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Author Topic: Chatham attack  (Read 7530 times)

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Offline bromptonboy

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2016, 16:56:17 »
The following is copied from my earlier post about raids on the Dockyard. It can be found under a search of the forum archive under Dockyard Smithery. 
 
Re: Dockyard Air Raid
Reply #3 on: June 06, 2010, 20:27:01

Quote
Been doing a bit more digging on the dockyard air raids. Details found in BofB reports and CWGC records as follows:-

19th August 1940 ~ Single aircraft attacked dockyard. Building wrecked by bombs. Five deaths:-
Frederick Amey - Killed.
William Edward Grant - Killed.
Frederick Sanderson New - Killed
George Alfred Hatt - Died of Wounds 20th Aug.
Archibald Rowland Barker - Died of Wounds, no date.

16.35hrs 18th September 1940 ~ Single aircraft attacked Chatham Dockyard. One building wrecked by bombs.

3rd December 1940 ~ Bombs dropped on Chatham Dockyard. Nine deaths:-
Andrew Alexander Sang - Killed.
Bernard Victor Tranah - Killed.
Robert Blakey - Killed.
Charles Norman - Killed.
Albert Spencer Burfoot - Killed.
Alfred Albert Alban OKA Hedges - Killed.
William Higgins - Killed.
Stanley Briggs - Died of Wounds 4th Dec.
John Robert Thomas Medhurst - Died of Wounds 4th Dec.


http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=6680.msg54247#msg54247

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2016, 13:01:13 »
Can't help with the actual date but it must have been before July '42 for that is when I came home to Gillingham (Cornwallis Ave.) from being evacuated. As a 12 year old, mad keen on anything to do with aircraft, I can say that there was very little bombing in the Gillingham area that I didn't get to hear about. And my Dad worked in the Dockyard, so he would have imparted news of any bombing there. By the way, it was a good job it was the fire & not the incendary bomb that the adults were trying to put out with water!

Offline Maid of Kent

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2016, 16:17:53 »
Help please. The other day found a link here which I can't find again. It gave three dates and times for bomb raids on Chatham Dockyard, made notes which I promptly lost. I want to pinpoint the one I especially remember, so I hope someone has an idea! It was between August 1940 to October 1943 - when I was living in the area. It was dark. I have no memory of the planes but it would appear they had come from the east along the Lower Rainham Rd, dropping their incendiary bombs certainly on the roof of East Court Farm, in the orchards ever westwards towards the dockyard - sort of pathfinders, I suppose. This raid was the same that flattened and destroyed all the houses on the hills above the dockyard which was rebuilt in the early 50s. The bus from Gillingham Stn to Chatham Town Hall went through that area after passing the Brompton Garrison and was diverted for several months.
At East Court, I remember someone banging on the kitchen door yelling our roof was on fire - an incendiary had dropped on the far west end of the Tudor building. The firemen couldn't come, busy elsewhere, so my Mother filled pails with water in the bathroom, handing them up to my Aunt at the top of the ladder who passed them through the hatch to my Uncle who raced  across the beams to douse the flames - we had plenty of milk pails. The three of them saved the building.

I was sitting on my Great-grandmothers lap in the pitch dark kitchen and later when we went out to go to the shelter in the orchard we could see the red of the sky over the dockyard. But what raid was that?

Offline peterchall

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2010, 18:28:41 »
The 'fright effect' of an event depends upon how it is perceived, not how dangerous it actually is. I remember a mate and I taking a dive behind the front garden wall of a house because we saw a low-flying twin engined plane coming towards during an alert. Our minds said "air raid alert, twin engined plane, must be enemy" - we were scared as hell, but it turned out to be an  RAF Wellington! Yet on other occasions we would stand in the garden at night listening to E/A and watching AA shells bursting, and only got a fright on those (rare) occasions when we heard a bomb falling.

Especially after June 1944, when V1s were coming over continuously, we never seemed to think that when we set off in the morning for school or work that it might be the last time we would see our families. I suppose it was the natural mental defence that the nasty things only happen to other people; how else, during the blitz, could we kids go to look at other peoples' bombed homes without thinking "that might happen to us tomorrow". As a WW1 veteran my dad's philosophy was "if it's got your name on it there's nothing you can do about it", and he only got up when the sirens went at night because mum and I pleaded with him.

I have posed this before on the Forum, but make no apologies for repeating it:
"My defining moment of WW2 came one night standing in the garden during an air-raid alert. Some aircraft were going over when there was the 'brrrr' of cannon fire and a moving light appeared in the sky, which burst into flaming pieces as a German plane came down. I was yelling "Hooray, they've got him" when my father, an ex-regular soldier who'd fought in WW1 and not known for his love of Germans, said "Shut up, there's men in that"?. Suddenly those flaming pieces said everything about the awfulness of war!?

 
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Offline Stewie

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2010, 17:33:59 »
Re: Reply #3. These sort of moments recalled from people who actually witnessed these events is quite intersting as you seldom think of the empty bullet casings raining dow on the ground below. My father used to tell me that he used to pick up bits of shrapnel after air raids but the thought of them hitting the ground in the high street is quite sobering.
Strange to think in these days of global terroism that when you worry about being blown up by a random outrage, generations before have already lived with this threat.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2010, 14:57:34 »
Yes, it was Chatham Tech, although I think there is now more than one school on the site. Actually I lived at Rochester and was a Rochester Tech pupil from Sept 1941 until Xmas 1943, but for some reason we were combined with Chatham Tech and spent roughly half our time at each place, with the pupils mixed in the classes, although each school still had its own cap and badge. Not only that, but we also had some lessons in the old Rochester Math School. I suppose it must have had something to do with making the best use of the teachers' time. So while we may not be 'Old Etonians', can we call ourselves 'Old Techonians'? :)
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Offline smiffy

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2010, 14:22:39 »
Hi Peter,

Thanks for your thoughts on this, I'd always been slightly dubious over this as my brother was very young when it happened and we all know that early memories can sometimes be a bit inaccurate. Having said that, the memory for him is very strong so something of real significance genuinely happened. The bit about empty shell cases clattering all around combined with the sound of gunfire would probably have had the same effect - I can imagine the first thing you'd do in wartime if this happened would be to take cover somewhere without even thinking about it, hence the part about being pulled into a shop doorway.

You mention a school near Huntsman's corner - would this be Chatham Tech? If so, that's my old school!


Offline peterchall

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2010, 13:20:36 »
Another thought; most aircraft cannon ammunition (eg: 20mm) was explosive, as opposed to 'solid' ammo of machine guns. So what happened to those rounds when they hit the ground? 40mm Bofors AA ammo exploded on impact, but would 'self-destruct' (hopefully!) at the end of its flight if it didn't hit a target. Does anyone know if that applied to 20mm ammo? Isn't it strange that, after 70 years, this is the first time this question has arisen in my mind? 
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Offline mmitch

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2010, 11:47:39 »
Years after the war my Dad and I were digging the front garden an he pulled out a 'bullet'. He was an air raid warden all through the war and said "We often found these after a raid"
mmitch.

Offline peterchall

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2010, 09:17:19 »
Hi Smiffy,
Here are some more thoughts that might help answer your questions.

I don't remember any serious low-level attack on the Medway Towns, nor can I find any reference to such in any books that I have. Medway was one of the most heavily defended areas of the country so, while they might get away with an initial surprise run over a target, for enemy aircraft (E/A) to make another run looking for other targets would have been near suicidal once the defences had been alerted.

However, from 25 July 1940, public warning was no longer given of single E/A, and if that is what it was and there were no casualties and little damage, it is not surprising that there is no record. I do remember being at school (at the boys' school at Huntsman's Corner) when there was the sound of a diving aircraft and (I think) gunfire, and the teacher made us get on the floor between the desks; we heard later (nothing official) that a single E/A had dived out of low cloud. I left school at Xmas 1943, so it would have been about the same time as your brother's experience - could it have even been the same event?

Another thing to remember is that, with fixed forward firing wing guns of a plane, the empty cartridge cases were dumped over-board and had to come to earth somewhere. Now, the over-riding memory of an air attack is the awesome noise - so imagine being in the street when there is the sound of aircraft going flat out, perhaps the sound of defending guns, then the clatter of something hitting the road and buildings - I think it would be difficult to know whether they were actual aimed rounds or empty shell cases from a plane firing at something some distance away - it would all have been equally terrifying. If the event had been after June 1944 it could have been empty shell cases from one of our own fighters firing at a flying-bomb, as I witnessed myself; the pilot would have been concentrating on his aim and probably unaware that he might be shooting it down over a town.

These are just thoughts that I hope throw some light on your questions, but it raises a question of my own. We often found pieces of AA shell in the street - in fact it was a hobby to collect these - but, of the millions of rounds of ammo fired by aircraft over SE England during the war, I don't remember finding any spent bullets or shell cases. Does anyone else remember?
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Offline peterchall

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2010, 22:05:04 »
I don't think there were any reporting restrictions on events like that. I think our propaganda was generally basically truthful, in order to keep public confidence in what we were told, but there was a natural tendency to 'make the most' of deliberate attacks on civilians. Canterbury town centre was attacked on the afternoon of 31 October 1942, with 33 dead and 110 injured, and the whole world was told about that.

On the other hand, a single aircraft diving out of clouds may not have been officially recorded.
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Offline Wardy

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Re: Chatham attack
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2010, 20:15:06 »
I remember cannon shell holes running in a line across the wall of Harold Leggs' rag shed wall in Slicketts hill. Which were running a line from High St. towards The Lines. This occurred During the latter end of the war.

Offline smiffy

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Chatham attack
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2010, 18:58:19 »

My brother has a wartime memory concerning an attack on Chatham High Street. This would probably have been around 1943, and he was very young at the time. However, he distictly remembers being out shopping with my mother and another of my brothers when a German aircraft made a straffing run along the High St. My mother pulled them both into a shop doorway to dodge the bullets until after the danger had passed. I'm not sure if there were any casualties or whether this was even reported at the time, not being sure as to what the reporting restrictions would have been concerning an event like this. I was wondering if anyone else has heard about this and whe
ther it was unusual. I can only assume this was a nazi hit and run attack, possibly on the Dockyard by a fighter-bomber and that they were allowed to go for any other targets of opportunity after their main mission was over.

 

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