South Shields bombed

The remains of the Woolworths Store, South Shields bombed on 2nd October 1941

Cecilia Brennan was a schoolteacher living in Jarrow in North East England. She regularly wrote to her sister Frances (Franc) and her letters provide a pretty comprehensive history of wartime life in the area:

Oct 3rd, 1941

My dear Franc,

….. I haven’t had a chance to write and tell you of the two hammerings we have had from Jeremiah this week….. The chief sufferers have been North and South Shields. Tuesday night’s raid made hay of Shields Market Place and High Shields station – about 28 or 30 people killed I believe.

When we were crouching in our shelter listening to the thundering barrage, two awful whistles sounded and then two fearful crashes; I thought Wansbeck Road was levelled but by God’s mercy the two landed in fields – one near the coke ovens and another on Lawson’s farm near the golf course. The new pub at Simonside has a huge bomb crater in the back garden and the back of the house wrecked.

Last night’s do was much worse than Tuesday’s. St Bede’s junior school (South Shields) got a direct hit, Laygate school is also wrecked, Croftons, Woolworths and Black’s Regal are done for and Binns is badly damaged. The patrons of Black’s Regal rushed to the public shelter in the market place and shortly afterwards the shelter got a direct hit. I was told there were 80 killed in there alone….. One of the jerries shot down three barrage balloons. He got the three in line and pumped tracer bullets into them.

We haven’t got a door on our shelter yet and it was pretty chilly these two nights especially as we had last night’s session before supper. To add to our troubles we discovered yesterday that Fred Giles next door is cherishing a rat among all the rubbish in his back yard. We have seen it nipping up and down the laburnum tree hand over hand like a monkey. We were terrified to go in to our door-less shelter in the dark in case that rat was there before us, but rat or no rat we had to run into it in the end.

In fact there were only 12 people killed in the public shelter but Cecilia was writing before everyone had been dug out.

See Wartime letters from Jarrow. For extensive details on these raids see Brian Pears’ comprehensive North East Diary 1939-1945.

Bombing was still on a small scale, although there was considerably more activity on the 2nd/3rd October.

On that night the Tyneside and Tees-side areas were attacked. South Shields suffered most. Fifty people were killed and about 250 buildings were destroyed.

On the same night Dover was attacked three times. House property suffered extensively and there were ten fatal casualties. Bombs were also dropped without serious effect at many points in north-east and eastern counties, Kent and Cornwall.

South Shields.

The Ship-building and ship repairing industries suffered severely. The electrical gear of the new sub-station of Brigham and Cowan, Ltd., Shipbuilders, was wrecked and workshops and stores of the Tyne Dock Engineering Company were damaged. Seventeen gas mains were broken but supply as a whole was maintained

From the Home Security Situation Report for the week see TNA CAB 66/19/9

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

T hansen November 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Vi hansen you have the same last name as me

Vi Hansen November 15, 2014 at 2:49 pm

my brother and I were evacuated after that bombing. I still remember the fear in all of us children

Margaret Fannen November 13, 2014 at 10:33 pm

I remember that night as if it were yesterday. I was 5 and we were in the Anderson shelter in the garden in East Boldon. Dad let me come up the ladder when the bombers were gone and the skies were a blaze of red from the fires in Shields

David Osborne October 5, 2014 at 12:01 am

I worked with manageress of South Shields
A Gateshead Woolworth

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