RAF heroes honoured on 80th anniversary of 'Black Thursday'
Tributes have been paid to RAF heroes who defended against one of the biggest German air attacks of the Second World War, on the 80th anniversary of what became known as ‘Black Thursday’.
On August 15 1940, Heinkel 111 bombers and Me. Bf. 110 fighter bombers left their airfield in Stavanger, Norway, with the intention of bombing RAF fighter airfields in the North East of England and the docklands of the Tyne and Wear, Seaham, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.
But the onslaught was thwarted on by young RAF airmen.
Five sections of the 607 (County of Durham) squadron were scrambled from their base in Usworth to intercept German bombers.
As part of a wider defence of the region, the German force was attacked off the Northumberland Coast by RAF squadrons from Drem and Acklington, while the 607 squadron defended the skies of Sunderland.
Flying in Hawker Hurricanes, the 607 squadron were responsible for the destruction of eight German bombers, suffering no losses themselves.
The British defence was able to down 75 of the 141 German aircraft that attacked the North East coast, resulting in one of the heaviest German losses of the Battle of Britain.
Now, 80 years later the 607 squadron has been honoured at the North East Land, Sea and Air Museum, which was built on the site of the former RAF Usworth base where the squadron were situated.
The tributes included four wreaths being placed and a short service paying tribute to the men who defended our region 80 years ago.
David Chalres, Chair at NELSAM, said: “In these difficult times it is important to remember the efforts made 80 years ago by the pilots from RAF Usworth, many of whom were raised in the region.”
Guests at the ceremony included Susan Winfield OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Cllr David Snowdon, Mayor of Sunderland, Wing Commander Shuttleworth, Officer Commanding 607 Squadron, RAF Leeming and Flt Lt David Walmsley, Royal Air Force Cadets.
The family of two squadron 607 fighter pilots, Flt Francis Blackadder, who led the squadron on the day of the attack and Flt Lt George Dudley Craig were also in attendance to pay tribute.