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Thread: Was RAF Usworth ever attacked by the Germans during WW2?

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    Default Was RAF Usworth ever attacked by the Germans during WW2?

    Hello again,I've been thinking about something that I've been eager to confirm ever since being a young boy.

    It relates to one of my granddad,Norman Fenny's wartime memories which I have only heard via my own father.My granddad told him about was an attack an airfield where he was based in the North East.This was only time his life was ever directly at risk from the Germans in the whole war.My dad told me that the incident happened at RAF Usworth near Sunderland.

    My granddad explained that one day at Usworth a German fighter aircraft, hiding in the clouds,decided to follow a Hurricane coming into land at the airfield. I can’t understand why this lone aircraft decided to attack,but it managed to strafe the airfield and then escape.I think granddad described the German’s actions of latching onto a Hurricane on finals as ‘playing pussy’. Was there such a term in the RAF? I haven’t seen it in RAF Slang references. I’ve never heard it in colloquial English either.Unless it’s a Geordie/North East expression??

    My granddad was out in the open when this aircraft was sighted and recognised as being ‘hostile’.He had to take cover in a hurry in as it caught the airfield completely off guard.

    I have wondered whether anyone can shed any light on this family account. To repeat what I’ve stated in my earlier questions relating to my granddad’s RAF service,we can no longer ask him as he passed on in 1988.

    All I can say is that It must have happened post 1941,after granddad joined the RAF.He entered service in January 1941 and I suppose he did his square bashing and initial training for groundcrew work at Usworth.

    I do believe the airfield incident DID occur and that it wasn’t a tall tale which may have been fabricated by my granddad.He was a quiet and honest man,not one known for embellishing the truth or lying. I think my dad first heard of the incident when he himself was young in the 1950s,so his father most likely had a good recall of what happened in the war and where things happened.So perhaps the attack happened at Usworth

    The Luftwaffe did apparently have single aircraft operating on sorties in the north east,which apparently were still active around the time when the Germans’ mass air offensive against the UK was starting to wind down. E.g. the end of the first Blitz On 27th April 1941,for example, a single He111 sank the Camship HMS Patia off Northumberland having set sail only hours before.I’ve listened to an interview with a survivor of the sinking who stressed the attack by the lone 111 happened so suddenly.They only saw it shortly before it came into attack. The Patia veteran doubted it was a chance encounter and that the Germans sent the plane to destroy their ship after receiving intelligence in some form…

    However, this confirmed incident,gives some weight to our old unconfirmed war story.The style of attack is similar :- sudden, single aircraft attacks. Since 1940 and even up to 1943 the Germans did conduct sneak,hit and run or nuisance bombing or fighter bomber sweeps in the UK.

    However, I’ve found no reference to anything which precisely refers to what my granddad describes either in books and even the north east war diary website.
    I was thinking about purchasing a book about the Luftwaffe and the North East.I was hoping to find out more about the Germans’ air activity in the area.So far I’ve found this account LUFTWAFFE OVER THE NORTH by Bill Norman.

    I don’t know if it’s comprehensive enough for my research?

    I have wondered if there is a report or ORB entry say in RAF Usworth’s or 55 OTU’s operations book to confirm this story.I’m sure air attacks on bases had to be recorded down.But I wouldn’t know where to look or whether I’d find anything of use at the NA.


    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Jonathan
    Last edited by JonF; 26th November 2009 at 18:59.

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    Hi Jon,

    According to this reliable source:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Usworth#The_Second_World_War

    RAF Usworth was attacked on 15 October 1940.

    This site:

    http://www.bpears.org.uk/Misc/War_NE/w_section_08.html

    Has a few more stories of attacks during different periods of October 1940 and beyond

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Well,German air activity seems to have continued into autumn 1941,which I never knew.The Germans were definately attacking RAF airfields in early Sept 1941.What was the strategy behind this?

    I must have overlooked the amount of information on the bpears website before.

    It definately mentions bombs falling near Usworth airfield on 7/8th September 1941.It even mentions a plane machine gunning a colliery somewhere close to my granddad's peacetime home town

    It looks likely that one plane could have attacked the airfield sometime in 1941 when granddad was there.

    Thanks for the links.

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    Hi Jon,
    Dave has had a little trouble with his fingers, the date should read as 15 august 1940. However, they didn't attack on that day either. There were many attacks on the North East coast from as early as October 1939 but I am unaware of any on RAF Usworth. My period of interest finishes in 1941 so, I'm not sure what happened after that. This link should prove better than that other one.
    http://www.neam.co.uk/usworth.html
    I do know that Dave Charles, the author of the above, has written a book on the subject, privately published I think: if interested e-mail me and I will put you in touch. Bill Norman has written a few books on Luftwaffe activity in the area, his website is here from where you can contact him.
    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/william.norman13/newsite/books.htm

    Hope this is of some help.

    Best Wishes.
    Robert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by northeagle View Post
    Hi Jon,
    Dave has had a little trouble with his fingers, the date should read as 15 august 1940.
    Hi Robert,

    It wouldn't be the first time and it certainly won't be the last.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Cheers,

    Dave

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    The intruders of (IIRC) II./NJG 2 were active over the UK for a large part of 1941. I've a copy of "Intruders Over Britain" by Simon Parry upstairs, I'll have a squizz to see if there's info on the incident you describe.

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    There's no direct mention of your incident, however Luftwaffe intruders were certainly making night-time attacks up to mid-October 1941.

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    David Charles' book is No.78 in the Airfield Focus series: Usworth Sunderland Airport. I can find no reference to this incident in the book, but I'm sure he'll be interested.

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    I'm quite sure that my granddad served w/55 OTU,because we have a xmas card photo showing a hurricane with the message 'Seasons greetings from 55OTU.'My gran's address book records that he was 55 OTU and mentions Usworth.

    But I have forgotten/overlooked an important fact about 55OTU...that is they had a satelite airfield at RAF Ouston during 1941-2.

    Quoting wikipedia about Ouston

    "Throughout its first year of existence, the station had also served as a satellite for 55 OTU's Hurricanes from Usworth but was given up when the OTU moved to Annan at the end of April 1942."

    Perhaps he was at both at different times,leading to the possibility that the strafing incident happened there,not at Usworth.

    Dad mentioned Ouston last night when remembering about the xmas card.Perhaps he recalled an old memory that had lain dormant for years?

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    Hi Jonathan,

    Does this help:

    http://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/news/news_at_a_glance/ouston_s_role_in_beating_the_luftwaffe_1_179406?re ferrerPath=history

    Regards,

    Dave

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