WWII in real time


American Superfortress bomber has been in design since 1939, aiming for an operational range of 2,667 miles: allowing USA to bomb Nazi Europe if Britain fell to Germans. In theory, B-29 can fly higher (31,850ft) & faster (350mph) than almost any Axis fighter plane. https://t.co/UfWy7SBsda RealTimeWWII photo

The world's largest bomber has made its first test flight: Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" can carry its own weight, 20,000lbs, in bombs. https://t.co/2N7lVhYG0R RealTimeWWII photo

Japanese troops in Papua New Guinea are starving & diseased- 10 die to malaria for every 1 shot by Australians. Supplies must be carried by hand along 60 mile jungle track.

Japanese invaders of Guinea are now just 25 miles off Port Moresby, crucial gateway to north Australia; Aussies are throwing in all available troops.

Andrei Khozyainov, Soviet soldioer in Stalingrad: "Little ammo, no water. Heat, thirst, smoke. We have to piss in the machineguns to keep the barrels cool."

Improvised stronghold in Stalingrad’s grain elevator defies German infantry charges & artillery shelling; the stored corn within has caught fire. https://t.co/gH5yTQdLPl RealTimeWWII photo

Stalingrad's civic monuments have become fortresses- a few dozen Red Army men hold out in the city's concrete grain elevator. https://t.co/mljMURk0ga RealTimeWWII photo

Chuikov: "Most of the divisional commanders didn’t really want to die in Stalingrad. The second something went wrong, they’d start saying: 'Permit me to cross the Volga.' I would yell 'I’m still here' & send a telegram: 'One step back and I’ll shoot you!'"

Chuikov has sited his command post on the west bank of the Volga, close to front line, ferociously enforcing Stalin's order "Not one step back!" & denying his officers permission to retreat.

Red Army General Vasily Chuikov is newly appointed commander of forces in Stalingrad, leading shattered remnants of two Soviet Armies: "I understand my orders just fine... I’ll either keep them out of Stalingrad or die trying." https://t.co/zLDpIXjdAm RealTimeWWII photo

Volga River is now a killing ground for Luftwaffe bombers- Red Army troops cross on slow, defenceless ferries, even rowboats, through a gauntlet of falling shells & strafing bullets. https://t.co/fyhYsmjSMC RealTimeWWII photo

Battle for the centre of Stalingrad is still raging- Soviets are hurling troops into city, trying to keep their fragile grip on the west bank of river Volga. https://t.co/KMPyLOBfFi RealTimeWWII photo

German "Laconia Order" tells submariners: "Stay hard! The enemy doesn't save women & children when bombing our towns". https://t.co/sgdorbz22b

German Grand Admiral Dönitz, shocked by American bombing of U-boats carrying Allied survivors, orders submarine captains to abandon torpedoed ships, rather than try to rescue or give supplies.

As American bombs & bullets rip into survivors cowering on exposed deck, German U-boats are forced to crash-dive, fleeing US attack- leaving hundreds shipwrecked from Laconia adrift in Atlantic. https://t.co/VUxaLy5NuC RealTimeWWII photo

An American B-24 "Liberator" bomber spots two German submarines on a rescue mission, their decks crammed with British & Italian survivors of wrecked ship. Under radio orders, the US plane attacks the U-boats. https://t.co/EFeP8GPLjY RealTimeWWII photo

Immediately after sinking the Allied ship, German submarine U-156 scrambles to save Laconia's survivors, loading hundreds onto the U-boat's foredeck & radioing nearby Axis ships for a rescue mission. https://t.co/FzAEdwqwLS RealTimeWWII photo

A German U-boat has torpedoed & sunk British troopship RMS Laconia in the Atlantic, with over 2500 people onboard- 1793 of them are Italian prisoners of war. https://t.co/PkUcYhSz9C RealTimeWWII photo

An attempted Allied amphibious assault on Libya has ended in disaster: 750 British, New Zealand & Rhodesian soldiers dead or captured in North Africa after trying to land at Axis ports of Benghazi & Tobruk.

Stalingrad: In last 24 hours, Red Army have suffered 30% casualties in desperate counterattacks to try & keep German forces from reaching the River Volga.

News

Latest News!!

It is with much regret Bunker 13 must announce a breakdown in communication between The Central Grange resident’s management company (The Kenton Management Company) and their chosen residential management agents Brannen & Partners who manage the development on their behalf. This has led to Bunker 13 being locked out of the bunker simply due to their total refusal to communicate with us. Totally unnecessary when a simple meeting could have solved all alleged health and safety issues and we could have moved forward working together.

As a result of being prevented access moving forward, we were forced to remove our dehumidifiers from the bunker which were preventing further damage to the original fixtures and fittings also consequently our internal caretaking work has stopped. This is of EXTREME concern as the flood prevention pumps within the bunker that were fitted after the catastrophic flooding of approx. 7 years ago, now require urgent attention. The most important pump failed last week just prior to us being locked out. The emergency battery backup system is also not functioning for these pumps.

The last flooding of the bunker happened when the previous management company took the same action preventing us from monitoring internal conditions within the bunker. Let us hope for the sake of the bunkers historic original interior this doesn’t happen again but also for the residents of Central Grange who are responsible for footing the bill for pumping out the building and costly repairs to a Grade 2 historic building. The last pumping out was carried out F.O.C by T&W Fire service but they stated they would not be able to do it again for free. The costs at that time would have been approx. £400 per fire tender per hour and we had 8 tenders on site for a period and at least 4 tenders all day.

Rest assured we are doing all we can to regain access to the bunker and continue our preservation work however this is a serious setback that has far reaching implications to our ability to continue with funding applications potentially halting the whole preservation process.

To any residents of CENTRAL GRANGE reading this we will keep you informed about A NEW RESIDENTS group being formed. We have heard many of you are not happy with the management company not listening to your concerns and issues we have found this ourselves please support the new group. This new group will make sure your voice is heard.

Support Letter for Bunker 13

Generous Donation

Last week the nice people at https://www.cleva-uk.com/ donated a wet and dry vac and some air movers to the bunker. I popped in over the weekend and assembled said vacuum. It appears to be a quality piece of kit so a vacuuming session was called for. Did a load of the floor in the front stairs really quickly and the results were impressive. Then I decided to try it on some of the plasterboard walls that were covered in dried up mould. The results again were extremely impressive with almost no trace left behind.
Tried the mould round the plotting room viewing gallery windows, but, due to the angle I was trying to vac at and the matt black paint the results were slightly less impressive but still good.
Decided to deploy the air movers as well to help the dehumidifiers and once again the results are impressive for such compact units. So if your looking for Quality Vacuums and air movers checkout www.cleva-uk.com

Following a recent break-in we decided to re-fit and lock some internal doors – the pictures below show the restoration of the first of them. It was in a pretty sorry state, lots of the internal layers of the door had fallen out  – but they were all still present and not rotten. The plywood skin is beyond help and was replaced where needed. It was decided to paint the door in it’s original blue colour prior to refitting. We used a paint matching service to re-produce the proper colour and it should look really good.

Blue Door

Blue Door

Leaky investigations

Looks like we found the culprit for the leak in the roof of the back stairs – that sycamore sapling in the centre of the picture. Was quite a complex measuring exercise and we were already pretty sure that it was this tree but it was within 6 inches of the measured position of the damp roof. We’ll have to dig it up and repair the tanking sometime but for now we’ll leave it as is as it’s not leaking too much – the bucket is coping well.

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 Down the Drain

Had a quick look at the furniture in the battery room today and found that the cupboard is George 6th stamped and came via somewhere in Cramlington. The long bench has a fairly large cable attached to the back – can’t work out what it was for. And finally we decided to find out why the wash basin in the guardhouse didn’t drain – dug out the drain outside (was full of mud) and it now drains very well. Need to get a proper cover for it although the bit of brick and cast iron drainpipe will do for now.
Removed loads of mud from other pipes too while we had the manhole cover off.

Mention in Parliament

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There was indeed a temporary Hostel in Cramlington and it was mentioned in a parliamentary debate on 6/12/1945

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Light Update

Some further research has revealed that the light is by Coughtrie and is still available – and thanks to a donation from the team at Pitch Black Investigations we’ll be able to purchase one soon. Probably leave it until after Christmas when the post has calmed down a bit though.

See here for details.

Coughtrie lighting

Fun with Louvres

Darren has made a new louvre to replace a missing one on the main extract vent. Currently has a steel plate fitted which looks terrible – the new vent, whilst obviously new, looks miles better and once weathered a little will be even better.

More light please.

Missing Holophane light

Missing Holophane light

If anyone has seen an exterior light fitting that looks like this one (but perhaps a bit shinier) then we’d like to have it as someone has nicked ours.

400 Watt Holophane Ceiling Light

A quick look inside one of the 400 watt ceiling lights. 4 x 100 watt bulbs, property of HM Government. Frosted glass diffuser and textured glass on the sides. Would really like to see these lit up!

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Plant room pics

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Some pics of the plant room with different lighting, taken during lunch break.

Sticking Door part 2

Started sticking the bottom end of the door back together after the top end turned out pretty well.

Also found another pair of hinges with no door attached. Top one till has the screws in, hammered flat – presumably whoever removed the door didn’t know how to release the spring in the hinge so they could just pull the screws out. Now I’ve got to work out how to remove them without damaging the hinge. The bottom, damping, hinge was below the flood level and is corroded – will take some work to re-furbish it – the oil in it appears to be in a very poor state and could be difficult to clean out – there’s been water in there too so it may be beyond saving.

When the corroded hinge above was removed it was evident that the rebate was packed with something – turns out it was part of the original instruction leaflet for the hinges.

Probably been there since 1938!!

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Elsewhere in the bunker there are some doors which have been replaced with modern ones and modern hinges. They don’t even fit properly and no-one bothered to fit handles either. I can’t see any reason why this was done – the fantastic Comet hinges appear to have been thrown away too.

Hinge Update

The pair of hinges in the picture below turned out to be in much better condition than they first appeared to be. The “damping” hinge works perfectly, getting stiffer as the screw on the top is screwed in and the spring one rotates well, just needs winding up after re-fitting.

More fun with hinges and doors

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Here’s the door being stuck back together – the Strongly sprung hinge had pulled the rear edge of the door away from the rest at the top and the action of the door being pivoted round the seized lower hinge as done the same at the bottom. Didn’t have enough clamps to do both ends at once though. Also forgot cloths to wipe excess glue off – hopefully I’ll be able to sand it off later!

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It turns out that the hinges work as a pair, one providing strong spring closing action and the other providing hydraulic damping so it closes smoothly and slowly. This is the hinge that tends to seize – it’s the one with the screw sticking out of the top which is used to adjust the damping.

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Here’s the door frame that the door attaches to – not in too bad condition given that the next one is missing presumed rotted away and the one after that has also seen better days!

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Thanks to Dave Woodhouse for the photo’s

 

Becoming Unhinged and looking North!

Dropped in to the bunker today for a spot of BBC filming (should be going out on 9th November).

See the results of the filming here

Took a little time out to try and find out why one of the self closing doors wasn’t self closing.  Turns out one of the Oil Damped spring hinges was seized, causing the door to start coming apart due to the strong spring action of the other hinge which wasn’t seized. Removed Seized hinge and started dismantling it – much plus gas and heat got most of the screws out but there’s still one stuck in there – which appears to be preventing it coming apart.

(Un) Bending Time

Decided to have a go at unbending the trashed clock from the post below.

Decided to use the ball pein hammers for a spot of light panel beating and the results are “interesting”. The face is not too bad although the brushed effect is damaged. The outer casing is curved in 2 dimensions and is quite reluctant to go back to it’s original shape. Ideally a new casing would be needed but heaven knows where one would be obtained.

Much to my surprise after a small spring adjustment the mechanism still works perfectly – the last picture shows the current state of the panel beating – shame it was vandalised in the first place.

The only remaining task is to somehow extract the two sheared screws from the front of the mechanism so new ones can screw the whole thing back together.

Making Light of the Situation

Visited the bunker yesterday (maintenance on Sump Pump backup power supplies) and had time for a look at some of the lights in the plotting room. They are Holophane lights and have two 100watt bulbs in each (marked Property of H.M. Government) except for some of the High up ones which have four.

That totals up to over 4000watts of lighting in there!! Miraculously they’re all complete except for two missing side panels (easily replaceable) and one pressed glass diffuser panel (probably very difficult to replace).  There are patent numbers and a design number on the pressed glass panel so hopefully I’ll be able to find out more about the lights. (age etc.) It seems that Holophane still exist so will contact them to see if they can help.

The last light is from one of the smaller corridors – haven’t had time to look at this more closely yet but looks like a two bulber as well.

"Art Deco" light in upstairs corridor. (possibly Holophane)

“Art Deco” light in upstairs corridor. (possibly Holophane)

Also another two slave clocks came to light, one sadly trashed probably beyond repair. The mechanism rotates freely on the face it’s supposed to be screwed to and the rear cover is missing. It may turn up as the bunker has quite a knack for hiding things in plain sight.

 

Water problems again

just back from a call-out to the bunker following reports of it being flooded – luckily it wasn’t, just the recently fitted sump pumps doing their jobs. The recent repair to prevent the water ingress, however is doing less well and looks destined to fail in the near future.

Recent repairs not doing too well!

Recent repairs not doing too well!

Also took the time to re-fit the repaired lock to the front door (thanks to Harrison & Son Ltd of Low Fell) and recovered a fourth clock, also in very good condition.

Saving Time

After the war when the bunker was converted for cold war use a synchronome master/slave clock system was installed – sadly most of this has been lost but three slave clocks, in varying states, have been recovered. Two of these are in very good condition and with the addition of a simple circuit from Maplin work well. The third clock had a very bent casing and bent face – the face has been straightened but the aluminium casing is proving harder to repair. (still works though)

Synchronome Slave Clock as found.

Synchronome Slave Clock as found.


The Bent Clock

The Bent Clock

The addition of a laser printed Sector Clock (type II) face to the rear of the original face gives a nice WWII effect. Note the circuit board which provides the 1.5V pulse every 30 seconds to make the clock work.

Laser printed Sector clock face added

Laser printed Sector clock face added


Type I sector clock face added to bent clock

Type I sector clock face added to bent clock

Mock up of plotting table in-situ

What the plotting table should look like from the observation gallery

What the plotting table should look like from the observation gallery

Plotting Table finally repatriated.

We finally got round to recovering the plotting table from it’s temporary home at the North East Air Museum – Thanks to them for looking after it.

 

The plotting table - assembled

The plotting table – assembled. 5.04m X 4.64Mm

Repairs to prevent water ingress.

Contractors working in the bunker have finally made it watertight after months of leaks and flooding. Water was leaking into the cable pulling chamber under the stairs to the back door. A plate, sealed with the same foam as the channel tunnel has been fitted and sump pumps installed in case the plate and foam don’t work.

Searching for the “Cypher Room”

Bunker 13 have started the complex process of locating the cypher room. We think it’s somewhere under Blakelaw Park.

We’re hoping to have a look at some areas of interest using Ground Penetrating Radar.

We’ll be talking to some people who worked in the cypher room and hoping to glean some clues as to it’s whereabouts.

Audio Walk Listening Posts

Bunker 13 wish to make it known that, along with a sizeable number of Central Grange residents, we object to the Audio walk and siting of the listening posts.

Operational Record Book Purchase Plan

We are hoping to raise at least £750 to purchase a copy of the ORB (Operational Records Book) for the former 13 Group Fighter Command Headquarters.

This is an important source of information to us that tells us exactly who and what was going on on a day to day basis. It would also show combat records for the 15th August 1940, 13 Group’s hardest day, also known as ‘Black Thursday’.
If anyone would like to donate anything please press the DONATE button on our home page. Any donation, no matter how small it may be is greatly appreciated.
Bunker13 would like to thank Mr James Mitchell of ‘Scotland’s Secret Bunker‘ in Fife for his very kind donation of £250.

From One Service to Another

Bunker Thirteen would like to extend the hand of gratitude to the Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service for their invaluable assistance at the Fighter Command Headquarters on Wednesday 20th July 2011.
Possibly due to recent heavy rainfall, an influx of water flooded the bunker , threatening to cause further damage.
Within a moments of a phone call to the Fire Service, White Watch crew from Gosforth were on site, pumping water out.

Other crews attended from as far away as Hebburn; distance no object as the crews went about their business with dedication, regardless of the constant downpour that was soaking everyone.
Local resident Tara Todd supplied coffee and smiles as the constant flow of water was pumped out of a void under the rear stairs that once held huge cables from the wartime masts. As one Fire Crew went off for a lunch break, it was replaced by another without complaint.

Volunteer directors John and Michael were overwhelmed by the dedication of the fire crews and as a way of thanks, crews were invited to the Fighter Command’s Commemoration on the 15th August 2011 6.30pm. The men were only too happy to accept.
Thanks are also due to Chemtech Environmental (Consett) for testing the water sample taken from the bunker http://www.chemtech-env.co.uk.

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 Plotting Table Recovery Plan

Members of the group are (still) hoping to retrieve the plotting table from it’s current home, at the North East Air Museum, next week. Unfortunately it will have to go into storage for the moment until we can get it restored and returned to it’s home, the plotting room at Bunker 13

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Thanks to Nick Catford of Sub Brit for the Photo.

Bunker 13

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