Category Archives: North East

15 May 1464 Battle of Hexham

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The “Traditional” interpretation of the battle.

Hexham was a short, but significant engagement in the Wars of the Roses resulting in the capture and execution of Lord Somerset, one of the main Lancastrian supporters and leading to the capture of King Henry VI.

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The Beaufort Company are a re-enactment group portraying Somerset’s men

After the battle of Hedgeley Moor, the Lancastrians failed to prevent the Yorkists from concluding peace negotiations with Scotland in 1463, and soon found that their northern base of operations was now threatened. It was decided to mount a campaign in the North of England to gather Lancastrian support before a huge force under Edward IV could muster in Leicester and move north to crush the rebellion.
The Lancastrian army moved through Northumberland in late April 1464 under the Duke of Somerset, and gathered support from Lancastrian garrisons until it camped near to Hexham in early May. A Yorkist force under John Neville raced north in vanguard of Edward’s larger force and the two sides met outside Hexham on 14 May 1464.

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The Beaufort Company marching from their camp

The Lancastrian camp was near Linnels Bridge over theDevil’s Water found slightly to the south of Hexham. The Yorkists crossed onto the south bank of the Tyne on the night of 12th/13 May and were by the morning of the 14th in a position to attack Hexham. Presumably the Yorkist advance was at speed, as despite warnings by their own scouts the Lancastrians had little time to prepare for battle.

It is thought Somerset rushed his forces to a site near Linnels Bridge and deployed his troops in 3 detachments in a meadow near the Devil’s Water, here he hoped he could engage the Yorkist army before it moved past him into Hexham. No sooner had the Lancastrians taken their positions than the Yorkists charged down from their positions on higher ground. Upon seeing the Yorkist advance the right detachment of the Lancastrian army, commanded by Lord Roos, turned and fled across the Devil’s Water and into Hexham, before a single blow had been struck. The remnants of Somerset’s force were in a hopeless situation, hemmed in and unable to manoeuvre; the Yorkist troops charged through the one opening at the east end of Linnel’s Meadow and engaged the bewildered Lancastrian soldiers.

Lancastrian morale collapsed, and after some token resistance the remains of Somerset’s army was pushed into the Devil’s Water by the Yorkist infantry. A chaotic rout followed, men either drowned in the river or were crushed as they tried to climb the steep banks of the Devil’s Water in the retreat towards Hexham. Most, however were trapped in West Dipton Wood on the north bank of the river and were forced to surrender when the Yorkists approached.

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Beheading of Somerset at Hexham

John Neville showed little of Edward’s concilatory spirit, and had thirty leading Lancastrians executed in Hexham on the evening following the battle, including the unfortunate Duke of Somerset and Lord Roos. Sir William Tailboys was captured and executed shortly after as he tried to flee north with £2000 of Henry’s war chest. On the loss of its leadership and bank roll, the Lancastrian resistance in the North of England collapsed. The capture of Henry at Bolton By Bowland, Clitheroe, Lancashire meant the rebellion was effectively over. There followed a relative period of peace until the Earl of Warwick’s defection to the Lancastrian cause in 1469 and the wars started anew.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hexham)

Hexham pages

There are two current interpretations of the battle/.  the positions are shown on the map.  The alternative interpretation is

There is an account on the Richard III Foundation page here

13 MAY 1944 RAF BOMBER COMMAND RAID ON LOUVAIN/ LEUVEN

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Aircraft of 419 Sqn RCAF line up

12/13 May 1944
Louvain: 120 aircraft – 96 Halifaxes, 20 Lancasters, 4 Mosquitos – of 6 and 8   Groups.3 Halifaxes and 2 Lancasters lost. The bombing was more accurate than on the previous night and considerable damage was caused in the railways yards.

One the same night the RAF also bombed Hasselt, ineffectively and carried out mining and intruder operations.  The total  effort for the night: 355 sorties, 14 aircraft (3.9 per cent) lost.  This appears to be the Bomber command war diary entry (whatever happened to the  Day by Day Bomber Command  Dairy entries?) pages? 

This was the second night in succession that Bomber Command had raided Leuven (knonw by Francophone Wallons as Louvain) On the night 11-12th the results had not been satiusfactory wioth the bombing scattered and little evidence of damage to the rail infrastructure. On The raid which started shortly after midnight on 13th May caused the following damage.

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Bomb Damage in Leuven.

 474 buildings in Leuven were completely destroyed, including a university building, three churches, two schools, thirty-seven factories, two buildings of city and a monastery. No less than 1300 buildings were severely damaged, including five university buildings, a church, four monasteries, eight factories and six public buildings (including the Palace of Justice and the Little Prison). A thousand buildings were slightly damaged.   In the parish of Wilsele 183 buildings were completely destroyed, 280 severely damaged buildings and 150 mildly affected panden.Te Herent 14 buildings were completely destroyed, 58 severely damaged and 80 slightly damaged. All bombing in 1944 together accounted

Damaged buildings in Leuven
Damaged buildings in Leuven

for the destruction of 634 homes and become uninhabitable for 1,166 homes on a total housing stock of 4,223 homes, about 25%. A large part of Blauwput had disappeared. The 15th century Chapel Blauwput was badly damaged as the Parish Church.

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Air Vice Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder

The Allied Commanders responsible for planning D Day were keen to use the strategic bombers of  Bomber Command and the 8th Air Force against targets which would delay rthe rate at which allied reinforcements could reach the Normandy battlefield.  These attacks would need to take place across Belgium and Northern France to conceal the site of the landings.  British Airman Arthur Tedder was Eisenhower’;s Deputy and credited with leading the transportation plan.  There were two obstacles in persuading the allies to adopt this plan.  Firstly he had to overcome the resistance of the commanders of the strategic air forces to switch from the targets they considered important,  Secondly, Churchill needed to be persuaded that the results would justify the casualties among the allied populations.

Churchill anguished about giving an order which would kill Belgians and Frenchmen.   Churchill made many decisions during the war which would result in the loss of lives which were to  some degree or other “innocent”.  He ordered the Royal Navy to sink the French Fleet in 1940, and the aerial bombing of German cities, containing civilians and foreign workers.  The decisions to bomb key points on the railway  system in Belgium and France bothered him more than most.  Alanbrooke’s diary entry for 5th April mentions “At 10.30, had to attend one of those awful  evening meetings with the PM.  We were kept up till 12.45 a,m. discussing use  heavy bombers to support the invasion. he is opposed to Tedder’s plan”.

The rais d was carried out by No 6 Group with aircraft from 419, 420, 425, 426, 427, 429, 431 and 432 Sqns RCAF.  Five heavy bombers were lost on this raid, two in the route in and one of the return.  One was shot down by flak and four by night fighters, at least three of these were by “Experten” Major Martin Dawes.

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419 Squadron Lancaster Bomber markings

419 RCAF appear to have the heaviest losses, losing two aircraft and 13 men dead.

Louvain May 12/13th 1944
Takeing off at 2155 and heading out to the target the crew and aircraft were shot down near Sint-Genesius-Rode which was 12 km S of Brussels. None of this very experienced crew survived. 
VR-W KB710
P/O H I Smith Pilot 22nd sortie 
F/O J Moore Navigator
F/O W R Finlayson Bomb Aimer
F/O W W Price Wireless Op.
Sgt. R Bull Field Engineer
Sgt. J C O’Connell Upper Gunner
Sgt. S G Livingstone Rear Gunner
VR-W ‘s crew was a very experienced one with many of them at the 16 operation mark. The Wireless Operator F/O Smith having a total of 22 trips. 
And
The crew of VR-X had P/O Edwards and F/O Campbell who were a quarter of a way through their tours while the other airmen were on their second or third operation. 
VR-X KB713 
P/O B F Edwards Pilot on his 8th sortie
F/O R R Campbell Navigator
F/S P Dewar Bomb Aimer
F/S R S Smith Wireless Op.
Sgt. J R Carruthers Flight Engineer
P/O J A Webber Upper Gunner
P/O H E Oddan Rear Gunner

419 Sqn RCAF were based at RAf Middleston St George.  This is now Teeside Airport. Photos here 

Leuven was rebuilt and its name appears on every can or bottle of Stella Artois beer, which is brewed there.

No one will know whether the Battle of Normandy would have been D Day invasion would have succeeded without the bombing campaign. The civilian and air force losses  are as much a part of the campaign as that of any infantryman storming ashore.

25 April 1464 Battle of Hedgeley Moor

Hedgely Moor 25 April 1464Today, 25 April 2014 is the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464, was a battle of the Wars of the Roses. It was fought at Hedgeley Moor, north of the village of Glanton in Northumberland, between a Yorkist army led by John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu and a Lancastrian army led by the Duke of Somerset. The Lancastrians tried to intercepot a Yoprkist force escorting a Scots delegation.  The ambush failed and the  battle ended in a Yorkist victory.  The site is  marked by a stone allegedly marking the point where a member of the Percy family made a leap on horseback to escape pursuit.

More here;

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If you would like to visit the site of the Battle of Hedgley Moor or other sites of the Wars of the Roses in the North East, such as the battle of Hexham 1464 and the sieges of Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles  Contact British Battlefields or are interested in promoting the military heritage of these battles please contact   info@british battlefields.com

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