SKELTON - IN - CLEVELAND
IN HISTORY

1941 ~ 1943

German Blitz of Britain.

1941 Women were called up at home to take over what had been men's jobs.

22nd January - Tobruk in N Africa fell to the British Army.

11th February - British attacked Italian Somaliland.

March - Between this time and November half a million home shelters were issued for free.
Named Morrison after the Home Secretary, they were steel boxes with wire mesh sides, consisting of 219 parts in all.
They were roughly 7 x 4 feet and under 3 feet high.
They could be used as a table by day and when the air raid siren went off the family could crawl in one of the sides.
They were intended for up to 3 people, but one Skelton resident of the time remembers:-

"We had a mattress in there and after we'd climbed in the family next door came round and there we were, eight or nine of us, all laid like bloody sardines in a can."

The Drill Hall Skelton, home to the local Green Howards Company.
[Photograph kindly contributed by Graeme Fisher of Drill Halls website.]

27th May - The "unsinkable" German battleship "Bismarck" was destroyed by the Royal Navy in the Atlantic.

8th June - British invade Lebanon and Syria.

22nd June - Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

21st October - A German air-raid dropped bombs over the Skelton area.
Of the half dozen or so that fell one came very close to hitting North Skelton Mine head.
The rest, fortunately, fell in the open fields between there and Trout Hall Farm.

6th December - On the Eastern Front, Russians launched a massive counter attack.

7th December - Japanese attack Pearl Harbour. USA and Britain declared war on Japan and Germany declared War on USA.

1942 15th February - Singapore fell to the Japanese.

Skelton Corn Mill Prior to Bombing

And the rear of the building after.

February - Arthur Harris was appointed head of Royal Air Force Bomber Command.
From now on the Germans would know the terror of the "blitz" and their morale would be sapped.
Harris has since been criticised for waging war on civilians, but there is little doubt that the German leadership would have used the atomic bomb on the Allies if they had developed it first.
Arthur "Bomber" Harris and Lancaster aircraft.


Montgomery.



SKELTON MEN WHO FLEW WITH BOMBER COMMAND.
Charles Holmes [see Skelton Stories page 82] and Squadron Leader Joe Reed. DFC with his parents [see page 51].
The Bomber Command Medal issued, to the Nation's disgrace, almost 70 years after the War ended, when most of those who survived the perilous sorties over enemy territory had died of old age.


A North Skelton Miner's payslip for 1943.
The production of Steel was vital for the Nation's War effort and miners who tried to enlist were told their jobs were just as important.

16th April - A German air-raid dropped bombs on the Skelton area.
Skelton Water Mill, just below the Castle took a direct hit.
One bomb landed not far behind the Wharton Arms. One just missed the Kennels.
Another caused a crater in Marske Rd, not far below the Duke William Hotel.
Many windows were shattered all over Skelton by the blasts, but compared to many other parts of England we were let off lightly.

30th May - Royal Air Force launched the first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne, Germany.

4th June - USA defeated the Japanese at the Naval Battle of Midway.

June 21 : Germans under Rommel in N Africa recaptured Tobruk.

1st to 27th July - First Battle of El Alamein. German/Italian attacks halted by the Allies.

14th July - Death of 2341562 Signalman Gordon Peel. 22nd Armd Bde Sigs, Royal Corps of Signals. Age:22. Son of Gordon and Lilian Peel, of Skelton-in-Cleveland, Yorkshire. Memorial Column 52, El Alamein Memorial. Click to see his memorial

4th September - James Coates, aged 36 of 46 Cockburn St, Lingdale died as a result of an accident in North Skelton Mine. Son of Sarah and the late George Coates. He was buried at Boosbeck Cemetery. An inquest in Guisborough was conducted by the coroner Bernard Wilkinson. Robert Parker, a mines Deputy of Fenton St, Boosbeck stated that he examined the place where Coates was to work at 5.45 a m and found it quite safe. Later he heard that an accident had occurred and he found Coates trapped. About a ton of stone had fallen. Thomas George Edwards, an ironstone miner of the Commercial Hotel, Boosbeck, said he was working with Coates. Both inspected the place and everything appeared to be in order. Coates went to break up some stone which had previously come down, when, with warning there was a fall of stone part of which came down on top of Coates. Dr W A Kirkpatrick gave the cause of death as being a fracture base of the skull. [If anyone knows more about James Coates' please contact this website as a family member is seeking more information.]

23rd October to 3rd November - Second Battle of El Alamein. The Allies, under Montgomery, forced the Germans into a retreat that Churchill called the "the beginning of the end".

24th October - Death of 327105 Trooper George William Breckon.
Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons, Royal Armoured Corps. Age: 21. Son of George William and Annie Breckon, of Skelton, Yorkshire. Grave XI. A. 27, El Alamein War Cemetery. Click to see his memorial

El Alamein Memorial.

14th November - Death of 1882991 Sapper Ernest Leslie Davison.
296 Field Coy, Royal Engineers.
Age: 23.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. L. Davison, of Skelton-in-Cleveland, Yorkshire.
Memorial Column 47, El Alamein Memorial. Click to see his memorial

19th November - The German Sixth Army were surrounded at Stalingrad marking the start of Soviet superiority in the East.

1943. 23rd January - British forces captured Tripoli.

2nd February - German Sixth Army surrendered to the Russians at Stalingrad.

HMS Dasher.

2nd March - German Army in N Africa retreated from Tunisia.

27th March - Death of C/JX 374404 Ordinary Seaman James Alan Lightwing.
H.M.S. Dasher, Royal Navy.
Age: 21.
Son of John Robert and Ada May Lightwing, of Skelton-in-Cleveland, Yorkshire.
Memorial 70, 2, Chatham Naval Memorial.

Click to see his memorial

16th May - German industial sites in the Ruhr heavily bombed.

5th July - Russians and Germans fought the biggest tank Battle ever at Kursk.

Local Homeguard about this time.

After the threat of invasion receded in 1940 the Home Guard continued to train and were not stood down until December 1944.
They were eventually all provided with uniforms and equipment. The area between Park Pit and Waterfall Farm was used as a firing range.
Old Shaft Cottages were used for target practice about this time and demolished.
Old Shaft had been the first ironstone mine in the Skelton area and these dwellings were built around the time of its opening in 1861.
At the census of 1881, 7 miners and their families, 43 people in all, were living there.
In 1901 there were 5 families and 33 in all. They were finally abandoned in 1939.

Old Shaft Cottages as they were in 1939.

9th July - Allied forces land on Sicily.

21st July. London Gazette. Bankruptcy.
Barker, Henry, residing and carrying on business at The New Inn, Skelton-in-Cleveland, in the county of York, Locensed Victualler, formerly residing and carrying on business at The Cross Keys Inn, Kirkgate, Thirsk, in the said county of York. Court—Middlesbrough. No. of Matter—30 of 1932. Amount per £—1s. 8d. First or Final, or otherwise Supplemental. When Payable—July 21, 1943. Where Payable—80, High Street, Stockton-on-Tees.

25th July - Mussolini overthrown in Italy.

30th August - 1149159 Sergeant [Pilot] Kenneth Knaggs of the 26 O.Y.U Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was killed over France.
He was aged 22 and the son of George William and Alice Knaggs, of Skelton-in-Cleveland, Yorkshire.
He is buried in Grave: Plot 4. Row AA. Grave 12, Longuenesse [St Omer] Souvenir Cemetery, France. Click to see his memorial


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