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Last days of the Blitz.

NOBODY knew it at the time, but 70 years ago the Blitz on Teesside was just about over.

The last substantial air raid occurred on the night of March 11/12, 1943.

This was the first raid since February 3, so the raids were becoming more sporadic. They had started three years earlier in May 194S 0.

This final air raid started at 9.42pm and at 11.30pm flares were dropped over Newport Bridge and elsewhere.

Three high explosive bombs were dropped on South Bank landing near the police station, fire station and in Skippers Lane.

Two people were killed and 31 were injured as well as 150 properties being badly damaged, 10 of these seriously.

The South Bank to Middlesbrough road was unpassable for two days.

Two parachute mines fell at Thornaby, one near the Five Lamps and the other at the junction of Clare Street and Thornaby Road destroying the Britannia Hotel. An electricity sub-station was also hit, causing a power cut to nearby industries.

Three people were killed and 75 were injured.

Another high explosive bomb hit Lawrence Street and Yarm Lane, killing one man.

There were no bombs falling on Middlesbrough that night but three firewatchers were seriously injured, two of them later dying from their wounds.

This was caused, not by an enemy bomb, but by one of our own anti-aircraft shells which exploded near them.

Then on the night of March 14/15, 16 incendiary bombs landed on Seaton Carew and Hart village.

Although some damage was done to a farmhouse, there were no recorded casualties. On March 22, between 10.30pm and just before midnight, incendiary bombs fell in the Grinkle Park, Scaling and Easington area without effect. However, three houses in Zetland Road, Redcar, were damaged by incendiary bombs but a large number of these fell on the beach at Warrenby and into the sea.

A few more landed on North Gare near the zinc works. That was the last time bombs landed on Teesside.

The bombs caused no fatalities but nevertheless tragedy struck.

The Z-gun battery at Portrack opened fire at the intruding bombers, firing a total of 216 rounds.

During the action a shell exploded prematurely, killing two members of the Home Guard and injuring two others manning the battery.

There were a number of alerts and the anti-aircraft battery at Portrack was in action again on May 24 1943, firing 55 rounds at an unseen target. After that the air raid sirens sounded occasionally but no bombing raids occurred on Teesside.

We are indebted to Bill Norman's excellent book, Air Raid Diary, for the information in this feature.

| Air Raid Diary is available from Waterstones Book Shop ISBN 978-0-9547325-3-0.


DETAILS: Bill Norman's diary, left, and Teddy Burr, Fred Bycroft and Bill Evans of the Home Guard manning an anti-aircraft gun, right

BOMB DAMAGE: The Cannon Street area of Middlesbrough in the aftermath of a raid in October 1940. The Blitz began earlier that year but was just about over by March 1943
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 26, 2013
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