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The Queen's

Last update:
19-Jun-2002

1996-2003
Mike Todd

Shields Gazette
Thursday, April 10, 1941

The following is a transcription from microfilm of the Gazette headline article about the bombing raid that destroyed the Queen's Theatre in South Shields. Sadly, the quality of the film and the copy it produced are very poor indeed, and I've been unable to decipher some of the text. Where text is indecipherable I've used [...] to indicate it, and where I've had to guess at words, they're enclosed in []. I've also tried to retain the appearance as far as possible.

MOONLIGHT RAIDERS
STRIKE NORTH-EAST
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Ruthless Bombing of Houses in
Several Towns: Theatre Gone
SHOWERING down thousands of incendiary mobs and many high explosives, Nazi moon raiders last night made a savage attack on the North-East Coast.
  The raid lasted several hours, wave after wave of bombers coming over to be met by fierce fire from ground defences which were constantly in action during the night and which compelled the raiders to fly at great heights.

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raiders have been shot out of the skies by our fighters and ground gunners. Attacks were again widespread.
   One, a Junkers 88, crashed near a village, the other, which came down in flames, fires some houses, and there were a few casualties. British night fighters were again co-operating with the ground defences.
   Raiders were over in large numbers, and at a late hour a heavy attack was launched on a West Midlands town by relays of 'planes.

Intensified Attacks

   High explosive and fire bombs damaged business premises and houses and early today rescuers worked to free people trapped in wreckage as bombs continued to fall
   After starting early in the night the attacks intensified later, and went on for some hours. Casualties included some killed. A number of the injured were at a police station that was damaged. Fires were started and immediately tackled by the fire fighting services.

Direct Hit on Shelter

   In another Midlands town considerable damage was done in a small areas. A tunnel being used as a shelter received a direct hit and a number of people were trapped. A schoo, a chapel and a cinema were also damaged.
   Bombs crashed down, too, in many other parts including the North-East, East Anglia and the South-East. Aircraft were heard during a London Alert, but no incdents had been reported when the raiders passed sounded some time after midnight.
   Three if the ten raiders brought down last night were destroyed in the Midlands, one in a Southern county, one in the sea off the East Coast, and another off the South Coast.
   The Air Ministry and Ministry of Home Security communique states: "Attacks by enemy aircraft last night were directed mainly against a town in the midlands and districts in North-East England.
   "The number of casualties in these attacks is not yet known and may provoe to be heavy."
   "Strong German bomber formations successfully attacked an English port and an important industrial centre last night," the official German News Agency claims today.

   Considerable damage was done to commercial and dwelling house properties and there were many casualties, some of which were fatal.
   A number of fires were started and, although Civil Defence personnel worked heroically in fighting these, the flames were not under control in some cases until dawn broke.
   One town, where there were a number of fatal and non-fatal casualties, suffered heavily from fire bombs.
   A theatre, commercial premises and houses were wrecked, and when dawn broke, firemen were still playing water from a hydrant on to the blackened shell of the theatre. During the night they had fought the fire increasingly ignoring the dangers to which they were exposed when huge tongues of flame leaped up into the sky and made the blazing building a target for the overhead bombers.
   Other buildings in the town were set on fire and at one time huge red glows could be seen in the sky before the Civil Defence services were able to get the flames under control.

Homes Left

   Some people had to leave their homes and be accommodated in [rest] centres where they were given food, hot drinks and shelter, while others were given refuge in houses in nearby areas which had escaped the damage.

   A thickly populated area of the town presented a pathetic spectacle at daybreak.

   Demolished houses, craters in the roadways, and old people standing looking at the remains of what had been their homes were some of the scenes. Rescue and demolition squads were working ceaselessly to release civilians who had been trapped beneath the wreckage of their houses.
   In other parts of the town a number of houses were damaged by high explosives and incendiary bombs. Voluntary fire-watchers dealt quickly with the majority of incendiary bombs, and in one instance a householder was so intent on helping to put out a fire started in a neighbour's house that he did not know his own home had taken fire.
   When his attention was drawn to this he promptly began attacking the flames in his own building and had them under control in a short time.

   At another house in this area a man and his wide who are both Civil Defence workers had just left home to report to the first-aid station when a high explosive bomb wrecked their house.

Splendid Work

   The A.R.P. Controller today paid to the splendid work carried out by the defence services during the raid: "All sections worked magnificently," he said, "and their morale was of the highest."
   Civilians showed a similar spirit and shortly after daylight industrious housewives were busy with broom and shovel clearing away the debris from near their houses.
   Notices such as "This window couldn't take it, but we can," appeared in damaged business premises, while one young business girl, looking coolly at her shattered bedroom window declared "Well, they've save me the trouble of opening my window to do my morning exercises today."

Saved, By Table

   Four people probably owe their lives to their kitchen table, for when their house received a direct hit, the table under which they were sheltering supported the debris which fell on them
   They are Mrs N. Nicholson, her two daughters, Laura and Mary, and her grandson, John Peel, aged [six] months.
   "We were sitting in the down-stairs of our house," Mrs Nicholson said today, "and when the gunfire became heavy we all went under the dining table.
   "We heard a bomb coming down, and heard a crash, and our house collapsed on us. We were completely buried by the debris, but the table supported it and none of us were hurt. My daughter, Mary, [created] a tiny hole through the debris and was able to shout for help. The rescue squads heard us and after about an hour we were rescued."
   Mrs Nicholson also had a narrow escape when a nearby house was [hit] several months ago.

Narrow Escape

   Another family also had a narrow escape when their house was bombed.
   Mr and Mrs William Piper, the [...] James (19), John (15) and their daughter Mary (28), were sheltering in the wash-house of their home when a high explosive bomb

 

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dropped on the house and partly damaged the wash-house.
   The wash-house was covered with debris and the occupants were trapped. They heard rescue men digging and by shouting were able to tell them their position, and were rescued unhurt.
   The next door neighbour, who had left his shelter and gone into his house, was also buried and was not released until about five hours later.
   In an adjoining house, four people were trapped and rescue workers were still digging for them this morning.

First Casualties

   In a long intensive raid on another town, a number of people were killed and injured - first air-raid casualties of the war.
   Hundreds of high explosives and incendiary bombs were dropped indiscriminately and there was considerable damage to property.
   One bomb demolished some shops, one of which belonged to Mr Thompson, a local fish merchant, who was killed at his home by another bomb.

   Two police officers were killed in another street. One was Constable Mornington Clements, who had 21 years service in the force, and who was due to start annual leave today.

   The other was ex-Inspector George Murray, who retired from the Force many years ago, and was a member of the Police War Reserve.
   Three members of the staff of a first-aid station are believed to have been killed. There are believed to have been casualties among first-aid workers in other areas of the town. Rescue and demolition squads were still working today searching among debris for casualties.
   Shops and residential property suffered severely and a number of persons were injured by flying glass.
   Some families were rendered homeless and the arrangements for their welfare were brought into immediate use.

Direct Hit

   Four houses were reduced to shambles in one street as a result of a direct hit by a heavy calibre bomb and all adjoining property was wrecked in the blast. A few bodies were taken from the remains and search is proceeding for others.
   Mes Emily Chalmers, who was bombed out in London, and was on a visit to the town, was injuered about the face head and hands by debris.
   The wing of a public assistance hospital was wrecked and there were many casualties, including five dead.
   Licensed property and several self-contained houses were razed in another section and a few people are understood to have lost their lives.
   An Anderson shelter in which there were memners of one family received a direct hit and all lost their lives.

Town Clerk Injured

   A considerable number of incendiary bombs were dropped at another town, together with a number of high explosives, some of which fell on working class houses.
   houses were demolished and there were some fatal casualties. A search continued for other people who were missing, including a newsboy.
   Amongst the killed in this town was a Home Guard who was on duty.
   The Town Clerk received severe burns to his face and hands when he attempted to put out an incendiary bomb which had fallen in the roadway.
   A school was among the buildings damaged. Some people were rendered homeless and received aid from the emergency services
   Another town which had many incendiaries showered upon it escaped serious damage and there were no casualties.
   At another town damage was done to property and three people were reported killed.

Store Wrecked

   Enemy plans during their attack on a North-East town damaged shops and a departmental store was wrecked by fire. This store, over three storeys high, was gutted. Flames shot high into the air and l ighted up the whole town.

   The Deupty Town Clerk, who was acting as a fire-watcher, helped to put bombs out.

   A club was damaged.
   A small number of high explosive bombs was dropped and on demolished five houses and a number of people were trapped beneath the debris.
   people are known to be dead and others were extricated in an injured condition.

Ten Enemy Bombers
       Down

   Nazis losses in the moonlight air-battle over Britain jumped by at least another ten last night.
   Thus, in the last three nights 23