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’.

Commerations at the North East Land, Sea and Air Museum at the former RAF Usworth, on Saturday, to mark the 80th anniversary of the large air raid by German bombers over the North East on August 15th 1940.
Commerations at the North East Land, Sea and Air Museum at the former RAF Usworth, on Saturday, to mark the 80th anniversary of the large air raid by German bombers over the North East on August 15th 1940.
Commerations at the North East Land, Sea and Air Museum at the former RAF Usworth, on Saturday, to mark the 80th anniversary of the large air raid by German bombers over the North East on August 15th 1940.

But the onslaught was thwarted on by young RAF airmen.

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Five sections of the 607 (County of Durham) squadron were scrambled from their base in Usworth to intercept German bombers.

Flight Lieutenant Francis Blackadder (centre) with other pilots and ground crew leaning against one of the Squadrons Hawker Hurricane fighters.
Flight Lieutenant Francis Blackadder (centre) with other pilots and ground crew leaning against one of the Squadrons Hawker Hurricane fighters.
Flight Lieutenant Francis Blackadder (centre) with other pilots and ground crew leaning against one of the Squadrons Hawker Hurricane fighters.

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.

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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.

l-r daughters Joanna Trevelyan and Libby Smythe, Stuart Blackadder grandson, Museum Chairman David Charles and Richard Appleby former President of Northern Rugby Club, who Francis Blackadder played for
l-r daughters Joanna Trevelyan and Libby Smythe, Stuart Blackadder grandson, Museum Chairman David Charles and Richard Appleby former President of Northern Rugby Club, who Francis Blackadder played for
l-r daughters Joanna Trevelyan and Libby Smythe, Stuart Blackadder grandson, Museum Chairman David Charles and Richard Appleby former President of Northern Rugby Club, who Francis Blackadder played for

The tributes included four wreaths being placed and a short service paying tribute to the men who defended our region 80 years ago.

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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.

Museum Chairman David Charles with  Rosemary Parrott, whose father flew with 607 Squadron in 1940, with a copy of the Daily Sketch dated March 4th 1940 which featured the Squadron, then serving in France.
Museum Chairman David Charles with  Rosemary Parrott, whose father flew with 607 Squadron in 1940, with a copy of the Daily Sketch dated March 4th 1940 which featured the Squadron, then serving in France.
Museum Chairman David Charles with Rosemary Parrott, whose father flew with 607 Squadron in 1940, with a copy of the Daily Sketch dated March 4th 1940 which featured the Squadron, then serving in France.
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