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."

News Letter

Highs and Lows of 2010

A bad winter in 2009 saw the bunker suffering an influx of water which threatened the Operations Room floor, the only wooden floor in the whole complex. Luckily contractors were quick enough to dry the bunker out. November/December of 2010 saw an abundance of heavy snow and with access to the bunker off limits to everyone; it is unknown what lies within. guardhouse

The early part of 2010 started slowly for Bunker Thirteen as we had expected. We have now become used to such periods of little or no activity, but in the meantime members of Bunker Thirteen continued to drum up support and locate existing veterans who served in 13 Group Headquarters.
A boost to our list of supporters came from the Newcastle branch of the Royal Air Force Association and we had some interest in our project from 617 Squadron.
Bunker Thirteen became close associates of Blyth Battery Volunteers who invited us back to their events on a regular basis.
May 2011 will see Bunker Thirteen back at Blyth and also back to our biggest supporter’s event for the second year running. Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington Air Field has supported Bunker Thirteen since day one, back in 2008 when we first started out and Ian Reed and his staff still continue to do so.

2010 saw Bunker Thirteen’s first appearance at Yorkshire Air Museum followed closely by Blyth Battery. It was also our first attempt at fund raising, which started slowly but as we met more and more people, the fund raising improved.

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Invites emerged from various sources such as the Old Hartley Heritage Fair, Shiremoor Library and Blyth Social Club, where we spoke to local History groups and gathered a generous following. When Bunker Thirteen wasn’t attending events, negotiations and meetings were on going with Taylor Wimpy as to the future of the Bunker. The local residents also expressed an interest in the future of the bunker and how it would benefit them.
2010 also saw Bunker Thirteen on a fact finding mission to the 11 Group bunker at RAF Uxbridge. Also attending were the owners of the 1940’s UK Radio, Shaun & Lynda Moncaster. Video and audio recordings were made around the Battle of Britain Ops Room as well as with WAAF Rita Spence.

 

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September saw the bunker receiving its first recognition in the way of a Remembrance Service conducted by Rev. Ronald Black. 617 Squadron were going to attend. They asked us if we would want a fly-past but 617 were told it wasn’t worth their while as the service was only to last fifteen minutes. However they did say that they would try and make it next time, if and when we erect a memorial stone to 13 Group Fighter Command. The Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne attended the service along with veterans from the Royal Air Force Association. Bunker Thirteen’s own two WAAFs, Rita Spence and Catherine (Kitty) Brightwell also attended and were given the honour of laying the wreath. Radio Newcastle attended during the afternoon and interviewed members of Bunker Thirteen, journalists and photographers from Newcastle’s Evening Chronicle attended the service.
A contingent from 733 Squadron (Newcastle Airport) Sqn formed the guard of Honour, led by Warrant Officer Phil Greenwood.

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2010 also saw the return of WAAF Rita Spence to the former 13 Group Fighter Command Headquarters after she left in 1943 on another posting. She was joined by her daughter Judith and son in law John, along with representatives from Taylor Wimpy and their management company. Rita visited areas inside the headquarters that she would have never been allowed to see during her time there. She spoke briefly about her time in the headquarters and said that it was a privilege to return.
Plans were in progress for a top producer from the BBC to make a documentary with Rita and fellow WAAF Kitty Brightwell inside of the headquarters but alas, tragedy struck. Rita had to have an operation and sadly, she passed away leaving a huge sense of loss, both for her family and for Bunker Thirteen.
Her funeral was held at a Crematorium in South Shields, attended by her family and representatives from the Newcastle Branch of the WAAFs Association and Bunker Thirteen. Her coffin was draped in a Union Jack.
Nearing the end of 2010 saw yet another slow period with no activity at all but still, behind the scenes, support for the bunker project was looked for.
Out of the blue, one person emerged that was quite enthusiastic about the bunker project. The only professional, female band leader in the UK, with a massive following, Debbie Curtis was only too keen to lend her support and to help in any way that she could. John from Bunker Thirteen continues to converse with her on a regular basis and mentioned that Bunker Thirteen would like to involve a celebrity as a patron but the search had been fruitless so far. Debbie had said that she may help on that score but so far nothing has happened yet – but confidence is high. bandleader

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