Monday, 14 March 2011

Seventy Years Ago

'Terraces', one of a series of Clydebank Blitz paintings by Tom McKendrick.

On the 13th and 14th March 1941, the German Luftwaffe bombed the town of Clydebank, near Glasgow. It was targetted because of the important work being done there - munitions and shipbuilding, mainly. 260 bombers came, in three waves, aided by a full moon and pretty much destroyed the town. In a town housing 50,000 people, only 7 properties survived undamaged.

The news of the blitz was largely kept from the wider public so that one young soldier, returning home on leave to surprise his family, knew nothing of the raid and arrived home to see his home destroyed and all of his family dead, except his father. How do you ever recover from a thing like that? The true death toll will probably never be known. The official figure is 529 but the actual figure is certain to have been higher than this.

As a Scot, I take the Clydebank Blitz personally but I have an even closer link, as my grandfather worked with the Auxiliary Fire Service and was involved in the efforts to battle the raging fires those two nights. He died before I was born and so I was never able to ask him about his experiences.

There was an excellent documentary on the BBC last night - I'll put the link here, though it will only be available for a week:

Clydebank Blitz

It was impossible not to be moved and angered by the personal stories of those two nights but mainly I was left with the realisation that this must be what it is like to be an innocent Iraqi during the "shock and awe" bombings, or to be a resident of Dresden during the huge bombing raid of '45. It never stops. The Germans may not be bombing us now, nor we them, but there are plenty of ordinary people enduring bombing campaigns of the magnitude, or worse, of the Clydebank Blitz. Why do we allow it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was a terrible, terrible thing. I didn't have family living in Clydebank at the time but of course anyone in Glasgow or Scotland knew about it. My granddad told me all about it. How terrifying it was. It does make you realise what people in war torn countries are going through. And we really shouldn't allow it.