Looking Back to Bombing Raids in the Second World War

Two officers killed in the line of duty and another off-duty at home


During the Second World War, the City of Hull, like many other British towns and cities, was subjected to sustained bombing raids; 1,241 of its citizens were killed during enemy air raids between 1939 and 1945. It became the most bombed city in Britain outside of London.

Returning RAF pilots crossing the coast of Denmark reported seeing the glow of fires at Hull during the worst night of bombing on the 7th May 1941. It was a night when 120 enemy aircraft focused their attention on the city for more than six hours and 279 people were killed with many more injured and nearly 7,000 made homeless. As always, one of the main targets that night was the city’s docks area and the Dockmaster’s house on King George Dock took a direct hit by a parachute mine. Albert Eastwood and his wife Ethel survived, but their two eldest children, Kenneth aged 18, and his sister Muriel, 23, were killed instantly. Two other children, Roy and Winifred, suffered serious injuries but later recovered at Driffield Hospital. The King George Dock was a prime target for the German Luftwaffe as they attempted to destroy the port, but their efforts were in vain, as the docks did not miss a single day’s work, at least up until 1941.

Kenneth and his brother Roy, 17, had just returned from Home Guard training and were standing outside their home when they spotted incendiary devices falling from the sky near the house, next to the main dock gate entrance and opposite the Police Station. Two dock Constables Pc John Woods, 52, and Pc George Barker, 65, were helping the young men to extinguish incendiary bombs when a parachute mine floated down from the sky and became snagged on a poplar tree next to the family’s house. Although 18 year-old Kenneth Eastwood realised a bomb was falling and was able to shout a warning to the others, he and his sister Muriel and the two policemen were killed instantly when the bomb exploded seconds later. Constable John Woods was a police dog-handler, teamed with an Alsatian dog – Hull Docks had been the first police force in Britain to train police dogs when they introduced Airedales in 1908. Had it not been for the war, Pc George Barker may have already been retired or would certainly have been on the point of doing so. All the officers at Hull Docks were armed with pistols kept in holsters slung over one shoulder, alongside their gas masks, on the outside of their tunics.

Police Constable John Tong, aged 60, was also killed in a later air-raid. He was off duty on 24th June 1943 and at home with his wife Edith aged 58, when their terraced house at number 3 Carlton Terrace, Victor Street, Holderness Road, near the eastern docks area of the city, took a direct hit. John’s body was recovered from the rubble and his seriously injured wife died three days later on the 27th June at Hull Royal Infirmary.


Compiled by Viv Head from information researched by John Fenton and an article in the Hull Daily Mail of Friday 9th May 1941