in a flash and walked along the wing which was only about a foot or so off the ground.  As I stepped down an airman put his arm round me and said 'You OK sergeant?'. I said sure and looked up to see the fire engine and ambulance standing a few feet in front and to the side of the aircraft.  A couple of days later I was told the aircraft was flying again after a new propeller had been fitted."

Day 1439. All times DST. Blackout ends: 05.31, begins: 22.51

Thursday, 12th August 1943  D1440

A Hurricane fighter operating from Milfield airfield, in Northumberland crashed in a grass field at Kimmerston Farm, near Wooler, owing to engine trouble. The pilot was unhurt. The aircraft suffered damage to its propeller and undercarriage.

Day 1440. All times DST. Blackout ends: 05.33, begins: 22.48

Tuesday, 17th/Wednesday, 18th August 1943  N1445

Bombs were scattered widely over the country, some falling in Yorkshire.

Night 1445. All times BST. Blackout begins: 21.07, ends: 05.14

Sunday, 22nd August 1943  D1450

In an incident very similar to that of August 12th this year , yet another Hurricane operating from Milfield airfield, in Northumberland, crashed in a field at Kimmerston Farm, near Wooler at 17.00, owing to engine trouble. The aircraft damaged a fence on crashing and in turn suffered damage to its propeller and undercarriage.

Day 1450. All times BST. Blackout ends: 05.21, begins: 20.56

Saturday, 4th September 1943  D1463

At RAF conversion units (a training unit for pilots changing the type of aircraft they fly, usually heavier planes) the accident rate was high. Riccall airfield near Selby, was one such unit and in this month alone ten crashes were recorded, although some of these took place outside the boundaries, they have, this once, been included as a pointer to the number of casualties caused by occurrences of this nature ... The first was at 14.10, caused by a Halifax bomber pilot, on a training flight, who collapsed the undercarriage as he tried to correct a swing on take-off. One of the crew was injured.

Day 1463. All times BST. Blackout ends: 05.46, begins: 20.24

Tuesday, 7th September 1943  D1466

At 12.00 a Halifax bomber operating from Riccall airfield in Yorkshire was on a training flight when it went into a steep bank to starboard with smoke coming from the starboard outer engine, the pilot recovered at 9,000' but the plane then spun-in and exploded two miles S of the airfield. Ten were killed.

At 17.05 at the same airfield a Halifax bomber had just landed when its undercarriage collapsed. The aircraft was a write off.

Day 1466. All times BST. Blackout ends: 05.52, begins: 20.16

Thursday, 9th September 1943  D1468

A Halifax bomber whilst on a training flight from Croft airfield, County Durham, developed a fault in the outer starboard engine. It crash landed on the airfield. One of the crew was injured.

Day 1468. All times BST. Blackout ends: 05.55, begins: 20.11

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