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2nd/3rd October 1941 to
It is estimated that about fifty bombers took part in this attack on South Shields. Many fires were started including one that required twenty pumps to contain it. St Hilda's Church in the Market Place, the Town Hall, Crofton's Department Store, Woolworth's were hit, a Public Shelter in the Market Place received hits on two of its entrances, killing twelve people. In a public house which had its roof blown off, a merchant seaman dug himself out and walked six miles to rejoin his ship.
Once again this extensive report was copied from Miss Flagg's excellent document 'Air Raids on South Shields'. Some duplication has been omitted and some text simplified but the main details of the raid are as reported.
South Shields.. Tired workers had not had sufficient rest nor had the essential services been fully restored when the Luftwaffe carried out a more intensive and determined raid on South Shields. In the short space of an hour and a quarter many parts of the town suffered from indiscriminate bombing and the Market Place was made almost derelict by HE bombing and the resultant fire. The times given are those based on reports sent in during the progress of the raid.
At 20.05 the Air Raid Message 'Red' was received and the 'Alert' sounded. At 22.30 the Air Raid Message 'White' was received and the 'Raiders Passed' was sounded - Between the two times, South Shields suffered much - A large number of enemy aircraft, flying at low altitude came in over the river. One or more of these planes succeeded in cutting loose some of the barrage balloons and it soon was evident that a heavy attack was developing.
The first bombs fell, far apart at 20.55. One on a tenement block at South Taylor Street, several dwellings were demolished, with widespread damage to others and many casualties. The other dropped in Wardle's Timber Yard in Long Row, where stacks of timber was damaged and a boundary wall was blown down blocking the road leading to Brigham and Cowan's Yard.
At 21.00 a bomb fell on council houses in Dean Crescent. Eight flats were demolished and much damage done to others, necessitating evacuation. There were a few casualties but none fatal.
Eight minutes later four bombs dropped in the Marlborough Street, Albany Street area, many houses were destroyed, others had to be demolished later, resulting in a large number of people being made homeless. Some people were either trapped in the debris or their shelters and casualties were numerous. A Special Constable on duty in Marlborough Street was killed.
The attack was then carried, at 21.20 to the riverside, the Market Place and the neighbourhood of Westoe Cemetery. Three bombs fell near the river, one on vacant land near Comical Corner, one in Shadwell Street where the road and some adjoining railway lines were torn up and the third on the new quay, in the course of construction near Pilot Street, this one left a crater measuring 50' by 14'.
A stick of bombs fell over the Market Place causing some of the worst damage done in the raid - one fell in vacant ground between the foot of River Drive and the Tyne Dock Engineering Company's premises in Thrift Street. An Air Raid Warden on duty in River Drive was killed by blast and on the north side of the Market Place a messenger was seriously hurt. Another bomb fell on Dunn's Paint Stores and shop, demolishing the building and starting major fires. Two more fell in the Market Place, one on the entrance to the shelter under the south east quarter, near East Street, the explosion fractured a gas main which burst into flame and set fire to a trolley bus standing nearby, the other fell on the shelter in the north east quarter.
The Market Place fires soon spread to adjoining buildings and 'Mutual Aid' was called for. Miller's Stores caught fire and the flames crossed East Street and spread to the Tram Hotel, the Grapes Hotel, Jackson's the Tailors at the corner of King Street and the King's Shoe shop. The whole of this block was soon ablaze and had it not been for the solidity of the dividing walls at Lipton's and Mason's shops, of which the upstairs parts were on fire, much more fire damage would have occurred in King Street.
The fire started by the bomb on Dunn's Paint Store spread to Hanlon's shop, the Locomotive Hotel, Campbell's Lodging House and the Union Flag public house. Tins of burning oil and paint were hurled into the air and started fires in the City of Durham public house, the Metropole Hotel and the Imperial Hotel. Crofton's drapery stores at the corner of King Street was set on fire by a leaking gas main, then the fire spread to Woolworth's next door, which was completely gutted. The side entrance to the Regal Theatre and Galt's Fruit Store in Union Alley were also damaged by fire.
With so many fires and so much damage to the water mains, water had to be relayed from the Ferry Landing and the static water tank in North Street. By daylight all the fires were under control, but it was not until midday on October 3rd that the burning gas main outside the Water Company's Offices was extinguished because the stopcock to turn off the gas supply could not be found.
Despite many rumours at the time, the loss of life in the Market Place shelters was comparatively small - twelve killed, five were rescued, this was partly due to the fact that as the road to the Market Place from Union Alley had been blocked in the previous raid, many people from the cinema had to go in the opposite direction to the shelters in North Street. Three men on their way to work were crossing the Market Place as the bombs began to fall; one took refuge in the shelter nearby, but was injured, the second was killed just outside the shelter and the body of the third was never found. It was suspected that he had been blown by blast into the burning paint shop, long continued digging to recover his body was without result.
At daylight on Friday morning, the Market Place was a scene of complete devastation. In addition to which, all of the remaining windows in St Hilda's church were shattered, the stonework pitted and scarred by splinters. The Old Town Hall suffered much interior harm and none of the business premises was left intact. All the overhead wires were down and it was not until the afternoon of October 9th that buses were able to pass along King Street.
At the same time (21.10) two bombs fell near the Westoe Cemetery, one on the unmade road in Candlish Street, between the Mica Lubricant Works and the dwelling houses opposite, damaging the Works severely and destroying six houses. A large number of people were made homeless. No service mains were affected but one fire was started, the NFS soon had it under control. The second bomb fell in the Harton Coal Company's railway cutting adjoining Erskine Road, at the end of Selbourne Street, the track was torn up and an electric cable took fire, the power to it could not be turned off locally and so it continued to burn, possibly guiding the enemy aircraft back to bomb the area a second time, for at 21.23 Hyde Street and Wharton Street nearby was the scene of further casualties and destruction.
One bomb fell in Wharton Street, six houses were razed to the ground and many more made unsafe. Two bombs fell in Hyde Street where twenty houses were destroyed and a large number damaged. In both streets people were trapped under the debris or in their surface shelters and some of the casualties were fatal. Small fires broke out under the wreckage, human chains were formed and buckets of water were passed along it, the fires were soon put out. Gas and water mains were affected and upwards of forty houses had to be taken down later. Some of the many homeless were accommodated in Rest Centres.
At 21.25 a bomb fell in Thrift Street between the fitting shop and No 1 dock of the Tyne Dock Engineering Company's repair Yard. It wrecked the side of the dry dock lifting a 570 ton vessel off the keel blocks and laid it on its side. Much damage was done to the fitting shop, the plumber's shop, the blacksmith's shop and the Stores, but there were no casualties. Another bomb fell in a newly constructed power house at Brigham and Cowan's dock near Long Row. It demolished the building plus the generators and dynamos therein, much damage was also done to a partly completed structure at the end of a new dock. A roll of cable was blown over the dock onto the roof of a fitting shop. The water and gas mains were damaged, but there were no casualties.
In Winchester Street a block of six houses on the north side were demolished by another bomb, serious damage was done to other properties in the vicinity. A woman was killed when a shelter collapsed on top of her and several other people required medical attention. Nearby in Anderson Street, a bomb fell in the middle of the road between Challoner Terrace East and West. It wrecked houses on both sides of the road and a number of people were trapped in the basements; some were dead when, after strenuous tunnelling and digging they were extricated. Severe damage was done to the Synagogue, some dwellings and the service mains in Ogle and Wellington Terraces.
At the other side of the Town Hall another bomb fell on houses in Broughton Road between Bolingbroke Street and Berkeley Street. It demolished all but one of the row of houses, the remaining one was beyond repair, the gas main was ruptured and both roads were blocked. Once again people were trapped in back-yard shelters and there were some fatalities among those dug out. Two further bombs dropped in Bent's Park Road but did not detonate, the road was closed to traffic until the Bomb Disposal Squad removed them on October 7th.
Between 21.28 and 21.43 the Percy Street, Derby Terrace area was the target for eight or nine bombs. Two fell in Percy Street, one of which wrecked ten houses at the corner of Readhead Street many houses previously damaged by bombing had to be condemned, people yet again trapped in shelters, the second bomb fell on the side of Percy Street nearest to the bridge, but as this ground had been cleared after earlier bombing the only damage was to a water main. At the junction of Isbella Street and Elizabeth Street a bomb fell in the middle of the road and the blast destroyed houses on each corner of the junction, it also fractured gas and water mains, electricity cables and a sewer, there were casualties there too. The LNER railway line near Garden Street was the next target, near-missed by two more bombs, one falling in a garden and the other in the St Hilda Colliery Yard, behind the Gas Works, but railway lines and points were damaged. There were no casualties.
A few yards away a bomb exploded behind the garage in St Hilda Street, it threw a number of light Army vehicles and cars about the parking area and damaged some sheds nearby, but there were no casualties.
In the five minutes between 21.37 and 21.42, three bombs fell close together at the junction of Derby Terrace, Isabella Street, Derby Street and the bridge. The gable ends of the Corporation Baths and St Bede's School were blown off. An air raid shelter in the school yard was destroyed, the foot of the Pulley Bank Bridge was badly damaged and St Andrew's Mission had to be condemned through shock wave damage. There were no casualties here either, but the main GPO telephone system was put out of action, disrupting communications for some, the main roads were blocked, with the obvious delays to Rescue, Ambulance and other service vehicles.
To add to the difficulties another one arose when at 21.40, a heavy bomb just missed the railway bridge at the junction of South Eldon Street and Temple Street, a crater 70' wide was made in the road and the buttresses of the bridge were damaged; overhead wires were brought down and gas, water and electric mains were affected. There were no casualties at this point, but a short distance eastward many people were buried in their surface shelters or in the debris when another bomb hit a block of tenements in South Eldon Street, eight flats were shattered and many severely damaged. The force of the explosion hurled shelters on to the crater lip and others in amongst the debris already lying there.
A short distance away, two more streets were hard hit when a heavy calibre bomb fell in the back lane between Lytton Street and H.S. Edwards Street, devastating twelve dwellings, most of the occupants were dead when, with great difficulty they were extricated by digging. The horror of this incident was made worse by the danger of flooding from a broken water main, which also impeded the work of Wardens, Rescue and Ambulance Parties.
At 21.55 two bombs fell on the Pier Approach, east of the Wouldhave Memorial the craters blocking the entrance to Sea Road, the railings and shrubbery of the South Marine Park were uprooted and much damage done to Parker's Cafe, the roof covering of the old 'Tyne' lifeboat and to the boat itself. The Wouldhave Monument was scarred by flying debris and the clock faces and mechanism were broken. A minute later a third bomb hit a block of houses in Pollard Street, five houses were shattered and many more affected by flying glass and bomb splinters, gas mains were damaged. Five people were trapped in their shelters but were rescued alive.
At 22.00 a bomb fell on railway lines near Crawford Street, scattering trucks and damaging garden huts and pigeon lofts nearby.
One of the heaviest bombs to fall in this raid fell on Queen Street between Station Approach and Mile End Road at 22.05. It demolished all the property on the north side, including Chipchase's Tripe Shop which had remained practically unaltered since 1832, and rear of Moorhouse's Furniture Store in Mile End Road. Many people were buried under the debris of ten or twelve houses. Some difficulties arose when the 80' diameter crater began to fill with water from a fractured main. Business premises in this part of King Street suffered as did outbuildings at the back. From the 'Kopf Ring' found on the lip of the crater it was judged that the bomb weighed about 1,800kg.
After this major incident, the last bomb of the evening fell in St Stephen's Churchyard, immediately behind Military Road and near a large block of flats, a number of graves were disturbed and property damaged but there were no casualties.
In addition to the two unexploded bombs in Bents Park Road, three unexploded AA shells were found in different parts of the town, one in Centenary Avenue, one in Barnes Road and the third in Francis Street. All were dealt with by the Bomb Disposal Squad. It is believed that the calibre of the 44 bombs that fell in this raid was between 1,000 and 1,800kg.
The value of 'Mutual Aid' was vividly demonstrated on this occasion. The ARP Rescue Service, which did magnificent work, was assisted in this heavy task by forty men from Gateshead, sixty from Newcastle and thirty from Sunderland. Divisional Aid was given to the firefighters and Police from neighbouring towns were drafted in to help with cordon and traffic duties. Help came from the Army, and Naval personnel from the Naval Base at North Shields, who assisted in the demolition work and the removal of furniture. The Hedworth Hall was opened to feed the people engaged in this valuable work. At noon the following day fire engines and other vehicles from all over the County could be seen parked along Dean Road, from the Regent to Chichester Crossing.
Casualties were: Sixty-eight killed including thirty-four men, twenty-two women and twelve children / one hundred and seventeen seriously injured including sixty-seven men, thirty-seven women and thirteen children / ninety-one slightly injured including fifty-four men, thirty women and seven children. Included in the above figures were one Air Raid Warden killed, two seriously injured and seven slightly injured / one Messenger seriously injured and one slightly injured / one Special Constable killed, one seriously injured and one slightly injured / one Fireman killed, three seriously injured and five slightly injured / two Firewatchers killed and one seriously injured.
About 2,000 people were rendered homeless, of whom 374 were accommodated in five Rest Centres. The Civil Defence Services were greatly helped by the demeanour of the inhabitants in this ordeal. It has been estimated that 240 dwelling-houses, shops and offices were destroyed at the time or had to be taken down later. Upwards of 2,000 suffered less heavily. Seven trolley and motor buses were more or less seriously damaged, but one of the Cleadon buses burnt in the Market Place was restored and used by the Transport Department for some years afterwards. This was the cost of South Shields' ordeal.
Northumberland.. HE fell in fields at Seaton Sluice.
Northumberland.. Tynemouth Borough.. Twenty-eight HEs fell, scattered over the Borough. Two people were killed by an HE at Beacon Street shelter and another by an HE on the railway at Hudson Street near the junction with Tynemouth Road. There was much damage to property, the gasworks was hit and supplies affected.
Sunderland.. Incident at British Ropes - Gloucester Avenue. Casualties:- Two seriously injured, two slightly injured.
Co Durham.. West Hartlepool.. Two HE in the Bede Grove area demolished five houses and six people were killed, three of them children.
Co Durham.. There was severe damage to houses, shops, a garage and several cars at Seaton Carew where six HE fell.
Co Durham.. Five HE fell between Graythorp and Seaton Snooks damaged a dock and 500 yards of the railway to the dock.
Co Durham.. Four HE fell harmlessly near a farm N of Port Clarence.
Co Durham.. Two UXB which fell in a corn field at Kibblesworth severed two overhead electricity cables which fell across the Pontop to Jarrow railway.
Yorkshire.. At Middlesbrough the LNER line was blocked by debris.
A Dornier Do 217E was shot down and crashed into the sea six miles east of Blyth at 20.30, the crew was picked up by a passing trawler and taken prisoner. According to S.E. Sterck, two German bombers were shot down this night by the leader of a Beaufighter Squadron, Wing Cdr D.G. Morris who was later awarded the DFC. Four Nazi airmen were captured at sea and landed at Alnwick.
Night 761. All times BST. Blackout begins: 19.11, ends: 06.41
Public Alert: 20.03, All-Clear: 22.32
Industrial Alarm: 20.50, Release: 22.06
Yorkshire.. Middlesbrough.. Bombs caused damage to Dorman Long property. Four houses in Tees Street and nine in Cowpen Bewley Road were made uninhabitable but were later repaired. Damaged roadways reinstated.
Day 764. All times BST. Blackout ends: 06.45, begins: 19.03
The first British Restaurant in Newcastle was opened at the Grand Assembly Rooms, Barras Bridge by the Duchess of Northumberland. Her Grace and a large company, on the invitation of the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, had a three course lunch similar to that to be served to the public daily from noon to 2.30 p.m. at the cost of one shilling. The menu was Soup 2d (1p) - Meat with 2 Veg 7d (3p) - Sweet 2d (1p) - Cup of Tea 1d (½p).
Day 765. All times BST. Blackout ends: 06.47, begins: 19.01
21.23 - 22.20.. Tyne Dock.. Two 'D' type PMs fell on the railway lines, one at LNER main goods line at Tyne Dock, 100 yards south-west of Wright's Biscuit factory; the other near Leam Lane bridge. The only damage was to the permanent way, some railway trucks and windows in the vicinity, no casualties.
Night 767. All times BST. Blackout begins: 18.56, ends: 06.52
'HM Motor Launch 288' foundered off Hartlepool.
Day 770. All times BST. Blackout ends: 06.56, begins: 18.49
Sunderland.. Was reported to have been raided.
Night 770. All times BST. Blackout begins: 18.49, ends: 06.58
'SS Glynn' (1,134t) cargo ship, London to the Tyne was damaged by German bombers off Lowestoft and had to be sunk by the Royal Navy.
Day 771. All times BST. Blackout ends: 06.58, begins: 18.46
23.25.. Northumberland.. Single HE in quarry one mile W of Allendale on Oustley Farm, Keenley [NY816566]. Crater 30' diameter and 20' deep. Slight damage to door and windows in a nearby farmhouse.
23.35.. Co Durham.. Three HEs in Chopwell Woods, no damage or casualties.
00.11.. Hull.. Four HEs were dropped across Humber Dock. Some railway damage. Two people were seriously injured.
Bombs reported over widespread areas in Yorkshire.
Night 771. All times BST. Blackout begins: 18.46, ends: 07.00
Public Alert (Newcastle Warning Dist): 23.07, All-Clear: 00.35
Industrial Alarm: 23.12, Release: 23.20
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 20.43, All Clear: 22.53
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 23.02, All Clear: 02.58
Public Alert (Hull Warning Dist): 03.30, All Clear: 03.59
Northumberland.. Tynemouth Borough.. Damage was done to St Georges Church, Cullercoats from the cable of a drifting barrage balloon.
Day 773. All times BST. Blackout ends: 07.02, begins: 18.41
Teesmouth area raided, slight damage.
Night 774. All times BST. Blackout begins: 18.39, ends: 07.06
Public Alert: 03.35, All-Clear: 04.33
'SS Empire Ghyll' (2,011t) cargo ship, Sunderland to London, was sunk by a mine in the Barrow Deep, Thames Estuary.
Day 777. All times BST. Blackout ends: 07.10, begins: 18.31
A sharp attack on the North-East Coast. More than twenty-five places were affected in the North. On the Tyne two fires were started at Newcastle, and two people killed, while at Hebburn a first-aid post was damaged and thirteen people were killed. Further down the coast at South Hylton, Sunderland, there were two fatal casualties, while at Ryhope fires were started and a number of houses damaged, three people here were killed and two more lost their lives at New Seaham. On Teesside bombs at Stockton did little damage, but at Redcar, where two HE fell near the Municipal Buildings, ten people were killed and another seven, of whom the Mayor is thought to be one, are still missing.
21.00.. Newcastle.. Green flares seen at 21.00 north of "C3".
21.05.. Newcastle.. Four HEs weighing about 250kg dropped in Walkerville district. Distances between craters - 200, 100, 80 yards. As detailed below..
21.05.. Newcastle.. Single HE on 1012/1014 Shields Road adjacent to Briarwood Crescent. Two houses demolished, others damaged. Two killed in Briarwood Crescent. Shields Road was blocked and under water, water supply now turned off. Water supplies and telephones in Wallsend were badly affected.
Mr Eric Kershaw whose family lived at No 1012 Shields Road writes:
My father who was an Air Raid Warden, heard the siren and immediately got my mother (who was three months pregnant with me) into the shelter in our back garden and on his return to the house, to collect my two and half year old sister,( who was in her pram, in front of the fire in the rear downstairs room, with our dog lying beside her), when he heard the whistling of the bomb coming down, so he instinctively fell to the ground and some short time later unhurt, became aware that the house was no more. Eventually after searching through the rubble, he found my sister and the dog, both unhurt but covered in soot. By a miracle, the oak mantelpiece had fallen onto the oak table which had prevented the adjoining wall crushing them to death.
Unfortunately, the gentleman who lived next door, in the adjoining semi (1014) along with his friend, got blown to pieces. They were apparently playing cards in the front room, approximately 10-15 feet from where my sister and the dog were in our house, with a partitioning wall between the properties. The bodies of the two gentlemen were eventually found in Briarwood Crescent, although the head of one was recovered from the back garden of 1014. The car (that had been in the garage, attached to the side of 1014) was lifted up into the upstairs bathroom. The piano belonging to 1014 was buried at the bottom of the bomb crater as it was to difficult to remove, so perhaps some day in the future it may be found, no doubt along with other household items.
Two days latter our dog ran away and my father and cousin searched for several days to find it, but it was never to be seen again.
Following this event, my parents then found temporary accommodation in Briarwood Crescent, until I was born in April 1942, then shortly after, we became lodgers with the lady and gentleman who lived across the road at 1013 Shields Road. We remained at this address until 1946 when 1012 was eventually rebuilt.
The house was sold in 1974 and is still there today, although I am sure the present owners are unaware of the history.
21.05.. Newcastle.. Single HE on Shields Road near Skew Bridge blocking the road - diversions east and west via Appletree Gardens. Large crater. Railway track out of alignment.
21.05.. Newcastle.. Single HE on allotment ground at the rear of Westbourne Avenue and 134 Whinneyfield Road. Greenhouse damaged.
21.05.. Newcastle.. Single HE on 136/138 Whinneyfield Road. Three houses demolished and others damaged.
22.00.. Newcastle.. NFS attended fire at some railings of St Anthony's Church - thought not to be caused by enemy action.
Co Durham.. Stockton on Tees.. Two HEs on Malleable Works off Portrack Lane causing no damage. Factory was making heavy bomb (4000lb) casings, anti-torpedo equipment and Morrison table shelters.
20.30.. Co Durham.. Great Usworth.. Two HEs dropped - two houses damaged - no injuries.
21.00.. Co Durham.. Newton Bewley.. Two HEs dropped, damaged farm buildings.
Co Durham.. Stockton-on-Tees.. HEs on waste ground outside sheet mills in Malleable Steel Works. Electric light and power cables brought down, telephone wires cut, water main damaged, damage to property, no stoppage of production.
21.05.. Co Durham.. Urpeth.. Four HEs fell in fields - slight damage to shop and residential property - no casualties.
21.05.. Co Durham.. Leam Lane.. Two HEs fell in field - partially blocking the A.185 with earth thrown up from a crater - road re-opened to traffic on morning of 22nd October, 1941.
21.05.. Co Durham.. Cleadon Hills, Whitburn, East Boldon.. Slight damage to houses and telephone wires. A horse was injured and had to be destroyed.
21.20.. Co Durham.. South Hylton.. Three people died and two were injured when two HEs fell and exploded. Three houses were demolished and many damaged. Five persons were rescued unharmed from a damaged surface shelter. A special constable was injured when engaged in rescue work. Several persons were rendered homeless but found accommodation locally.
21.25.. Co Durham.. Ryhope.. Three HEs, causing some fires, four men were killed at the pit head and eight were injured. A special constable was injured while on duty.
21.25.. Co Durham.. Seaham Colliery.. Two died, twenty were injured and a number of houses were damaged when two HEs fell at Seaham Colliery. A fire broke out at the Seaton Colliery Inn but was soon extinguished. The A.19 partially blocked but since been cleared.
21.25.. Co Durham.. On the Stockton - Sedgefield road.. Three HEs fell in a field [NZ392246].
21.25.. Co Durham.. Hebburn.. Two HEs. A Rescue and Demolition squad were buried in their demolished depot in the Council yard on Glen Street killing twelve of the squad, three others died in Charles Street, a First Aid Post at Newtown School was damaged. Twenty houses were demolished and forty damaged. Twelve were seriously injured and twenty-four slightly injured.
21.35.. Co Durham.. Thorpe Thewles.. Four HEs fell in a field near Wynyard, damage to windows and outbuildings.
22.17.. Co Durham.. Seaton Snooks.. Four HEs dropped - some damage to house property no casualties.
Yorkshire.. Redcar.. Nine of its leading citizens were killed when two HE fell near the Municipal Buildings and destroyed the Zetland Club Headquarters where eighteen of its members were. The dead included the Mayor of Redcar Alderman C. Harris, Mr Arthur Pickering, the chairman of the local bench and Dr Alfred Skirrow Robinson. Thirteen were seriously injured and seven are missing.
Night 780. All times BST. Blackout begins: 18.24, ends: 07.18
Public Alert: 20.29, All-Clear: 22.31
Industrial Alarm: 20.44, Release: 21.40
'SS Roslea' (642t) cargo ship, Lowestoft to Hartlepool, was captured by German forces. She was scuttled at Le Havre in 1944.
Day 787. All times BST. Blackout ends: 07.30, begins: 18.09
'SS British Fortune' (4,696t) tanker, Thames to Hull was sunk by German aircraft off Aldeburgh.
Day 790. All times BST. Blackout ends: 07.36, begins: 18.02
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