Thank you to Wilma Bolton for sending in this very interesting and moving story.
The night of the 13th March 1941 was clear and frosty with a full moon and the German Luftwaffe took full advantage of the light provided by it. Within minutes of the air raid sirens sounding, the drone of the heavy bombers could be heard approaching.
To the bombers flying at an altitude of 9000 feet, the full moon was a gift for it shone on the waters of the Clyde Estuary, the river, canal and docks and the reflection made it easy for the bomb aimers to pinpoint the targets.
The first bombs were small—50 kg high explosive oil bombs and incendiaries to start fires for the main wave of bombers en route from bases all over occupied Europe.
Before the night was finished the Luftwaffe had dropped 1,600 containers of 1 kg incendiary bombs on Glasgow. Each container weighed 70-250 kg; a total of 105,300 bombs.
The Clydebank emergency control centre received a direct hit, so the emergency services were working without any controlled guidance. Such was the enormity of the damage that emergency services had to be brought in from all over the West of Scotland.
Blantyre sent ambulances, motor cars, and of course Blantyre Men who went willingly to help. Two local ambulance drivers belonging to Blantyre first-aid party were severely injured and were transferred to a Glasgow hospital. Their names were James Paterson and Vincent McInernay.
A motor car belonging to a local Blantyre joiner, which had been on rescue work was destroyed, but his son who was in charge of it, escaped without injury.
Former Blantyre girl, Mrs Ethel Gillespie, daughter of Mr and Mrs William Park, 2 Forrest Street, Blantyre, was critically injured in the blitz and was brought home to her parent’s home where she died. Her husband was taken to hospital. A former Blantyre family Mr and Mrs Richard Davidson* were reported missing.
In Clydebank, 528 people died and 617 were injured that night. (An incredible number, putting the scale of the dead on home soil into perspective, 4 times as many people who died in the Paris atrocities of November 2015!)
Over 2 nights, 4,000 houses were completely destroyed, 4,500 severely damaged and 3,500 suffered serious to mild damage. Only seven houses out of a total of 12,000 remained intact. 43,000 refugees were sent all over Scotland. Ordinary men from all over the West of Scotland went that night to help the victims and among them were the men of Blantyre.
On the 29th March 1941 the following death announcement appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser, confirming the German bombs did indeed reach and hit innocent civilians.
“DAVIDSON.—Killed by enemy action, on 13th March, 1941, Mr and Mrs Richard Davidson, newsagents (late of Blantyre).—Interred at Lambhill Cemetery.”
Attached is an actual photo from Clydebank taken the very next day on 14th March 1941. It shows the sheer devastation that occurred in the city the night before.
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I remember Hughie Gibson he was in the first aid team with my dad