The Newcastle Blitz refers to the strategic bombing of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England by the Nazi German Luftwaffe during the second world war. Close to 400 people were killed between July 1940 and December 1941 during bombing raids on the city.

Strategic target

As part of the Hitler’s War Directive #9 Newcastle, north Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside in northeast England were deemed important targets. The areas had important heavy industry including shipbuilding and busy docks sending coal to London and the south; there were also major railway connections to Scotland. Targets included the Tyne river bridges, the docks, Elswick steelworks, Swan Hunter's shipyard, Vickers Armstrong naval yard and Wallsend slipway.

Following the declaration of war against Germany in 1939 September over 30,000 people, mainly children, were evacuated from the city to areas including the Lake District and rural Northumberland.

Bombing raids

1940 — The first major raid on Newcastle and neighboring Gateshead came on 2 July 1940. The target was the High Level Bridge and 13 people were killed with further 123 injured.

Another raid on Newcastle came on 15 August 1940, when German bombers flew from bases in Norway and Denmark (heading for airfields). Though much of the attacking force was intercepted by British fighters a number of bombers dropped bombs on Newcastle and Sunderland.

1941 — On 25 April 1941, a force of German bombers attacked Newcastle and dropped high explosive bombs, incendiaries and a parachute mine. 47 were killed and dozens of homes were left uninhabitable.

A raid on 1 September 1941 caused a major fire at New Bridge Street Goods Station which burned for a week. The raid left 50 dead, 71 seriously injured, 140 slightly injured and over a thousand people homeless.

The last substantial raid on Newcastle came on 29 December 1941 with nine people killed in the Byker area. Smaller scale 'tip and run' raids by small groups or single bombers continued for the next two years.

Another air raid came for North Shields as W.A. Wilkinsons (used as an air raid shelter) was hit.

Newcastle, like other English cities and large towns at the time, had been expanding rapidly throughout the 1920s and 1930s with new housing being built in the private sector, as well new council housing to replace inner city slums. The damage to its housing stock caused in the Newcastle Blitz led to an acceleration in housebuilding across Tyneside after the war was over.