The Netmaker

"The Netmaker" the story follows four families who are all linked in some way to the Wilkinsons Lemonade Factory that was bombed during WW2. This is a tribute to the 107 people who lost their lives on 3rd May 1941

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One of the crew shouted that they had missed the target but Rudel told them to be quiet and to let the others try.’

The sky was illuminated by the fire from Osbecks Wood Yard and the ack ack guns from Tynemouth began to fire upon the aircraft as they made another pass.

At 11.58 p.m. there was a dull thud heard and someone shouted “They’ve hit the factory.’ “The bloody pop factory’s gone up.’

That night the warden had counted in 192 people sought the shelter from the German bombing raid. Whole families, young children, all huddled together.’

Tilly Mills who was riding her bicycle nearby jumped off her bike and jumped behind a nearby fence. The fire service from Tynemouth and Newcastle was attending fires all along the coast.

In less than five minutes the bombs had destroyed many factories and houses.

People were running towards the Wilkinson’s lemonade factory or what was now left of it. Men ran up from the nearby pubs threw their coats on the ground and began pulling large pieces of debris away searching for survivors. They could hear the screams of women and children from below them but the enormity of the task was all apparent. The emergency services were quickly on the scene and a fleet of ambulances stood in line waiting to ferry the injured to hospital.

There was a danger from collapse of walls so everyone had to be careful before moving anything but the men from Shields  threw caution to the wind and were digging with their bare hands to try and get people who were trapped below out.

 

Down below they had all been listening to the sound of an accordion when the bomb hit. There was total confusion and panic as family members crawled around in the darkness and smoke searching for their children. Water and sulphuric acid had leaked from the tanks above them and had landed on top of many and their skin was burning with it. No one knew how many people had been killed. There were bodies lying under rubble buried on the bunks they had been sitting on. The smell of burning flesh was in the air as the survivors waited to be rescued. Some tried to find a way out as they could hear some one blowing a whistle from above. They shouted back “In here we are here.’ One young boy walked out of the smoke filled building then walked home and told his parents. The ARP men (Air Raid Precaution) shone torches and called out searching for survivors. Arp women trained in first aid saw to the injured.

The broken walls and mangled girders made it difficult for the rescuers to get survivors out and they worked tirelessly throughout the night along with many locals.

Fifteen hours later and the reality of what had happened hit home as whole families had been killed in the bombing. Many were traumatised by what they witnessed and had to spend several weeks off work. “One man said that he would never forget what happened that night and the nightmares he suffered as a result.’

 

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