24th April 1941 – Air Raid

00:10 hours: Raid 94, 1 aircraft at 8000ft entered sector from Thornaby area and turned east out to sea over Sunderland at 00:28 hours. There was no fighter action due to poor weather. (This was likely a pre-raid reconnaisance flight)

03:30 hours: Further X raids appeared east of sector. Beaufighter R2256 of 600 Squadron left Catterick at 04:10 to investigate but nothing was seen. Beaufighter R2256 landed again at 05:28. The X raids proved to be returning friendly bombers. 

07:19 hours: Raid X502 appeared just off the coast south of the Farne Islands and came south towards Blyth, flying very low. Red section of 72 Squadron (airborne from Acklington 07:23 to 08:06) were ordered to investigate. Area supposed to contain raid was thoroughly searched, but no contact was made. On raid fading, section was ordered to land. Yellow section of 72 Squadron (airborne from Acklington 07:31 to 08:06) patrolled convoy “DELTA” until 07:41 when they were ordered to patrol the Farne Islands.

During the afternoon a number of X raids appeared just off the coast between Farne Islands and Blyth. Black section of 317 (City of Wilno) Squadron left Acklington in their Hurricanes at 13:25 to investigate one, but had to land owing to radio trouble. They were replaced by Green section of 317 (City of Wilno) Squadron (airborne from Acklington 13:32 to 14:13). Blue section of 317 (City of Wilno) Squadron (airborne from Acklington 13:42 to 14:07) were also detailed to the raid. Black section of 317 (City of Wilno) Squadron left Acklington at 14:51 on a similar mission and landed 15:30. No sections had anything to report.

21:15 hours: Single aircraft raids at heights of upto 30,000ft began approaching sector from the south east and made landfall between Sunderland and Farne Islands. They operated over the coastal area, concentrating mainly on Tyneside and Blyth. Numerous flares were reported. High Explosives, mines and incendiaries fell in these areas causing some damage, but no vital places were hit. Casualties were low. Heights of enemy aircraft overhead were confirmed as 10,000ft.

A Blenheim L1128 (P/O Hough & Sgt Grant) of 600 Squadron was ordered off at 21:30 and was vectored out to sea between incoming raids and the Tyne. No contacts made and Blenheim L1128 landed at 23:52. Another Blenheim was ordered off at 22:15 but did not take off because of wireless failure.

A Beaufighter was ordered down from Drem but returned on instructions from Turnhouse when it was discovered that Ouston would be unable to fix aircraft on frequency carried.

There was considerable damage to property in Byker and Heaton and tragically, 47 people were killed, and whole families were wiped out. The youngest victim was nine-week-old Joseph Reed, the oldest was 77-year-old Isabella Harrison.

Bodies were still being recovered five days later. Those who remained unidentified were buried in a common grave in Heaton Cemetery.

*note: X raids were unidentified aircraft and classed as a raid until identified.

The destruction at Guildford Place in Heaton following the raids on 25th April 1941.

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