The Shields Evening News

May 5th 1941 – How it was Reported.


When war broke out my father became a section leader in the wardens. He knew more about the raids than anyone else. He’d come home from work and say there’s still a yellow alert on. The beggers is hanging around somewhere. (Red alert meant the siren had gone.) One day he came off duty looking pale and sick and said the Germans had scored a direct hit on Wilkinson’s Lemonade Factory and hundreds had been killed.
Robert Westall: Children of the Blitz: p110



The Shields Evening News, May 5th 1941
Copies of the original newspapers for the war years can be viewed in the Local Studies Centre, North Tyneside Central Library.


Transcript of full article
There were several killed and many people were injured at a North-East coast town early yesterday when a high explosive bomb scored a direct hit on premises under which there was a communal shelter.
Several families were wiped out and many others suffered by the deaths of one or more members. Children were included among the killed and injured.
This shelter was extremely popular among residents of a working class district on account of the fact that it had been heavily reinforced and was warm and comfortable. It is estimated that 200 people entered it after the sounding of the sirens and later the terrific explosion caused the collapse of the building and the shelter.

Soldiers Help
Some people near the exit were able to escape and others were brought out alive by members of the rescue and demolition squads who worked heroically for many hours. They received splendid assistance from soldiers. The task of ferreting among the debris for casualties proceeded all day yesterday.
There were heartrending scenes of relatives inquiring after members of their family and there was agonising suspense while rescue work was going on.
Practically all rescued alive needed hospital treatment and although the majority escaped with minor injuries, there were some serious cases.
One man had a miraculous escape from losing a foot. Pinned down by a steel girder, rescue workers were unable to release him and a doctor went down the shelter and administered a sedative to relieve the man’s agony. Strenuous efforts to release him failed and the doctor decided that the only way to save his life was to amputate the foot.
When the doctor went for his instruments to carry out the operation, the rescue squad made a last bid to remove the obstruction and succeeded. The patient had been removed to hospital when the doctor returned.
Labels used by the firm on their bottles were scattered about the streets and by the irony of fate showed luscious fruit and bore the words ‘cheer up’.

Two Women Killed
Another bomb demolished property nearby and two women were killed. People in a surface shelter close to this incident escaped injury. A third bomb dropped on the beach and did no damage.
ARP services worked magnificently throughout the night and day and ignored the danger of wrecked parts of buildings collapsing in their frantic efforts to save as many people as possible. It is feared that there is no hope of other entombed people being brought out alive.
The raid was not a heavy one but it was unfortunate that a large shelter should have been struck.