Enemy attack on the George Bligh. 1940

by Arthur


Fishing Smacks being towed across the bar 22-09-2000

Paddle Tug

I have included this photo, as this is about the same spot that I refer to in the accompanying story.

At around 11 A.M. on the morning of the 3rd of February 1940 My father and I were on Cliff Hill Gorleston. More or less in the position shown in the photo above. Suddenly we heard the sound of an aircraft plus explosions and machinegun fire, and on looking out over the harbour entrance we could clearly see an enemy plane strafing the examination boat. This was the first time I witnessed enemy action since the outbreak of war, although certainly not the last, as I spent the next four years living just outside Weymouth in Dorset & witnessed some incredible sceneís especially during the battle of Britain, including attacks by Stukaís on Portland harbour Navel Base and Oil installationís.   An old friend of mine Stanley Leggett, whose father Dollar Leggett served in the lifeboat with my father, lived just above Cliff Hill at the time this incident took place, has recently written to me giving his personal account of what happened on that day.

Stans account: I was employed during my early teens along with my father on the examination boat The George Bligh, whose job it was to check the papers of all vessels, before they entered the harbour. We did a fortnight out and a fortnight in, our relief vessel was the E.P.Wills. On the morning of the attack at about 11a.m. The aircraft, which seemed to come out of nowhere, dropped its bombs, which fell astern of us doing no damage, but the detonation seemed to lift our stern out of the water. The machinegunning also missed us. Iíll never know how myself and three or four other crewmembers ran forrard to get under the whaleback for protection. It was a bit scary at the time and no doubt we were lucky, because at that time we had no guns to return fire, so we were a sitting duck you might say. It was a good job they didnít come back for a second try or it might have been a different story.

Living so close to the harbour entrance I can remember the block ship. This was moored near the harbour entrance and was to be used to block the harbour, should it become necessary to do so. I ask Stan if he could remember it and this was his written reply.

Stan: The block ship was moored alongside Gorleston Pier, opposite the pilot hut. I think it was an old condemned trawler or small coaster, but I am not sure about that, it was put in place after the Dunkirk evacuation. We were no longer needed after that, so our job came to an end.



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