Hatfield At War

Junker 88

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.
This page was added on 03/04/2013.

Comments about this page

  • Just to add that the bomb Barbara Martin mentions actually crashed into 2 Selwyn Crescent next to the back gardens on Selwyn Drive. Mrs Knight and her daughter Irene were killed in the blast. I know this because my father (a member of the Home Guard) saw the doodlebug pass within inches of the corner of our house, no 20 Selwyn Crescent, Would be interested to know if Barbara Martin knew my big sister Sheila. The name Pawsey seems to ring a bell. I was born in 1947.

    By Christine Hinderlider (née Boreham) (29/07/2018)
  • I loved reading about my old school, Delfield. I remember Mr. Pomfrey, Miss Marsden, Mrs. Boyle (babies class), and my favourite Mrs. Wolsey. Mr. Cox was the headmaster. Lusty’s sweet shop? Who can forget it. They used to sell day old rolls for either a farthing or a halfpenny, and we would buy them as we walked to school.
    We each had a folding stool to put in the shelters and when there was a threat we would cross the playing field, find our stools and the teacher would tell us to sing loudly. Each student brought a food box to school which was kept in the classroom only to be opened and food consumed if we couldn’t go home during any prolonged raid. These were also taken to the shelters.
    Scary times but fond long lasting memories.

    By Shirley Warburton nee Bacon (07/11/2017)
  • My father, Montague Chapman, known as Mont, was in command of the Bofors gun to the north of the factory. When the alarm was sounded, he & the rest of the gun crew raced into the emplacement & commenced firing. They managed to hit the plane which crashed near East End Green; the crew members were captured by farm workers. My father was presented with the identity plate from the plane which I gave to The Mosquito Museum. 

    By Edward Chapman (02/03/2016)
  • My uncle Robert Bullen was working in the paint shop on that day and responded to the air raid warning by heading towards the shelter.  Part of the way there he realised he’d left his jacket behind and apparently said afterwards that he nearly turned round to go back for it.  Something told him not to and that decision saved his life!

    By Stewart Bullen (19/12/2014)
  • I was bombed out when I was five (now 75). we lived in Selwyn Drive and the bomb dropped at the bottom of our garden.  They were obviously trying to hit de Havilland’s.

     

     

    By Barbara Martin(Pawsey) (07/06/2014)
  • Hello, my Dad, Christopher Joseph Hoy (1915-1985) was a sheet metal worker and worked on the construction of the Mosquito in the Hatfield Factory. He lived in Croxley Green Watford. He worked in workshop 94 and narrowly escaped death by being in the loo when the bombing took place on October 3rd 1940. He was blown through a hole in the wall and had both ear drums burst, but was lucky to survive. He lost many pals that day and often talked about it with sadness. I am putting together a book for the family and would much appreciate any comments from other people who were there that day or from their families. Thanks very much Elizabeth

    By Elizabeth Hoy (25/04/2014)
  • PS does anyone remember Miss Lusty’s sweet shop?

    By Beatrice Orrey (07/04/2014)
  • I also remember underground air raid shelters in the playing field at the back of the Delfield road school. They zig-zagged to stop the blast (I was told). Also I recall the teacher Mr Pomfrey and a Miss Marsden and friends from Delfield Road called Shiela Holland. And June Meach. I also remember Dennis and Billie Ridgewell who lived in Delfield road. Happy times.

    By Beatrice Orrey (07/04/2014)
  • I lived in Hatfield as a child and attended Hatfield County Council school in Delfield Road. I remember the aerodrome being bombed and I seem to recall some workers being machine gunned as they ran to the shelters. It happened about 8.30a m one misty morning.My mother was washing up in our kitchen and she said to my Dad”that one’s low,”when she heard the plane and my Dad looked and replied “it’s a Bloody Gerry” Beatrice Orrey. Aged 81years.

    By Beatrice Orrey (05/04/2014)
  • A quick note – my mother was a wartime bus conductress, often on the 341 between Hertford & St Albans. On one occasion, by what was then the Stonehouse pub, they were strafed by a German plane – no casualties, on the bus at least. is there anything in the records about this? The plane was low, thought to have been on daytime raid/reconnaissance of De Havilland’s and was being chased by the RAF, firing as it fled. Such incidents were not that rare (search `British buses strafed by Germans’ for instance) and fatalities did occur, but much is anecdotal. There is evidence, apparently, of Luftwaffe pilots targeting civilians for fun, obtained by bugging PoWs conversations, but I’ve lost the reference now.

    By Averil Wootton (03/03/2014)
  • My mother, for her war work, was a conductress on London Transport Country Buses, based at St Albans garage. She used to tell of how and her bus (the 341 between St Albans & Hertford) were passing the then Stonehouse pub, by De Havillands, and they were strafed with machine-gun fire from a German plane. She didn’t think there were any casualties. It was reckoned it was a daylight raider doing photo-reconnaissance and it was being chased by the RAF. Has anybody else heard of this incident? Are there any records? Evidence for such attacks is often anecdotal as they were presumably hushed-up to maintain morale. That they were not that unusual has been shown by secret recordings made of Luftwaffe pilots held as PoWs. Unfortunately, I failed to save a relevant news report I saw in the last few years.

    By Averil Wootton (02/03/2014)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *