This image is the cover for the book Middlesbrough at War 1939–45, Your Towns & Cities in World War Two

Middlesbrough at War 1939–45, Your Towns & Cities in World War Two

Middlesbrough was of vital importance to Britain’s war effort. The town, and its surrounding area, contained a number of vital industries including shipbuilding, chemicals, iron, steel and other metals, and engineering, as well as a joinery firm that played a leading role in the wartime aviation industry. The ICI plant at nearby Billingham also played a leading role in the creation of petrochemicals and explosives. As with many communities, the start of the war saw Middlesbrough faced with hastily having to bring its Air Raid Precautions and civil defense services up to full strength. With its strategic importance it was believed that Middlesbrough would be an obvious target for the Luftwaffe. As a result, schoolchildren and other vulnerable people were evacuated from the town at the very start of the war in a scheme that did not prove entirely successful. Middlesbrough became the first built-up urban area in mainland Britain to be bombed. In the event, Middlesbrough was raided periodically throughout the war with the worst coming on the night of 25/26 July 1942, when waves of Luftwaffe bombers dropped almost 30 tons of bombs on the town. The raid killed sixteen people and caused very extensive property damage. Meanwhile, just days later, bombs fell on the town’s railway station as a train was waiting at the platform there. The pictures of the resulting damage were wired around the world.

Craig Armstrong

Born and bred in Northumberland, Dr Craig Armstrong is an experienced historian with a special interest in the history of the North East of England and the Anglo-Scottish Borders. He has expertise in 19th and 20th century history with a particular focus on social and military history. Dr Armstrong currently splits his time between teaching at Newcastle University and working as a freelance researcher and writer on the history of North East England and Scotland.

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