Town man’s memories of Clydebank night

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A MONTROSE man has shared his memories of the night of the Clydebank bombing and how the tragedy affected the town.

Douglas Anderson (85) recalls the fateful night clearly and describes it as one of the “biggest shocks to hit Scotland”.

The Luftwaffe raids over the nights of March 13 and March 14, 1941, caused the most destruction and loss of civilian life Scotland has ever seen.

Over 500 people lost their lives, while hundreds more were seriously injured. Only seven houses out of a total of 12,000 remained intact and 35,000 people became homeless.

Mr Anderson said: “When I was watching a documentary on television about the Clydebank bombings it brought back memories.

“That night I was doing night shift at Ogilvie the Potato merchants which was in the Mill Lane and Commercial Street area. Every worker took their turn to spend the night firewatching and sleeping on a camp bed in the offices.

“On Thursday night it happened to be my turn on duty. We could not sleep because of the noise of planes heading over the town going towards their target and the same again on their way back to Germany.

Mr Anderson, who was only 14 at the time of the bombings, said: “At the time we thought it was quite exciting and we wanted to know what was going on.

“There were two of us there that night but we didn’t know until the next morning what had happened when we asked around to find out what the noises had been.

“Hearing the noises at that time was strange to us but later on in the war we had quite a lot of bombing in the town like at Chivers and the High Street and one or two other raids on the town.

“The Clydebank bombing was one of the biggest things we heard going over the town. It was one of the biggest shocks in Scotland that night we were on duty.”

The following week the Montrose Review reported: “Anti-aircraft guns were in action when enemy aircraft visited an East of Scotland town last Thursday night. Earlier in the day a single Nazi plane dropped bombs at a place in North Scotland. There were no casualties.”

“Last Thursday night the Nazis carried out a nine hours’ blitz on Clydeside. The number of casualties, though serious, was stated not to be heavy. An AFS station was wrecked, hospitals and churches hit, and families were trapped in the wreckage of tenement.

“An enemy aircraft was believed to be in the vicinity of East of Scotland towns on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday night bombs were dropped on open ground near a village in East Scotland.”