Resurgan

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Readie, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    I have been reading 'Plymouth - A shattered city' by Gerald Wasley published in 1991.
    There a few comments in the book that I thought may interest members of the forum.

    On the 30 April 1944 a Dornier 217k ( with extended wing span) arrived over Plymouth with a pair of Fritz-X radio controlled armour piercing bombs to attack the battleship HMS King George V.
    The bombs were not deployed due to a smoke screen and this was the first time these bombs were used.

    The Germans intended to attack Plymouth with V1 flying bombs from 7 launching sites on the Cherbourg peninsula.

    Due to different hose fitments the other Fire Brigades that came to try and rescue Plymouth from the fires were unable to help....

    Lord Haw Haw lived in Plymouth in the 1930's

    Gloster Gladiators defended Plymouth during the first Blitz's From July 1940 until replaced by Hurricanes.

    A report from R V Jones of the WW2 Intelligence service showed that Plymouth 'was vulnerable ( to enemy aerial attack) and could not be effectively protected.

    The Plymouth Blitz lasted from 06 July 1940 until 30 April 1944.

    The 1940 summer in Plymouth was abnormally dry, leaving the city desperately short of water. So much so that supplies were cut off at night...to cap it all the Plymouth fire control centre was short of telephonists !

    Another master piece of planning was to put the Control Centre in a major target zone, when it ( unsurprisingly was destroyed) it was relocated to another major target zone....

    When 'The Blitz' is mentioned in Britain its usually taken to mean London and Coventry.
    This book puts the record straight and makes critical points, finds humour and catalogues Plymouth's struggle during WW2 and during the post war rebuilding.


    John
     
  2. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    There was a wartime policy decision not to mention the extent of damage in Plymouth as Devonport dockyard was so vital. In terms of damage/population Plymouth was harder hit than any other city in the UK but got the least publicity.

    One consequence of obscuring the dockyard with smoke was to shift bombing into the city. The central modern city shows 2 square miles of post war building that was only completed in the mid 1970's and the surrounding area shows a common scattering of more modern houses erected where prewar ones were destroyed. Now, in the 21st century, a building survey before purchase involves the surveyor checking out possible bomb damage.

    If the dockyard were not obscured then it would have been bombed out of action as it is very obvious from the air even at night, due to the contrast between the water of the Hamoaze, Sound and Plym against the distinctive shape of the land.

    War necessarily involves horrible decision making and the lives of hundreds of civilians were sacrificed to keep the dockyard working. Overall it was probably the right decision but I am so glad I have not had to make such ones.
     
  3. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    You are right yulzari, the Naval base at Devonport was of paramount importance.

    HMS Courageous was there at the outbreak of WW2 albeit sunk 8 days later by a U boat.
    HMS Exeter was visited by Churchill after the River Plate battle
    The giant French Sub Surcorf arrived as well as The 'John Hawkins' full to the brim of Dunkirk soldiers after the fall of France.
    The Sound was used to assemble Merchant shipping into convoys.
    I have seen a photo of HMS Hood sailing from Plymouth. She had 2 months to live.
    There was also the oil storage depots that were a vital commodity both as a target and a resource.

    Sand was in short supply for sandbags and for dousing incendiary bomb fires. This shortage was due to a lack of transport.

    The raids in January 1941 were bad causing damage to the cities electricity power station and a failure in the supply of electricity. The 'All Clear' could not be sounded so people were kept in the shelters for a considerable time.

    King George visited Plymouth in March 1941 to raise morale. After nights in the shelters, little or no drinking water, fears for personal safety, fatigue etc Plymothians needed it.

    The British were unable to jam the German KGr100 X-Gerat equipement radio beams that guided the LW to and from Plymouth.

    The Germans foiled the British sound locator service by de synchronising the planes engines. The LW dropped flares created a gigantic pyrotechnic display as a prelude to the incendiary bomb attacks with the resultant blazes.

    The LW attacked a in crocodile formation not in waves as popular myth would have you believe.

    Gott strafe England.

    I have been studying a bomb census map of Plymouth, mapping the HE bomb 'hits'. Its small surprise that little was left of pre war Plymouth.
    The post war rebuilding took 45 years to complete( I'm not convinced it is finished even now) and I can remember the 'bomb site' car parks and empty spaces.

    Abercrombie was paid to design a city centre that would improve Plymothians life...The Portland stone was modernity and the sweeping visa of Royal Parade to the Hoe was ( and still is impressive) but, the 'soul' of the City of Plymouth was lost...
    It is now recognised that it would have better to have rebuilt Plymouth as other cities were ( eventually) rebuilt and people have belatedly realised the value what we no longer can have.

    Perhaps an image of an incendiary bomb should be incorporated into the City of Plymouth coat of arms to remind future generations how, in the words of H P Twyford' the second world war 'came to the door' of this west country city by the sea.

    John
     
  4. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    Quite so Readie.

    By the way, if you want to know where the wartime city centre went, go to Lipson Vale. They used the rubble to fill in Lipson Creek. A lot more things went in there too an old boy told me when I had an allotment by the Plym. He recalls the Americans dumping lorry loads of munitions in there too and him stealing grenades out of it. Nowadays they have Lipson School and playing fields built on top of it. That might stop them smoking in the toilets......

    Maybe we can contract with the modern Luftwaffe to remove the awful crumbling redundant Civic Centre!
     
  5. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if that is what my great-grandmother (who saw both World Wars) was referring to. She told me as a kid how you could tell the German bombers because the engines sounded like they kept cutting out.
    She also told me I'd painted a he 111 in the wrong colours once (I'd done a watercolour of one in desert scheme) - 'All the ones I saw were Green' she said!


    Interesting read here btw, cheers guys!
    Evan
     
  6. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    HI Evan,
    Thanks.
    The Plymouth Blitz LW bombers were painted black underneath. I'm not sure if LW had a policy of de-synchronising their engines or whether it was a Plymouth blitz only thing.
    John
     
  7. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    That'll stop them ! BOOOOM :lol:

    I find the comparison of pre post war Plymouth fascinating. Luckily for me the wives parents are still alive and can recollect the pre post war period.

    There are a few 'targets' that I would like to see gone, the Civic Centre. the Railway station tower block and the morons who made people sell those lovely terrace houses in Alma Road for a flyover that never was....:rolleyes:

    There is always room for improvement in any town, but I don't think that the post war city centre has been a real success.
    Exeter Bristol blends old and new much better than Plymouth.

    Shame, as I love Plymouth.

    John
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Interesting stuff John, and reminds me of my youth in the North East. I can remember areas of derelict land in Newcastle and Gateshead, which had once been warehouses and offices, which were still like missing and broken teeth in the 50s and 60s, and even into the mid 1970s.
    BTW, the engines were de-synchronised, partly for deception, and partly for economic cruise.
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    My grandmother said you could always tell the German aircraft from their "uneven" sound,presumably meaning de-synchronised.
    She said it sounded like "Where d'ya wannit...Where d'ya wannit....."
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  10. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    'Broken teeth' very apt Terry. That description is perfect. St Andrews church has been left as it was during the blitz as a memorial.
    Plymouth Blitz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    John
     
  11. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    #11 Readie, Apr 13, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
    Our Grandparents are a wonderfull source of stories of the Blitz years and the 'home front' as are our parents who actually fought.

    Cheers
    John
     
  12. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Very true. There are often eye-witness accounts of actions, remembered in detail, which never reach the 'history books'.
    An example, again from the North East, came from my Grandfather on my mother's side, who was too old for military service, and worked as a guard on the railways.
    He described a night raid against factories on the River Tyne (can't remember the date). The main target was the Vicker's armament factory, on the north bank, to the west of Newcastle. But, some of the bombs hit a warehouse, virtually opposite where my mother was then living (south side of river, and Dad was off 'in the war'), which was packed with sugar.
    As it was described, there was a big bang, and a huge blue flash as the sugar ignited, wrecking the whole area, and showering debris over the rail lines. Apparently the fires burned for at least a day.
    I remember the area as a child, in the 50's, and where the warehouse once stood was just an open, large, vacant tract of land, with the remains of the building's foundations.
    Today, from what I saw on my last visit some years back, it has been built on, and is a series of 'up-market' riverside apartments - developed more than sixty years after that particular raid.
     
  13. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    Interesting story. Sugar burns like billio!
    The older members of the family recall post war Plymouth, the disorientation during the war as the material damage mounted, endless nights in the shelters and the struggle to rebuild Plymouth.
    The council provided prefabs were made of corrugated iron and were basic but, better than nothing. It seems hard to imagine now the deprivation and lack of amenities that Plymouth had to deal with.
    There is an undercurrent of bitterness with a generation of older Plymothians... I'm not sure its healthy after all these years but, it is understandable.
    John
     
  14. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    Yes, it's difficult enough to get folk up country to realise Plymouth is an industrial city not a seaside resort never mind the most heavily bombed for it's size. I used to get fed up with companies (and some government departments) telling me they had a south west office - in Bristol... My response was to ask them if their customers would be happy with an office in Manchester as the regional one for London. It take a couple of hours just to reach Plymouth from Penzance and Bristol is 2 more up the road, especially at peak emmett time.
     
  15. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I know that feeling! Slightly off topic - but when I was 'on the road' for a very large multi-national company, with the Head Office in the south, and most of the other facilities too, I used to cover the north and Scotland. An example of similar thinking comes to mind with one 'phone call I received, whilst in Glasgow, on a Friday afternoon, which went something like "Ah, you're in Glasgow. Can you just nip to Aberdeen to sort out a problem before you return home (to near Manchester)" !!!
     
  16. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    Exactly...The 'South West' starts at Swindon I believe.:rolleyes:
    I get the airy request just to 'pop over' to Bristol and then 'pop down; to Redruth...even with the Dobwalls bypass it takes a lifetime in the summer...

    I had to smile at your post Terry, these people have no idea do they?

    John
     

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