de Havilland factory bomb

Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

On 3 Oct 1940, a lone Junkers 88 bombed the de Havilland Aircraft factory at Hatfield, killing 21 people and injuring 70 more. There are numerous eye-witness accounts of the raid, which happened on a dull and misty morning.  It later emerged was that Hatfield was not the prime target.  Trying to find Reading, the crew became lost in poor visibility, and at a low level, came across Hatfield.  The plane was hit by an anti-aircraft machine guns at Roe Green.  Having dropped its bombs, it flew towards Hertford with flames coming from its engine and crash landed at East End Green Farm, Hertingfordbury. 


The devastation at the factory was considerable and many were injured. The building known as the 94 shop, which received direct hits was completely flattened and burnt out. The air raid was sounded only a short time before bombs dropped and the crude shelters in the factory contributed to the toll.
De Havilland factory entrance c1950 (HALS CV/HAT/165)
One first aider later said ‘while we lay there we could hear the machine-gun bullets patting on the iron of the trench roof. I cannot describe the scene. Large fires, smoke, debris, lumps of concrete everywhere. A shelter had collapsed onto some people, crushing them to death. I saw benches similar to ours in the Toolroom. Men had sheltered under them and presumably their muscles had contracted as ther were multiple compound fractures everywhere and many, many bones sticking out, up to four inches. There was no blood. Quite the reverse, they looked ash-grey, dusty and unreal.’
Wreckage of the Ju 88. The pilot, Oberlutnant Siegward Fiebig and his 3 crew members, Eric Goebel, H Ruthof and K Seifert all survived and were taken prisoner (ref HALS Acc 4947)

de Havilland factory administration building

This page was added on 09/07/2020.

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  • My father was only 4 at the time of the bombing but it was his first memory, of getting on a bus to his gran’s in St Albans, with his mother holding the baby who had a gash on his head. They never went back to the house so it must have been destroyed or badly damaged. It was an odd address: the road was called Right Away. I’ve not been able to locate it on any maps. Does anyone know where it was?

    By Jane Wilkinson (13/01/2022)
  • My mother was injured in the blast. When the twin towers collapsed she had a flash back to then and being caked in dust

    By Tina Corr (25/12/2021)
  • I am the granddaughter of Gracie, Alice Grace Toop. She was married to Lionel Alfred Toop for a few months before he died in the bombing of the de Havilland factory. It would be nice to have contact with David James as I remember the names Auntie Win, Brian and Geraldine James.

    By Patricia Kooistra (18/08/2021)
  • My Dad’s uncle, Lionel Alfred Toop was one of those killed in this raid, aged 37. He was survived by his wife Gracie Toop. His job was Aircraft Foreman Sheet Metal Worker.

    By David James (20/12/2020)
  • I remember my mother telling me (Betty Earl)) that she was late for work that morning at the factory, she had just got off the bus and was hurrying to the factory when the bombs hit. I personally am great full for a fault alarm clock. Any information would be gratefully appreciated. 18th December 2020

    By Robin Earl (18/12/2020)
  • Bombing in KingsburyN.W.9 by lone German plane.My husband now 94 years of age was standing on the doorstep of the house concerned minutes prior to this happening.He was a junior member of the local A.R.P.
    He thinks the plane that flew over was the one that bombed Hatfield aerodrome.
    Would you be interested in the information he can recall.

    By Lily Ould (01/12/2020)
  • Dear Mrs Ould. What an amazing story. We will be in touch.
    Thanks Ed.

    By Marion Hill (09/12/2020)