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)
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de Havilland factory administration building

This page was added on 09/07/2020.

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