Air Raid Diary - The Luftwaffe attacks on Tees-side, 1940 - 1943


Published by Bill Norman, 2010). 280 pages . 144 b/w photographs. 34 other illustrations. Softback. (stiff card cover).
ISBN. 978-0-9547325-3-0. Price £12.50

Extract from Air Raid Diary

...Their specific task was to find and attack a convoy of merchant ships known to be steaming northwards along the Yorkshire coast between Scarborough and Robin Hoods Bay. Crews were told that there would be 10/10 cloud (i.e. completely overcast) in their operational area, with the cloud base at 300 feet and visibility up to three kilometres. With low cloud and reduced visibility to mask the raiders' approach from the convoy's gun crews, such conditions were considered to be ideal for such an operation.

The bombers found their target shortly before 15.00 and Ju88 S4+AH was later credited with sinking the ss Lerwick (5,626 GRT), four miles off the North Cheek of Robin Hoods Bay. Other aircraft damaged the ss Empire Masefield (7,023 GRT), which had to be towed into the Tees for repairs, but not all of the German crews chose shipping targets. The crew of Ju88 S4+EL saw the severity of the anti-aircraft defence put up by the ships in the convoy and decided to seek a 'quieter' alternative. They chose Dorman, Long's Redcar Ironworks at Warrenby, which they attacked at 15.17....


...Fred Sylvester considers himself lucky. He is now retired and living in Marske, but in January 1942 he was a 17year-old employee at the plant. He worked in the Steel Mill Ambulance Station/Time Office building, where he operated the telephone switchboard. He was also a trained First Aider and an Ambulance Messenger. In the event of any disruption to the telephone system caused by enemy action, his job as Messenger would ensure that a communication's link was maintained with the rest of the plant.

On the day of the raid, he worked his 06.00 - 14.00 shift as usual and handed over to his relief before cycling home to Redcar. As he reached the level crossing in Redcar Lane, he heard the muffled rumble of a distant explosion but was unaware that the plant had been hit until he turned up for work the next day. It was then that he learned that a raider had made a low-level approach from Coatham and had 'hopped' over the slag tip that stood some forty feet high on the seaward side of the breakwater road before bombing the works and escaping to seaward. He also learned that the building in which he worked was among those that had been destroyed and that the young lad who had relieved him the day before, 16year-old Alfred Hogan, was among the dead. Many years later, when Fred recounted the events of that day, he ruefully reflected that when he turned up for work the next day he was:
' ..considered to be too young to be involved in the carnage that resulted from the raid. In September 1942, I was in the Army, where a completely different view was taken'...

(extract from the attack on Warrenby Works, 13 January 1942)


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