March 1941

Mar

21

1941

The Plymouth Blitz

Damage at Millbay Station Plymouth during the Blitz

The next morning I had to walk from Freedom Fields to our bungalow in Granby Barracks in Devonport, and it took me three and a half hours. I was walking over the top of houses and things, and the flames were meeting over the streets, and people were crying ‘Oh my sons gone, my daughters gone’. It was just terrible to hear it. You would just try and comfort them some way or another. When I got home, low and behold Mummy’s bungalow was flat.

Mar

19

1941

One night in the London Blitz

The report from one East London Police Division for one night of the blitz, detailing the damage road by road.

The archive records for each Divisional police area, approximately equivalent to a London borough, contain page after page of records, with one or two pages for each day. The records for Plaistow for the 19th March 1941 are somewhat longer than usual, as this raid was the largest on London since the 29th December 1940, but is representative of the type of detail recorded. There is one unusual ‘feature’ – the death of Police Sergeant Murray, killed by blast in the Barking Road, on his way to an incident at the height of the raid.

Mar

18

1941

Hull blitzed

Grain silos after a raid at Hull. The important North Sea port of Kingston-upon-Hull was a very accessible target and suffered from constant Luftwaffe attention.

The week was characterised by a series of heavy raids, mostly on a number of ports and on London. Many were widespread, although docks or industrial dwellings in specific areas received the greater proportion of the bombs. Twenty-one R.A.F. Stations or aerodromes were hit, but with only slight damage.

Mar

17

1941

“Depth charges – captured – Heil Hitler – Kretschmer.”

The crew of U-99 celebrate return from a successful patrol in the summer of 1940.

As the U-Boat did not seem to be sinking fast enough, and it was feared that the British might try to board her, the Engineer Officer again went below to open wide the galley hatch which had previously been only partly opened. He never got out again, and the crew heard him shouting as the U-Boat sank. The Captain said that a W/T message was sent in clear, just before “U 99″ sank; but he did not know whether it was transmitted on full strength or not, or whether it had been received at his base. The signal read: “Depth charges – captured – Heil Hitler – Kretschmer.”

Mar

16

1941

Hitler ‘England will fall’

Hitler reviewing a troop march past during the ceremony.

The German Army is now the strongest military instrument in our history. In the months of this Winter our allies bore the brunt of the whole power of the British attack, but from now on German forces again will resume their share of this load. No power and no support coming from any part of the world can change the outcome of this battle in any respect. England will fall. The everlasting Providence will not give victory to him who, merely with the object of ruling through his gold, is willing to spill the blood of men.

Mar

15

1941

Clydebank counts the cost

One view of the devastation to the residential areas of Clydeside.

I don’t think it was a successful operation as far as the Germans were concerned, for when you think of the massive amount of bombs dropped there was very little damage done to the war effort industries like the Shipyards and munitions factories along the Clyde. I don’t think the ships being built were seriously damaged and Singers, which was a massive munitions factory and a very big target only sustained the woodyard fire.

Mar

14

1941

Clydeside bombed again

Fires burning fiercely at the height of the bombing of Clydseside, seen from the hills outside the town.

I remember walking along the canal bank with the moon shining brightly once again and lighting up the pathway we could plainly see many fires still burning, a perfect target for the Germans. Then the sirens started up, their wailing sound warning us that the bombers were on their way once more. Some people lay under hedges at the side of the road but we kept on walking towards the open ground.

Mar

13

1941

The Clydebank Blitz

A German reconnaissance photograph annotated with target markings used by the Luftwaffe for the raid on Clydebank.

The Inspector came into the room, his eyes full of concern and said, in his lilting highland accent, ‘There’s another body to come; it’s a couple who were sheltering under a walkway opposite the library and were blown into the road. The blast stripped them naked, but otherwise there’s not a mark on them. I’ve put them in here for decency’s sake until the van comes for them,’

Mar

12

1941

Focke Wulf factory bombed

One of the photographic interpretation reports made following the Focke Wulf raid after an unarmed Spitfire from the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit overflew the site at high altitude on the 15th. Most of the damage noted is to individual buildings but a series of craters is indicated at 8 and a large crater at 10, top left.

At Bremen, the Focke Wulf airframe factory was heavily attacked, and a long building burst into flames; a hit with a 1,000-lb. bomb was registered in the middle of this target and a terrific explosion ensued. Good fires were also reported to be burning in the industrial area of the town.

Mar

11

1941

First Halifax bomber mission

The Halifax bomber flew its first operational mission on 11th March 1941.

Unfortunately, one of the aircraft which had bombed Le Havre was mistaken for an enemy aircraft on the return journey and was shot down in flames at Normandy, Surrey, by one of our own night fighters. Only two members of the crew – the pilot and the flight engineer – escaped by parachute and survived.