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The letters - 1944

 

Undated but appears between 12/11/1943 and 20/04/1944

I had my first sight of the barges yesterday. The Bridge was off for nearly twenty minutes to let two to go through to the sea. I stood on the dock wall to watch.

They are about 130 feet long with 23 foot beam and draw from about 2 foot 6inches to 4 foot six inches aft and will carry about 150 men plus a tank. The engine is well aft and there is only one mast, also aft, and they are open from the bow to the engine room. They were carrying large log rafts with iron drums like oil drums underneath and appear awkward to handle, especially at the low speed they needed as they went through. The tide was on the ebb and it was nearly low water. They are all iron and powered by diesel engines, I think.

Of the two, the highest was numbered 163. I hear they come often come in at night and go to sea the next day. Probably here for refuelling.

Editor: Security must have been really good. AJT seems to get to know about most things but does not seem to be aware of HMS Myloden, a Combined Operations and Landing Craft base where Royal Marines and combined operations personnel were training to handle landing craft. It was situated on the site of the old Silk Factory, on the south side of Lake Lothing with access to it from Victoria Road via School Road. Practical training was carried out at sea with craft regularly in transit on exercise between the base, Great Yarmouth and HMS Wolverstone, another landing craft training establishment on the Orwell.

From the description they sound like LCI (L) [landing craft, infantry, large]. The full spec. is: 158 feet overall length, 23 feet beam, drawing 4.5 - 6.5 feet, powered by 2 shaft General Motors diesels, 1440 bhp and capable of 14 knots, armed with 4 x 20mm and 2 x .303 mgs., with a crew of 24, capable of carrying 188 troops. They were built for the US navy by Federal Shipbuilding of Port Newark (USA) and supplied to UK under the Lend/Lease arrangements from 1943. (Warships WW2: p624),

Wednesday 23 February 1944

The Blitz: A Heinkel He 177A-3 (332227) of 3/KG100 was shot down by Fl. Lt. Baillie and Fl. Off. Simpson in a Mosquito Mk XVII of 25 Squadron, which crashed at Yoxford at 12.12am . Oberfw. W. Ruppe, Uffz. G. Lobenz, Uffz. F. Beck, Gefr. G. markgraf and Uffz. E. Werner were killed. Tail gunner Obergefr. Emil Imm came down strapped in the tail two miles from the main wreck and was found ten hours later. He has broken both legs and was taken to Colchester Military Hospital. The aircraft 5J+QL broke up in the air. (The Blitz Then and Now, Vol3, p341).

Thursday 23 March 1944

The Blitz: The body of Fw. R. Trabant was found in a dinghy in the North Sea. He had been a member of the crew of a Junkers Ju 88 of 7/KG6 which is presumed to have been a victim of a night fighter and which crashed in the sea on the Norfolk/Suffolk border on the night of March 21/22. Oberlt. R. Knodler (Staffelkapitan) and Uffz. G. Harzheim were killed. Oberfw. G. becker missing. Aircraft lost. (The Blitz Then and Now, Vol3, p352).

The Blitz: A Junkers Ju 188E-1 (260236) of 4/KG2 was shot down by Fl. Lt. Carr and Fl. Lt. Saunderson in a Mosquito Mk XVII of 25 Squadron and crashed into the sea three miles south of Southwold at 1.15am. Hptmn. H. Eichbaum (Staffelkapitan), Uffz. J. Ricklefs, Uffz. F. Hartstack and Gefr. H-U. Albrecht missing. Fw. F. Koban (slightly injured) baled out and was taken prisoner. Aircraft U5+DM sank in the sea. (The Blitz Then and Now, Vol3, p363).

Thursday 20 April 1944

We had two exciting nights last week.

At 10.45pm I had just taken off my coat and waistcoat when a wail started so I put them on again. Nothing happened and at 11.15pm I started to undress again when at 11.20pm another one went which lasted about an hour, then the 'All clear'. Then we heard heavy explosions and the 'Cuckoo' came on immediately followed by another wail. Five bombs were dropped in the neighbourhood of Oulton Broad with no casualties and not much damage. It is said that one house with only one occupant, a woman, had one in the garden which lifted the whole house up and dropped it again. She suffered from shock. This all went on until 1.45am the next morning and we went to bed at 2.15am. Afterwards there were two more 'Alerts' which I heard in my sleep, five in all, finishing at 5.10am. There had been much activity all day.

Port War: 'Port War' records six High Explosive bombs dropped in Normanston Drive, Hall Road and the LNER sleeper depot,

Saturday 22 April 1944

The 'Alert' sounded about 10.15pm and we stayed up. The 'All clear' sounded at 11.30 and we started going to bed and then another 'Alert sounded at 11.45. Several search lights were on and we also saw recognition flares all over the place from bombers - American - coming home. I saw a very bright red light well south of us about Kessingland and then a big flash from the ground which kept alight for five minutes then gradually died.

We hear that there was one down on the marshes and that they were attacked by Jerry intruders. The bombers came back with all lights on everywhere and the Jerries got seven within our district. The intruders dropped recognition flares similar to ours and they came in with our own planes.

Port War: 'Port War' records two USAAF Liberators shot down that night, one in the sea off Hopton and one at Kessingland. They were both believed to have been shot down by a German night-fighter intruder and there were no survivors from either.

The Blitz: Intruder operations by Messerschmitt Me 410's of II/KG51 on April 22/23 resulted in the destruction of an Albemarle and thirteen US 8th Air Force B-24's as they returned from an attack on marshalling yards at Hamm. A Messerschmitt Me 410A-1 (420458) of 6/KG51 was shot down by return fire from a B-24 of 389th Bomb Group (based at Hethel) and crashed at Hall Farm, Ashby St. Mary, Norfolk. Lt. K. Kruger and Fw. M. Reichardt were killed and the aircraft 9K+HP was destroyed. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p365).

Monday 15 May 1944

The Blitz: A Messerschmitt Bf 109G-12 of 1/Jagdfliegerschule 102, "A two seat training variant being flown from Zerbst, attempted a forced landing at Herringfleet Hill near Lowestoft at 6.57pm. The deserting pilot, Oberfw. Karl Wimberger (injured) was captured and taken to Lowestoft Hospital before being taken under escort to the RAF Hospital at Lingfield, Surrey. The aircraft marked with white 22+ was wrecked. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p369 and 371-3).

Thursday 15 June 1944

The Blitz: A Messerschmitt Me 410 of 5/KG51 was lost in an intruder sortie over East Anglia. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p381).

Editor's note: After the invasion of German held Normandy on 6th June there was a complete lack of enemy air activity over East Anglia for some months, until....

Saturday 14 October 1944

I had thought I had finished with these notes and said to Mother that we should never hear another siren. I was quite wrong. We have had three or five 'Sirens' each night or early morning and one Doodlebug over this house at 3.00am this morning. Ruth saw it travelling in a straight line over our trees.

Sunday 15 October 1944

'Sirens' and 'Cuckoo' last night at 8.30pm and another at 12.30am and 3.00am this morning. A flying bomb was hit and damaged at Corton. It came in over the town and fell in lake Lothing. There was damage to Brooke's works and on the opposite side of the river, with no casualties. We heard it very plainly.

Monday 16 October 1944

We heard Doodlebugs and also close heavy firing on two occasions with some heavy thuds some distance away. One was hit over Kessingland and exploded over Southwold. No heavy damage reported but a great deal of glass blown out and all the south-facing windows of the church and some shops.

Tuesday 17 October 1944

At the Committee Meeting at the Kitchener on Tuesday Godfrey told us a V2 had dropped close to Somerleyton in a meadow. It did not explode but was considerably damaged. He saw part of it and it was 45feet long and 5 feet in diameter. I asked whether he meant circumference and he said no, diameter. He said it was estimated that it weighed seven tons at discharge, it is fired from a gun or long tube and used up four tons of rockets on its journey. There was three tons of explosive on impact.

It carries two automatic radio-location gadgets which would gibe rough information as to its final position, presumably if it does not explode, otherwise I do not imagine they would have any tale to tell. The rockets carried it up twenty miles into the stratosphere at an enormous speed. The Germans have discontinued them as unsatisfactory.

It seems they ice up very badly and when they descended into our atmosphere the sudden change in temperature caused them to explode in the air. Godfrey knows the colonel and also his staff very well. They went to see the remains, the colonel, a major and lieutenant and two sergeants whom he also knows.

After their survey the latter walked away followed a little way behind by the officers. The lieutenant picked something up, started twiddling with it and it exploded and killed him. The colonel and major were a few yards away but they were injured and had to be taken to hospital. The remains of the bomb were afterwards crammed into a huge lorry, with difficulty, and taken away for further examination.

Wednesday 18 October 1944

We heard the heavy guns at 11.00pm and apparently they hit another Doodlebug over Corton. It came in over the town towards Oulton Broad and dropped close to back's house at Mancroft Towers at the back of Fisher Row. I'm told his house very badly hurt and the Lodge cut in two. Other houses in the area had their windows blown out as did Waller's shop. There were very slight casualties.

Thursday 19 October 1944

We had an 'Alert' and a 'Cuckoo' at 9.00pm and another at midnight.

Friday 20 October 1944

An 'Alert' and the sound of a doodlebug passing overhead. No gunfire and all well. At 6.30am today someone apparently tried the front door. We thought someone was in the hall, it woke all three of us up and Tibby went off the deep end. Ruth saw a light on the garden and thought it was from a bicycle. There was no explanation and nothing in the letter box.

Sunday 22 October 1944

The last two nights have been quite quiet, the first for some weeks.

Wednesday 25 October 1944

Two 'Alerts' each night or early morning yesterday and today. No gunfire or anything. I hear an Ipswich suburb had a bad do with four killed and several injured and many houses down.

Saturday 04 November 1944

After an interlude of four nights we had an 'Alert' at 7.15pm with a 'Cuckoo', lasting three quarters of an hour and at 8.15pm another one on until 9.00pm. We shot down six out of seven near here and Pounder saw one turn inland and go over The Venlaw. We were told a fighter dropped a flare and followed it, shooting it down. In the second bunch we only got one.

Sunday 05 November 1944

At 7.25pm another lot came along. There was good gunfire. Ruth who had been out to tea saw a large ball of orange fire in the sky as she walked home, where one was hit off Kessingland. We managed four that night when the second batch came in with the 'Cuckoo' five minutes after the 'All clear' had gone.

Monday 06 November 1944

Between 7.00pm and 9.pm we had another two batches and brought down five. One of these nights we heard a big explosion and we think it was the Heinkel brought down in the sea. We heard two similar crashes one night last week when two Heinkels were brought down. No damage here from any of the above but we hear more glass smashed at Southwold.

The Blitz: A Heinkel He 111H-16 of 8/KG3 involved in air-launching V1's against Britain suffered engine trouble and was forced to ditch in the sea 50 miles off Great Yarmouth. Uffz. T. Schlick and Uffz. W. Kirchvogel missing. Uffz. K. Schulte, Uffz. H. Weber and Obergefr. H. Muller rescued from a one-man dinghy and landed at Harwich the next day. Aircraft 5K+FS sank. (The Blitz Then and Now, vol3, p480).

Mrs. Smith saw four bombs fall into the sea one night. There was one of our planes over us at 10.00pm soon after the 'All clear' which circled round and round very low, making a terrific noise. We think he might have been lost and expected the searchlights to help him.

Tuesday 07 November 1944

Tuesday night was quite quiet I am pleased to say.

Thursday 09 November 1944

An American plane had an engine on fire going out. We hear he circled the town then his engine fell out and dropped down onto Boots bombed site in London Road. He headed toward the sea and the crew bailed out and were picked up by the RAF rescue boat.

A plane fell at Lound the same day and the crew of two were killed.

We had some Doodlebugs pass over here in the evening about 8.30pm. We heard two very plainly and hear that others were shot down although there was only firing in the distance from here. I think they may have been shot down by the ships, perhaps.

Monday 13 November 1944

'Alerts' each night with one at 6.30pm tonight but no local guns, they must be farther along our coast. The rocket bomb I described in an earlier letter as Godfrey's story fell between Corton and Gorleston at the right hand sharp turn toward Gorleston. Two cottages were demolished and a rectory damaged one and a half miles away by the blast. It did not really explode or there would not having anything to examine as they did. I think the radio gadgets found in it were in connection with guidance and there were two of those steadying things - I can't think of the name but we had one as a top and spun it with a string.

Tuesday 14 November 1944

At 7.00pm we had a 'Cuckoo' and 'Siren'. A Doodlebug came in, Pounder saw it too, over Hatfield House and then over us. We thought he was taking off our roof but everyone thought he was over their house. There is a sustained report that a Mosquito who followed the bomb in was shot down by our guns farther inland and fell somewhere near Somerleyton.

Thursday 16 November 1944

Last night and tonight have been quiet. There was a second 'Alert' at midnight on Tuesday although we heard neither that nor the 'All clear'.

Sunday 19 November 1944

At 8.00pm Mother was just coming in to the Drawing room with the teapot and kettle in her hand when the 'Cuckoo' went. Rix and Miss Breese were here. Before the alarm stopped a Doodlebug was nearly on top of us and the increasing noise was terrible. We heard it just pass over and the engine shut off, meanwhile the town 'Alert' was sounding. About two minutes later we heard the bump. I guessed it was five or six miles away but it fell on Carlton village, rather close to some bungalows. There were two killed and one old lady sitting in her chair died.

Apparently at Low Farm (Guymer's) an outbuilding has been flattened and two cottages and a bungalow demolished. Another bungalow has been de-roofed and several more damaged. Rescue parties from here went out within ten minutes. Hodgson went over to see it and our char-lady has biked over and told us the Adventist Church was split in two.

Some recent local damage here: Miss Cochrane's windows in The Avenue were blown in and Goulder's kitchen ceiling is partly down. The Co-op shop opposite Tooke's had a large window blown in. Dew had windows broken and shop fittings damaged. All plenty near enough for us.

25 December 1944

Editor's note: AMT (Michael) recalls that the whole family were together at Walmer House, Lowestoft for Christmas 1944 and that his brother Keith, who had recently been promoted from Pilot Officer to Flying Officer, was on leave from Belgium.

Keith had converted from Baltimores to Wellingtons and was a navigator/observer with RAF 69 Squadron, part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, on low-level night reconnaisance. They woukd fly over the battlefield front line and supply photographs and observed intelligence to the Allied ground forces.

 

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