Target Head Wrightson

Head Wrightson reproduced an aerial photograph which, early in the war, accompanied instructions to the Luftwaffe that their target should be Head Wrightson. Head Wrightson published this image in their magazine (Head Wrightson & Co., Ltd and Subsidiaries, World War II: 1939 – 1945) with the hope that the pin-pointed attention directed to us by our enemies will, in a different manner, be directed to us by our friends.

Image courtesy of Robert Greenwell.

7 thoughts on “Target Head Wrightson

  1. Born in 1935 I was just old enough to see and remember these events. We sat upstairs in Hartburn to watch the early raids. I remember a German bomber caught in a searchlight cone. It flew level for some moments and then dived out of the cone. I remember also a magnesium flare they dropped – in all these years watching firework displays I have never seen anything so dramatic. Later a stick of bombs straddled Hartburn – two near Hartburn School, one between the railway and Ropner Park and one on the Ferry household further downtown. The Ferry boys survived but I believe one or both parents were killed. I suppose the Germans were no more accurate than the RAF at that stage before advanced technology ‘improved’ bombing.


  2. “Bomb, Der Head Wrightson Eisen Works, Thornaby, is what it says on these pilot’s instructions, which the pilot of this enemy plane flying over Thornaby, on 11 March 1943, attempted. This was to be Thornaby’s worst raid of the war with a total of 550 people being made homeless. The first bomb exploded in Darlington Street (situated 330 yards from the H & W works) the second bomb landed in Princess Street, just yards away, this bomb affected H &W production for 24 hours and caused severe road and rail disruption in the area. Three people were killed during this raid, and 72 people were injured.

    Housing damage was enormous with 541 houses seriously damaged, of which 81 had to be demolished, the Britannia Hotel, Pumphreys Sugar works, Allan’s Bonlea Foundry, and Sheldon’s Sweet factory were damaged, and the National School would not reopen for 12 months. The writer Bob Wilson was one of the rescued, the fire services had to dig him out of their house. When found, I was sound asleep (it had been a tiring night) I was covered in chimney soot and dust, but otherwise unarmed. We were rehoused. The Windmill Public house was the local headquarters for the homeless family’s Appeal Fund-efforts.

    Bob Wilson.


  3. Ron Walton also had a great career there, advancing through the ranks, until retirement commencing as an apprentice before the War, (interrupted by war service in HM Royal Navy), as did his son, Derek, who unfortunately pre-deceased his Dad. Are any of Ron’s peers still around?


  4. The bombing targets also include the Malleable Works and Fred Kidd and Sons’ factory on Church Road.

    Although ICI Billingham was highly developed, no trace of it is on prewar Ordnance Survey Maps


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