Enemy Activity – May 3rd/4th 1941

North-East Diary 1939-1945 – Brian Pears

Saturday, 3rd/Sunday, 4th May 1941

The following information is sourced with permission from North East Diary 1939-1945 by Brian Pears and Roy Ripley

Bombs fell at Newcastle, Tynemouth, Throckley, Catcleugh, Morpeth, Lynemouth, Gosforth, Clifton and Stannington in Northumberland, Sunderland, West Hartlepool, Gateshead, Tees Bridge Roundabout at Billingham, Lambton Park, Castletown, Ryhope and South Shields in Co Durham and York and Hull in Yorkshire.

Night 609. Blackout begins: 21.14 BST, ends: 05.21 DST
Public Alert (Newcastle Warning Dist): 23.12 BST, All-Clear: 04.11 DST
Industrial Alarm: 23.10 BST, Release: 01.05 BST
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 23.10 BST, All Clear: 04.00 DST

 

 

Junkers JU88

Junkers Ju88 – Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-417-1766-03A / Ellerbrock / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday May 3 1941

00.30

Newcastle.. One HE on premises of Javel Group at the edge of the Quay, fifteen feet from the High Level Bridge. Small damage to old industrial property and surrounding derelict property. Quay wall damaged for short distance. Rail traffic diverted until bridge examined.

Newcastle.. Three HE on the town moor, two on north side and one on south side of Ponteland Road about 100 yards west of junction with Grandstand Road. Craters about 20 feet across.

01.05

Newcastle.. Twelve IBs Westfield, Oakfield Road and Woodlands, Gosforth. Two houses extensively damaged by fire. Inquiry into how fires got out of control reveals that one house was boarded up and internal doors locked.

01.15

Newcastle.. Number of IBs on north of city, between Forsyth Road and Moorfield, no fires started. IBs Nuns Moor and Kenton Moor, UXIB at Dukes Moor.

23.30

Northumberland.. One HE Westway, Walbottle Dene, Throckley, twelve houses damaged but habitable.

Northumberland.. One HE in a field south of Clifton Colliery [NZ201830]. Bungalow damaged.

Northumberland.. One HE Glororum Farm, Stannington district. Extensive damage to two cottages and to buildings at West Clifton Colliery.

Northumberland.. Four HEs Cross Cleugh Fell, Catcleugh [NT693034] – near to the reservoir, but on open fell. One UXB exploded 12.40 on 4th

 

24.00

North Shields.. Tyneside’s worst incident of the war occurred when HEs fell on North Shields; one scored a direct hit on Wilkinson’s Lemonade Factory at the corner of George Street and King Street, North Shields, where 192 people including many women and children were sheltering in the basement, 107 people died. Whole families were wiped out, including one of six. A soldier was called upon to identify his wife and four children, aged from two to fourteen. One of the heroines of this ghastly night was Mrs Ellen Lee, a woman warden who, although badly burned about the face, rescued thirty-two people from the shelter.

Of the other HEs that fell on North Shields, a single HE dropped on George Street, between Church Street and Queen Street. 2 people were killed.  A single HE fell on the railway embankment near to Stephenson Street and a single HE fell at the high water mark on The Flatts. There was major property damage.

Sunday May 4 1941

00.10

Northumberland.. Lynemouth.. 200 IBs in Dalton Avenue, Albion Terrace, Schoolyard, Eden Terrace, Chester Square area. Two seriously injured and six slightly injured. Five houses slightly damaged.

Gateshead.. A firewatcher died when HE hit Sowerby’s Ellison Glassworks at Teams in Gateshead, also HE fell on Saltwell Park.

23.03-03.13

South Shields.. Shortly before the siren sounded, approximately 600 incendiary bombs were dropped between the Stadium, Westoe and the Horsley Hill Estate. The few small fires which resulted were put out by the Street Firefighting Parties. No HE bombs were dropped in this raid.

23.20-02.00

Co Durham.. Chester le Street.. IBs fell at Lambton Park causing fires in woods. HEs thought to have fallen as windows were broken.

Co Durham.. Many IBs fell at Castletown, some explosive type, and HEs dropped between East Boldon and Castletown. Damage to house and shop windows.

Co Durham.. IBs fell at Ryhope causing fires to houses. A boy sustained injury to leg. Two HEs fell at Ryhope Colliery, no damage.

Co Durham.. Six HEs fell in vicinity of Tees Bridge roundabout, Billingham on A.1046 causing damage to fences and road. Two did not explode but did so later.

Co Durham.. West Hartlepool.. Two dead, two injured. Four HEs fell in field at Hart, causing damage to fences. Two did not explode but did so later. One HE fell at the rear of the Royal Hotel and two others on LNER property north of the passenger station. Hotel severely damaged and railway blocked. Gas and water main fractured, telephone and electric wires damaged. One HE fell on the Greyhound Stadium demolishing offices and grandstand. Two night-watchmen buried under wreckage and found to be dead on recovery. Blast caused damage to Cinema, Police Station and ARP Control Room. Fire broke out at Stadium but was quickly extinguished. One bomb fell on Slag Heap at South Durham Works causing damage to works railings only but a large amount of damage caused to residential property. Number of casualties through flying glass. Three other HEs fell at Throston Grange, without causing damage. Numerous IBs fell, some of the explosive type causing several fires.

23.20-02.25

An attack on a target area that stretched from Hartlepool to West Hartlepool and onto the northern part of Middlesbrough by twenty German aircraft which dropped thirty-two tons of HE and 2,160 IBs.

23.45-01.11

Sunderland.. Wear Street – Thompsons Saw Mill – ‘SS Empress Surf’ – South Dock area. Seventeen people were killed, fourteen seriously injured and thirteen slightly injured, when twelve HEs and many IBs fell in the above area. Eighty-five people were rendered homeless. Three large HEs straddled Fulwell, destroying the Caretaker’s house at Redby Schools which was completely demolished, the school premises were also seriously damaged. In Duke Street, shelters were no match for the power of the bomb where Mr and Mrs Anthony Storey were killed together with their daughters Audrey (four) and Edith (thirteen months). A Mr and Mrs Frederick Forster were also victims, while 200yds. away in Westcott Terrace another nine lay dead. A retired policeman returned to his home in Westcott Terrace after a firewatching duty, and found his house in ruins and his seventy year old wife and forty year old daughter dead.

Fires were started, industrial damage was slight. Little damage was caused by two HEs on the South Docks and one HE at Clarke’s Farm, Grangetown. Other HEs fell in the Fulwell and Roker areas, houses were demolished in Osborne Street and Fulwell Road. IBs caused damage in Hendon Road, Adelaide Place, Hedworth Terrace, Wear Street, Howick Street, Lawrence Street and Avon Street.

Sunderland thanked for assistance to Kingston upon Hull Fire Service May 8/9th.

23.50

Hull.. One PM and one GM dropped on Alexandra Dock, Marfleet Lane. The GM damaged the Marfleet works of Messrs J.H. Fenner, belting manufacturers, which caught fire. There was damage to Alexandra Dock, industrial and railway property, with several outbreaks of fire. One person was seriously injured.

Yorkshire.. Bombs were also dropped at York.

Clocks go forward by one hour at 01.00..

Types of Bomb

Abbreviated in the diary as ‘HE

Sprengbombe Cylindrisch or SC ….. this was a thin cased general purpose bomb which was designated by weight in kilograms – therefore a 50kg general purpose bomb became an SC 50, they contained 55% explosive which made them ideal for general demolition. There were SCs weighing 50, 250, 500, 1000, 1200, 1800, 2000 and 2500 kilograms. A Kopfring was sometimes fitted to the smaller bombs but was a fixture on those weighing over 1000kg, the Kopfring was a steel ring fitted around the nose to prevent excessive penetration before exploding.

There were a number of variations, when armed with an Electrical Impact Fuse, El.AZ (38), the SC 250 was used as a depth charge against submarines. The SC 50 and SC 250 could be fitted with a spike on the nose, this was used in low altitude attacks against railways and roads to prevent ricocheting, this version was named Stachelbombe (Spike Bomb), abbreviated to Stabo. Small incendiary bombs were sometimes attached to the tail fins of the SC 50, they were secured by a clip, but the best known attachment to the smaller SCs was a cardboard tube about 14″ long and cut like an organ pipe which gave out a shriek when the missile was falling. The Germans called this device ‘The Trumpets of Jericho’.

SCs up to 500kg were painted grey-green, the Stabo version was painted field-grey, the SC 1000 called ‘Hermann’, the SC 1200 and the SC 1800 called ‘Satan’ were painted sky-blue, the SC 2000 had the body and tail painted black, the SC 2500 called ‘Max’ was made of aluminium alloy, all had a yellow stripe painted on their tail fin. The SC 2500 was the largest SC dropped on Great Britain. Except for the two largest bombs in the SC category, there were a number of different versions of each weight. This could be determined by a change of fuse, the number of fuse pockets, a different filling, whether or not a Kopfring was attached, the casing was a different shape or a new type of tail unit was fitted.

Sprengbombe Dickwangdig, Splitterbombe or SD ….. a medium case steel, semi armour piercing fragmentation bomb. With an explosive filling of 35% and their penetration qualities, these bombs were ideal for use against fortifications or shipping, they were also used as anti personnel bombs. The weights were 50, 70, 250 and 1700 kilograms, up to 250kg they were painted grey-green, the 1700 was coloured sky-blue, all had a red stripe painted on their tail vanes or their tail cone was painted all over.

Panzerbombe Cylindrisch or PC ….. had a cast steel body with a hardened cast steel nose cone and with an explosive filling of 20% were classed as armour piercing. They came in weights of 500, 1000 called ‘Esau’ and 1400 kilograms called ‘Fritz’ and were all painted sky-blue with a dark blue stripe on the tail vanes. Ideal for use against fortifications and shipping, rarely used on ‘soft’ economic or industrial targets. The 1400kg version was later converted to a radio-controlled bomb.

Sprengebombe or SB 1000/410 ….. Introduced in January 1944 this was a thin walled high capacity parachute 1000kg bomb which contained 80% explosive designed to cause maximum damage in built-up areas and shaped to fit into the bomb bay of the Messerschmitt Me 410. The fuses were arranged to provide instant detonation. The bomb was oval in shape and measured 6′ overall, the body was 2’7″ at its widest. The parachute had wire stiffening and was about 5′ in diameter, secured to the bomb by thirty-two cords. The missile was painted field grey and the parachute was coloured red, green or blue.

Abbreviated in the diary as ‘PM’

Luftmine ….. originally meant for use as sea mines and known to the Germans as Luftmine A (LMA) of 500kg and Luftmine B (LMB) of 1000kg they were known to the British public as ‘land mines’. Basically there were only two sizes, 500kg, which was 5’8″ long and 1000kg, which was 8’8″ long and were triggered magnetically at sea, a clockwork fuse triggered the mine on land. They were first dropped in our coastal waters by Heinkel He 115 seaplanes flying at 900′, in November 1939, and first employed intentionally against land targets on 16th September 1940. The luftmine had an explosive filling of between 60% and 70% and was capable of creating a lot of blast damage.

The parachute was made of sea-green artificial silk and was about 27′ in diameter, secured by eighteen thick silk cords. There were two other types of parachute made up of 2″ wide khaki coloured silk ribbons woven together or secured in circular patterns to form the desired shape, they fell at a rate of 40mph. Without the parachute the mines would not have withstood the landing impact.

Abbreviated in the diary as ‘IB’

Brandbombe or B 1E and B 2E ….. One of the most effective weapons used against the UK during WW2 was the 1kg or 2kg magnesium incendiary bomb. World-wide, between 55% and 75% of the damage to towns and cities during the war was due to saturation bombing with incendiaries. Whilst falling the incendiaries were armed when the airflow caused a metal disc to pull a wire which in turn withdrew a pin from the lock that held the firing pin in the impact fuse in place. The bombs had a thermite filling which ignited the magnesium casing. The Civil Defence code for this bomb was IB.

The simple IB was soon made harder to handle by the addition of explosive tails (Civil Defence code Exp IB) or noses (Civil Defence code IBSEN) to deter firefighters. They were carried in containers, some of which were released with the incendiary load, the larger containers, some holding approximately 700 bombs were retained in the aircraft. The standard 1kg incendiary bomb was 13½” in length with a tail length of 4½” and a maximum diameter of 2″, the body was painted aluminium and the steel tail was coloured green. The explosive nose versions, now weighing 2kg with the addition of the explosive nose, usually had a body length of 20¾” and a variable tail length, the body was painted green, the explosive section black and the tail grey.

Abbreviated in the diary as ‘GM’

Bombenmine 1000kg, BM 1000 or Monika ….. known to the British Mine Disposal Service as the G Mine this was a relation of the 1000kg luftmine, but it was fitted with a tail unit made of Bakelite, which broke up on impact. With the same magnetic and acoustic functions it was designed to be dropped like a conventional bomb. Beneath a dome shaped cover there was a photo-electric cell device which when exposed to light detonated the bomb, this was a security device to protect the magnetic and acoustic components from bomb disposal units. The overall length was 9’4″, the body was 6’6″ long and 2’2″ wide.

Whilst the ‘Butterfly Bomb’ was the most dangerous to people, the ‘Incendiary Bomb’ was by far the most damaging to property, destroying 3¼ acres for every ton dropped as opposed to 1¾ acres for every ton of ‘High Explosive’ dropped.

German bomb tail units were always a permanent fixture, unlike those of the RAF and the USAAF which were attached when being prepared for bombing operations.

The arming of HE by electrical current was unique to the Luftwaffe, they also used mechanical fuses. There were many variations but broadly they fell into these categories:- impact fuse – short delay fuse – long delay fuse – airburst or proximity fuse – anti disturbance fuse and booby trap. Some of the anti handling fuses were operated by battery and could remain armed for a year.