WWII in real time


Vast, thundering crash as HMS Campbeltown explodes, smashing St. Nazaire's huge dock to rubble & killing 360 Germans inspecting the wreck.

Germans wonder why their captives so cheerful; "Are the British so stupid they think so huge a dock could be put out of action by a flimsy destroyer?" https://t.co/y7lJRbUJ3V RealTimeWWII photo

Destroyer HMS Campbeltown is lodged in the gates of St. Nazaire's dock- Germans don't know that there are 4.5 tons of explosives, on a timed detonator, hidden under a steel & concrete barrier in her hull: https://t.co/BpsigM9M1G RealTimeWWII photo

British raid on St. Nazaire has ended in apparent failure: 215 commandos captured, 169 dead, with little damage to vital German-occupied port. https://t.co/k1DJdKTYsT RealTimeWWII photo

Surrounded, out of ammo, no hope of rescue, 100 British commandos in St. Nazaire are ordered to scatter & try to escape to Spain, through 400 miles of German-occupied France.

As British demolition teams wreak havoc among the harbour installations, trying to disable port, commandos are desperately trying to hold back St. Nazaire's German garrison- they're outnumbered 8-1. https://t.co/iDmulRlD3X RealTimeWWII photo

British seaman Thomas O'Leary: "One commando was remarking how pretty the tracer fire, red & green, was. A moment later one blew the back of his head out. I was down below with my tin hat." https://t.co/riZZ4Hh8Wx RealTimeWWII photo

In St. Nazaire, most of the commandos' fragile evacuation boats have been wrecked by German fire- British raiders now stranded in enemy-occupied France. https://t.co/uVLpFMylta RealTimeWWII photo

Under a storm of coastal artillery fire, destroyer HMS Campbeltown dashes into port, crunching on the target dock- British commandos are pouring ashore. https://t.co/Jt4paiW3nu RealTimeWWII photo

British force raiding St. Nazaire are disguised as German warships, broadcasting captured Kriegsmarine radio codes- but RAF bombing, intended to aid raiders, has put German defenders on guard. They're opening fire: https://t.co/3hb28mHfth https://t.co/Qm4kGoGPTF RealTimeWWII photo

As Nazi extermination camps begin operation in occupied Poland, Goebbels notes: "The Jews are now being pushed out… to the East. A pretty barbaric procedure is being applied here… 60% of them must be liquidated, 40% can be put to work."

At least five Australians have volunteered to serve as "human explosives", piloting planes or boats loaded with bombs to crash into Japanese warships. The Australian government has declined these offers. https://t.co/wpDrowpMBs RealTimeWWII photo

384 British commandos, in 16 small ships, plan to disembark during the naval raid on St. Nazaire & blow up German military targets. https://t.co/luGBCzneaY RealTimeWWII photo

British commandos are launching "Operation Chariot": a raid to destroy the huge Normandie dry dock at St. Nazaire. Obsolete US destroyer HMS Campbeltown has been packed with 4.5 tons of TNT, ready to ram dock gates, then explode. https://t.co/vjy3wS2lCE RealTimeWWII photo

3 British destroyers & 16 small boats have sailed from Falmouth, on a secret commando mission to sabotage the occupied French port of St. Nazaire.

Slovakian police arresting Jews are aided by the Hlinka Guard, a volunteer Fascist militia, who have fun with humiliating their prisoners: https://t.co/nmBu7524le RealTimeWWII photo

German-allied Slovakia has begun to round up its Jewish citizens; Jews are being sent to prison camps, ready to be deported & handed over to Nazi SS.

The first shipments of women have arrived at Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland: two trains, of 999 Jewish Slovakians destined for slave labour, & 999 female German criminals to act as "kapo" slave-drivers.

Americans are being urged to buy "Victory Bonds", to fund US government in time of national emergency. US citizens help support huge spending on war effort by lending money to Treasury. https://t.co/JXXdG36LEI RealTimeWWII photo

"One woman, utterly desperate, said that when her husband fainted from starvation, she hacked off part of his leg to feed herself & the children."

History

The bunker was built in 1938 – 1939 at what was Kenton Quarry, and under the Dowding System of air defence became the headquarters of No 13 Group Fighter Command, which stretched from Humberside to The north of Scotland, including Northern Ireland.

Commanded by Air Vice-Marshal Richard Saul, the bunker was a typical MOD design of the time, with everything centred around a two storey high operations room complete with curved glass observation posts above a plotting table. There was also a plant room that enabled the circulating air to be filtered, and indeed the ventilation system is still intact.

The bunkers’ day in history came on the 15th August 1940 when around midday the controller sitting high above the plotting table realised that the north east coast was under attack by a cavalcade of German fighter bombers from Luftflotte 5. Scrambling fighters from sector airfields around the North east and further afield, the Germans were sufficiently repulsed and never mounted a daylight attack again over the north east.

Around the end of 1940, bunkers known as Group Filter Rooms were built near each Group HQ bunker to filter out the important information. So the site at Kenton Bar had a sister bunker built (of different layout) at what are now the Blakelaw flats just off Blakelaw Road. The Filter bunker  housed the local Sea Cadets and was thought for many years to be the 13 Group HQ. It is now mothballed and the entrances sealed

When the decision was taken to build the filter bunker, the area that 13 Group covered was reduced, and No 14 Group was formed at Inverness to cover the area north of Montrose. In 1943, the bunker was decommissioned as 13 Group HQ, with No 12 Group taking over responsibility for the area. For the rest of the war it was used for teleprinter and communications work.

uk map with groups1

After the famous Yalta Conference (attended by Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt) in February 1945, the political and geographic map of Europe was changed considerably. The Cold War had begun.

The bunker was used for civil defence meetings at this time in case of Nuclear attack, though I doubt that it would have protected the occupants completely.

The Department of Social Security buildings were built in 1948-49 and Demolished in 2005. They have been replaced by a housing estate.

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