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Peter Dixon - Stories of the War

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:09 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Peter's father told him that on the 5th of September, 1940 he saw searchlights illuminate an aircraft over Sunderland it was then hit by anti-aircraft fire and the plane fell to the ground. Two German airmen managed to bail out but were too low for parachutes.

Peter's father saw a German aircraft being chased by a British Beaufighter aircraft. The German bomber Junkers 88 jettisoned its bomb load at Marsden Street South Shields which caused substantial damage (24/05/1943). Peter had an Aunty who lived there and "when the bombs came down it blew all the windows out and the ceiling came down, she had just had a young baby and the ceiling came down on top where the baby's cot was and the baby was blinded for the rest of his life with the lime off the ceiling, the plaster."

Peter has a postcard his father bought which was an exact replica of a Heinkel 111 he saw: "I bought this postcard because that's exactly what I saw. The angle and everything, the size of it, it was very, very low"¦ one engine burning and you see a guy looking at the button". "A few seconds later, the sky lit up with a big glow and it went down". Years later Peter and his friends found remnants of the plane near Marsden Beach.

Peter's grandfather was in the ARP and saw an aircraft come down near South Shields Harbour. He also told Peter that on their radio they often heard Lord Haw-Haw and he would often claim that certain ships were sunk, whereas in fact, they were still in the River Tyne they could see them.

Peter's grandfather used to: "Tune into Cullercoats Radio and they could hear an awful lot of swearing going on because a German submarine had surfaced in the place where they were forming the convoy and people were saying; Are you blind? Are you blind? Look, it's over there!"

Peter's grandfather was on ARP duty on the infamous night South Shields Market was bombed on 2nd October 1941 and "that he was really, really upset by what the sights that he saw because they knew they were pulling bodies out."

In this same air raid, Peter's grandfather, picked up a metal plate which was the back of one of the bomb victims watch. "The poor fellow had been caught in the blast and the blast had hit him so hard, all of the cog wheels and everything is embossed in the back of the plate on the back of his watch."

Audio and transcription are attached.

History

Item list and details

Photos of the back of a watch picked up in South Shields Market which because of the intensity of the bomb blast the watch gears are embossed into the watch back cover.

Person the story/items relate to

Peter Dixon and his family

Person who shared the story/items

Peter Dixon

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

His father, grandparents and aunty

Type of submission

Shared at Ocean Road Community Centre, Tyne and Wear on 18 November 2023. The event was organised by South Shields Local History Group.

Record ID

94051 | SSH012