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Air Raids and Evacuation
The biggest threat to Britons during the war was from air attacks. London suffered the most but other cities around the country were also attacked including Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. Scotland witnessed the first civilian casualties in the war with the German bombing of the huge Scapa Flow naval base in Orkney in March 1940. Edinburgh experienced bombing early in the war with the Forth Rail becoming a target for the Luftwaffe
‘When that bomb went off I had to run home to see if my mother's house was alright. It wis ok but the kitchen roof was down but ma auntie's house in Prince Regent Street, they were a top flat wi' young kids, it wis smashed to pieces. None of them were hurt.’
‘Ma father used tae watch the Messerschmitts fightin' each other, goin' across the
Forth. He used tae stand and watch them goin' over our head.’
‘I thought a bomb wis goin' tae come through the roof any minute.
‘We were in the shelter and everything went black and ma dad was out. If your business
or where you worked was anywhere near when there was a raid ye had to go there and
it wis called fire watching. Aw the guys had to take a turn jist tae make sure the
building didnae [catch] fire wi' an incendiary or something. He came back to the
shelter and he said, - The place is in a hell of a mess' ken. He had walked back
doon after the landmine had fell. There were chunks o' plaster and that fae the church
at the top o' the street. It had been aw damaged.’
‘Aw the shutters had been blown off and strewn across the room, every ceiling in the house wis brought down, the fly sweeps had left their bags of soot in the garret and when that happened everything wis covered in soot.’
How do you think it felt to see your country in such danger? Listen to the following extracts to find out how one person felt.
on October 16, 1939. Many other Scottish cities were the victims of enemy bombings - Aberdeen was the most frequently bombed city in Scotland, and Fraserburgh became known as Hell Fire Corner.
However, the worst attack happened on the night of 13-14 September 1941 when Clydebank and Glasgow were the victims of a massive blitz attack by over 200 German bombers. Clydeside was an obvious target as it was the site of a huge complex of industrial production and shipyards. Only 7 houses in Clydebank were undamaged, and 35,000 of its 47,000 people were made homeless. 300 people were killed that night.
By the end of the war Scotland's fatality list from enemy action totalled 2,298, with a further 2,167 injured and 3,558 slightly injured. There was also a lot of structural damage caused by the 250 enemy air raids.