Postscript: The Bombing of Alnmouth

I realised late last night that, in writing yesterday’s account of the air raid on North-East England in August 1940, I had forgotten to mention the reason why I started reading about this particular event. I think it might be interesting to a few people so have decided to put up a short postscript today.

My Uncle George, my late father’s older brother, lives in the picturesque coastal village of Alnmouth in Northumberland. It’s a lovely little place, not far from the market town of Alnwick (which in 2002 was voted the best place to live in Britain by Country Life magazine; it’s always been popular with the huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ crowd). The countryside around is spectacularly beautiful and full of historical interest; Alnwick Castle is particularly interesting. Alnmouth itself is a small port, with a number of splendid pubs and places to eat, and is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. In fact, I intend to move to that part of the world when I retire (if I live that long).

Anyway, Uncle George lives in Argyle Street in the centre of Alnmouth but I was quite surprised to see that the street has a few modern dwellings when virtually every property in the town is quite old, most of the others being of traditional stone construction like so many houses in Northumberland. It turns out that Argyle Street was bombed during World War II and that the new houses were built to replace several that had been destroyed.

It seemed strange to me that the Luftwaffe would bother bombing a tiny place like Alnmouth, so I decided to see what I could find out about the event. Knowing a little about the huge raid I described yesterday, I assumed that it might have been a German bomber involved in that particular raid, jettisoning its load in order to evade an RAF fighter. So I found as many books as I could and started reading about the Battle of Britain, which I found fascinating. Hence yesterday’s post.

However, it turns out that the bombing of Alnmouth in fact took place over  a year later, on Saturday 8th November, 1941 at 19.20:

Two bombs on Alnmouth Village; one on a house in Argyle Street, the other in the roadway (a cul-de-sac). People trapped – still digging for four adults and three children believed buried. Later – five missing presumed dead, two died in hospital and twenty were injured. The bodies of a woman identified, also that of a man believed to be a Major Hawkes. Another woman’s body recovered later. Three houses demolished, eleven uninhabitable and many others damaged badly.

The bombs killed seven people, in fact; one man and six women. It was clearly a traumatic event for the people of the village and one which has left a scar to this day.

At that time in the evening in November it would have been dark, and it is thought that the bombing must have resulted from a failure to maintain the wartime blackout that was usually strictly enforced. Initially the blame was attached to two buses at terminus in Argyle Street whose headlights were thought to be reflecting in the water.

It’s still not clear what this plane actually was or what it was doing there on its own. It might have been on a reconnaissance mission, although that seems unlikely given that it was dark and would have been dark for some time; the sun would have sets around 16.15 at that time of year in Alnmouth, three hours before the bombs were dropped. It is more likely to have been part of a larger raid going elsewhere that noticed a light and went for what they call “a target of opportunity”.

PS. Almnouth is just a few miles North of Acklington, which featured prominently in yesterday’s post.

13 Responses to “Postscript: The Bombing of Alnmouth”

  1. I’ve long dreamed of buying a holiday home in that part of the world, in particular in Seahouses. As you undoubtedly know, its a raggedy, windswept and charming port town which is a short boat ride away from both a seal colony and a site of enormous historical significance.

    I’ve spent most of my life in towns with port/ship-building histories. There’s nothing comparable where I live now and I rather miss the water these days.

  2. telescoper Says:

    Yes, I know Seahouses very well. When I was a little kid I sang in the local Church choir and at Easter we all went to Seahouses for a few days and sang there. I remember going on a boat trip to the Farne Islands, which are just a few miles away. It’s also just down the coast from Bamburgh, with its truly spectacular castle.

  3. Funny you should mention this right now. I was at a conference in Newcastle last week and the excursion was to Alnwick castle. I’d never been to the town before and it’s a beautiful place, as you say.

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    There’s a hotel at Alnwick which contains a panelled dining room taken from the Titanic’s sister ship during the first stage of her demolition at Jarrow. I made a point of dining there once (the White Swan), about 20 years ago.


    just a few coments about the bombing of alnmouth and maybe a bit of new a child living in gateshead i used to spend my summer holidays there late 60s/70s[in “mr greys house”].moving on 35 years,on a golfing trip with a few pals staying in the village,we were returning from alnwick on the local bus after a few beers.i got chatting to an elderly chap 80plus,on his way home to amble.i mentioned the bombing which i heard about a few years earlier.Well ,i was gobsmacked,he was a young warden in the village and told me he saw the bombers turning to come back to the village,he claims that it was the lights from the rear of the scooner pub not the bus lights that gave the game away.i had know reason to disbelieve him….another little ditty..going back to the 60s,i think it was my 7th birthday while on holiday,my parents bought me my first golf club from an second hand shop in was an old wooden shafted club with the name Eddie fernie on the back of the club head and shaft.this fellow was the golf pro at the alnmouth village not sure when,30s/40s,theres now a seat dedicated to him outside the clubhouse,and i still have the club now,

  6. Interesting also from the point of view of the villages after the bombing, and towards their view of the pub therafter

  7. Charles Rhind Says:

    I was in Alnmouth this week and noticed the civilians on the war memorial at the entrance to the village. I googled the date and your site came up. Thanks for the info!

  8. Charles Rhind Says:

    Titanic stuff – Red Lion Inn in Alnmouth allegedly has wood paneling from the Carpathia which was the first ship to head to the stricken liner.

  9. Karen Stapley Says:

    My Great-grandmother Margaret Georgina Little was one of the people who died in that bombing. She was working at beechwood, Argyle Street, which was a private hotel at the time. She had her 5 year old son (my great uncle) with her at the time luckily he survived, the rest of her children being at home in Alnwick at the time.

    • Pam Muggleton Says:

      To mark the centenary of Alnmouth War Memorial in July this year, 2021, the WI are organising a display around the village including profiles of the people honoured on the Memorial. If you have any information, particularly photographic, we would be very pleased if you would share that with us and perhaps join us at the rededication (we hope – covid 19 permitting). The provisional date will be 25 July


    My grandfather, grandmother, father, uncle and aunt lived in the house on Argyle Street. My grandmother had schrapnel in her back for the rest of her life. My father and uncle were found in the crater created by the bomb. My father told me that the bathtub was found two streets away!

  11. STAN IREDALE Says:

    Was thie the reason Alnmouth was bombed : In 1940 a decoy airfield was set up near the village of Boulmer with its grass runways and plywood and canvas Hurricanes to divert German attacks from nearby Royal Air Force (RAF) airfields such as RAF Acklington.

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