Peter Godfrey — 6 Comments

  1. Regarding this article about the attack near the Plessey factory my mother, May Lowry (Parker), lived between Plessey and the bus garage in Ley Street. She, with a friend, were going to work and were walking over the “iron bridge” as it was commonly called and thought they were waving to our pilots until they were strafed. Until about 20 years a go, maybe still, the evidence of this was still visible with bullet holes in a lamp-post in the High Road by the alley-way leading to the bridge. I wonder if this is the same raid as mentioned in the article. Regards to all your readers, Danny Lowry.

  2. I wonder if that was the morning I remember as a lad, living in Brixham Gardens, Ilford, near to Barking Bus Garage. A German plane, flying very low, machine gunned our row of houses. I was just getting out of bed at the time, the noise from the plane engine was deafening. My elder sister was cut on the ankle from flying glass, luckily no one was seriously hurt.

  3. Wow, after all these years, I have finally come across an article that I remember as a child 7 years old. I lived in Kings Gardens one road back from Vicarage Lane, my parents owned the Vic Cafe opposite Plessey facing Vicarage Lane. My sister and myself were getting ready for school when all of a sudden my mother threw us under the dining room table because she had heard machine gun fire and planes low over the top of our house and being close to Plessey she knew it was a raid (although as mentioned there was no air raid warning).
    When it was all over, my sister and myself walked to school via the Iron Bridge which led to the High Road (we both went to SS Peter & Paul school). When we got to the end of the Iron Bridge a Policeman turned us back and told us to return home, I caught a glimpse of a trolley bus that had been hit and people with stretchers. My father told me that he had been standing in the Cafe doorway that morning and saw the planes thinking they were ours until all hell let loose and he and his customers made a dash for the store cellar. My god I have never forgotten that morning.
    Another incident another time in Vicarage Lane, both of us were just near the railway bridge when we saw a Doodlebug coming towards us and as it got nearer it’s engine started to stop and start and a man ahead of us told us to lay down in the gutter, we were lucky because it’s engine started again and it carried on. As kid’s we took a lot in and saw plenty during the war.

  4. Tony ; Of all the articles within your fabulous website, this one interests me by far & away the most !
    Especially so, as I was bought-up on a strict diet of building wartime version Airfix models & reading countless ‘Commando’ comics,
    I’d both bought & built my earliest Focke-Wulf 190 models around 1971. In fact I still currently have about 10-12 unbuilt Tamiya 1/48th Fw.190’s with countless different JagdGeschwader decal sheets (different versions/pilots), as well as about 10-11 different metal-diecast Hobbymaster 1/48th Fw.190 display models… (all BMW.801 versions).
    I’d best split my answers into two different (seperate) posts – one covering my input into my (slight) human link/association with it & the other regarding what ‘should’ be additional military info’ regarding the event & it’s aftermath.

    Firstly then, I was both surprised & amazed to learn of this ‘local’ raid that I knew nothing of.
    I’m sure my views would’ve been shared by three of my closest friends & neighbours… all of whom became Plessey employees… Matt Dove, who went on to become a BBC sound-engineer after his time at Plesseys – also the beautiful & gorgeous blonde Caroline Halden (‘Caz’) who not only worked there for many years, but also used to give me a lift into work (nearby) each day & invited me to her ‘Plessey’s Sportsday’ social event. As well, I might mention that she not only used to be a fellow Mayfield-Girls school pupil, but also, like me, she initially lived down Christie Gdns opposite the Mayfield Girl’s school for the first 22-25 years of her life. (I should also mention another mate, Paul Young who was still at Plesseys thru the 1980’s till closure). ~
    I’d love to know “if” Carol (‘Caz’) is still about, as she was VERY instrumental (no pun intended) in getting me both involved in & getting me fluent on playing guitar – plus she was a real good mate in & during both my younger (single figure) & later teenage years !

    Perhaps my biggest surprise was mentioning THIS article to my Dad in the kitchen the other day, only to have him reply…. “Your Nan, my Mother used to work there during the war & was actually there during 1943” – which came as news & a complete surprise to me.
    (she’d previously worked next-door to Greyfriar’s Passage/Church EC.4 & was there on the night of 29th/30th Dec’ 1940 ‘offically’ known as THE worst & most devastating/damaging night of the entire Luftwaffe London ‘Blitz’)

    I’ll post a few additional (military) items relating to March 12th 1943 after this…

  5. I was intrigued about this (previously unknown to me) ‘local’ raid & was wondering as to how Peter Godfrey had gone about his research. Just seeing the name ‘Trautloft’ reminded me of how many times he’d been mentioned in Capt.James Goodson’s books – James Goodson, a P.51 Mustang ace, of the USAAF 4th F.G. held Trautloft in quite some high regard.
    By chance, I met James Goodson over North Weald one afternoon in 1992 for 1/2hr (only break in conversation were two P.51 Mustangs landing) – the link here between North Weald & Luftwaffe ‘raid-leader’, Major Trautloft leads me to question the part of Peter Godfrey’s article which states…
    “Of the Focke Wulf 190s six were brought down by fighters from Biggin Hill”.
    Looking it up for myself (unsure) on the ‘net, revealed this…

    Group Captain KAJ BIRKSTED – “Birksted led 331 Squadron’s Supermarine Spitfires into battle many times, gaining particular distinction in the interception of a German bomber formation over London on March 12, 1943. His unit broke up the formation, downed six bombers, and damaged four others.” – I knew from my own experience that RAF’s 331 Sqdn were definitely based at North Weald & it turns out they were still based there on the date of this raid. – (incidentally, not only is there a huge memorial to the Norsk squadrons at North Weald, but they also send a pair of current-day F.16 fighter a/c each year in commemoration of their airfield links & ancestry !). It seems therefore that it was ESSEX based Norwegian lads (rather than those in Kent) that deserve credit ?
    Luft’ Major Trautloft had a (good) humanitarian side too – He & his adjutant just 18 months later, were personally responsible for rescuing, saving & delivering no less than 168 Allied airman from the notorious Buchenwald ‘death-camp’ from the clutches of the Gestapo & SS running the camp – They clashed directly with harsh words exchanged, but by that stage, Trautloft held such a high Luftwaffe position (he was by then in charge of ALL Luftwaffe fighter a/c on the Eastern Front), that he easily out-ranked any of the local SS & merely brushed them aside.
    It’s also worth mentioning the (huge) part (in this) played by RNZAF Sqdn-Ldr Phillip Lamason, whose written report managed to reach Trautloft’s desk & an American B.17 gunner named Bernard Scharf, as for during the ‘visit’, the SS were trying to “pull the wool” over Trautloft’s eyes, but they got caught out.
    This amazing ‘168 man’ rescue has also been given verbal testimony on the superb BBC television documentary “Bomber Boys” by RAF Sgt.Ron Leverington, a Handley-Page Halifax turret-gunner from 102 Sqdn in Yorkshire… just one of “the” 168 men who were destined to be executed less than a week later.
    BTW ; the ‘other’ Fw.190 ‘raid’ pilot that Peter Godfrey mentions is Stafflekapitan Paul Keller (of JG.26).
    It might be of interest to know that he was shot-down & killed on March 25th 1943 on a raid over Ashford, less than a fortnight after the raid on this thread.

  6. In March 1943 I was 10 years old living at Chadwell Heath. I remember being wakened from my sleep by loud noises and going to my bedroom window to see a German aircraft flying past, at roof level just over the bottom of the garden, with all guns firing. I could actually see the German pilot in detail. My mother then pulled me back. I do not remember being frightened then, or at any time during the air raids, strange.
    I am very thankful to Peter Godfrey and Mayfield Memories for the German Focke-Wolf attack article. I am coming up 90 now and feel reassured that my memories do not play tricks.
    Ironically, I now have a German Great Grandson – funny old world.

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