Hatfield At War
By Marc Lyons
WAR ON HATFIELD’S DOORSTEP
The first Bomb to be dropped in the Hatfield District was recorded at Cuffley on 28th August 1940; fortunately there were no recorded fatalities. In September of the same year, another three bombs were dropped by Axis’ aircrafts at Hawkshead house near the Barnet by-pass south of Hatfield. The threat that the Second World War posed, was quickly becoming apparent to the citizens of Hatfield, with four bombs over the previous two months being dropped in such a close proximity.
WAR KNOCKING AT THE DOOR
On the morning of the 3rd October 1940, during the closing month of the Battle of Britain, a Junker 88 dropped its bomb on the De Havilland Factory, stationed in the centre of Hatfield. Eyewitness sources collected by the University of Hertfordshire, suggest it was seen at a very low level and for that reason was assumed to be British; and for that reason was no fired upon before it opened its attack. As the aircraft returned, it was fired at and hit by the Light Anti-aircraft battery stationed at the Aerodrome. Having dropped its bombs, the Junker 88 proceeded to fly away, flames trailing from its starboard engine. The aircraft crash landed in flames at East End Green Farm, near Cole Green. And the 4 members of the Aircraft who had managed to survive the crash were arrested; the pilot Siegward Fiebig, and his three crew members Erich Goebel, H Ruthof and K Seifert. Two were sent to Hertford Police Station and the following two were taken to Hatfield Police Station. 21 workers sadly lost their lives that day, along with 70 recorded causalities, who were sent to the Military hospital stationed at Hatfield House.
IMPORTANCE OF HATFIELD TO THE WAR EFFORT
One very important thing that must be remembered is that the prototype Mosquito (DH98) was in development in the Hatfield Aerodrome and from the 25th November 1940, the Hatfield workforce worked hard to build it. Later the story of the Mosquito would become one of the greatest success stories of the War and is still viewed with pride by local residents.
Sources Used: ·
- Alexander Mckee, The Mosquito Log (Souvenir Press, 1988).
- Peter Kingsford, The Labour Movement in Hatfield 1918-1970, 1988.
- J. D Sainsbury, Hertfordshire’s Soldiers, (Hertfordshire Local History Council, 1969).
- Brian G Lawrence, Hatfield at War, (St Albans, 1995), pp. 53-8.