10 thoughts on “Victoria Bridge, Stockton c2005

    • Tim, We were far too busy keeping our heads down to look and see what was bombing us. When I was lying on the road in Mill Lane as the bombs dropped on the old mill I was not thinking “oh wonder what aircraft that is” I was wondering why Hitler had picked me out, what had I done to him apart from sing silly songs about him. In Darlington I was cowering in a doorway with a canopy and certainly not in a position to look up, surprising how small you can make yourself.
      The Victoria Bridge and surroundings were hit by sticks of bombs and a lot of damage done both sides of the river, there were a lot of planes that night and we knew by the de-synchronized engines, the British twin engines planes were synchronized. On top of that a lot of our own AA was flying up and what goes up comes down so no we did not spend time looking up. People born after the war cannot conceive what it was like for those of us who were, two nearly three years of sirens bomb Shelters yet carrying on with normal life school for us kids and war work for the grown ups, we kids knew no better but could smell the fear of the grown ups. You just never forget and being fussy over the details never entered our heads.


  1. Thanks to all, especially Frank, for the information. I was unaware of any of this and have lived in Stockton all my life. I guess I was born too late. (1945)


  2. I was told by my father about these ‘bullet’ holes when I was very young and judging by the size of the holes it was probably done by the larger cannon fire from the plane rather than the smaller bullets. Everytime we pass this spot on the bridge in the car I can’t help but comment on them–much to the wifes dismay. Lets face it, it’s a blokes thing !


    • Sorry to put the tin hat on all the machine gun theories those marks were made by shrapnel. The Bomb dropped on the bridge on the road alongside the railing next to the Cleveland Flour Mill will which was also damaged by a bomb the same night. Those bombs though small blow apart into many shards of hot steel they were close to the rail and what killed Mr Ewles who was on the other side of the road. A hole was blown in the road damaging the gas and water pipes under the bridge. The pipes were repaired but the hole left and I spent many years looking into it (excuse the pun) from the bus as i passed. That is not to say the German Planes did not fly low at times machine gunning the Streets as I found in Darlington one night as we all ran for shelter, believe me those bullets bounce off anything hard and scream away as ricochets, this also proved to be the case when I was a Bren gunner bullets like soft landings not cast steel.
      There are plenty of stories on this site telling of wartime bombing and also of our own anti aircraft shells coming down and exploding on the ground, what went up came back down and we boys gathered up the shrapnel next morning, some of it so sharp you could have shaved with it.


  3. I was told the damage to the bridge was caused when a German Bomber machine gunned a ship off loading at the flour mill near to the bridge. They look like bullet holes when viewed close up.


  4. On the other side of the road there was similar damage to the bridge parapet. Being very young I thought that Iron Cross Fliers had strafed the bridge with machines guns and these were bullet holes. Maybe if I had gone to the Odeon Cinema instead of the Empire, I may have been better informed about such wartime matters, it just shows how the producers and directors of films such as; A Bridge too Far, The Longest Day, To Hell and Back and They Were Expendable misled us all. Little did the Public know then that precsion bombing meant that if you could hit a 25 mile square (5miles x 5miles) in a bombing raid you were credited with a direct hit.


  5. Vince probably thinks it war damage because a stick of three bombs straddled the bridge on the night of 25-26 th August 1940 killing Harold Ewles on his way to work Stockton’s first Death by bombing. The bombs in the river shattered windows and damaged hotels on the East side of the river and other bombs damaged the Cleveland flour Mills and Mandale Road Thornaby.
    The hole in the road was not repaired for years well after the war and as I often crossed the bridge on the 0 bus to North Ormseby to my Grandparents I did see it often and the pipes under it which were damaged. They just put barriers up until they could repair it not thinking how long that would take.
    I lived in Mill lane Norton and we were straddled on various nights of raids, first the Old Mill just down the Lane from us then the Bottom of Norton Avenue then Pine Street, you do not forget those things and I remember thinking the next one will be plumb centre on my head. Many years later working at ICI we repaired wartime damage to storage tanks, they must have been good repairs although quickly done as they lasted well over thirty years.
    This area saw action which is obviously not known by a lot of people and when we old hands go will most likely be gone forever, who will remember Harold Ewles then I ask.


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