World War 2: Clydeside bombing

Clydeside was a target during the Second World War because of the concentration of shipbuilding in the area.

In fact more devastation took place in Wartime Clydebank than in any other Scottish town. Intense bombing occurred on the 14th and 15th of March 1941 in the town of Clydebank.

George Kean, a 25 year old shipwright from John Brown's Shipyard in Clydebank wrote, 'Shortly after midnight, as I was saying, 'Who's next for a song?', we heard a rushing, rattling sound and next thing we were looking up at a red hued sky and shattered girders, and there was masonry heaped all around us.'

Stories such as these were common tales from the Clydeside area of Glasgow between March and May of 1941.

Though the 260 planes were meant to target the shipyards and industrial locations in the Clydebank area on those two nights in March, it was inevitably the housing that suffered the most damage. The population had grown recently and as a result the housing was overcrowded. Over 16,000 houses were completely destroyed and 35,000 were made homeless. Hundreds of shops were ruined and five out of eleven schools. Hospitals and churches were affected, as well as power and water supplies, roads and railways. The casualties were around 1,083, which was quite low due to the strength of the shelters available. Over the next few days most of the remaining population was evacuated to the neighbouring areas of Renfrew, Lanark, and Dumbarton. Remarkably, much of the industry survived and Clydebank continued to supply the country with much needed wartime manufacturing.

The high public morale and relatively low amount of panic was quite common in Britain during the Blitz. After those two nights, George Kean concluded, 'It was Saturday morning and I had to play football for Strathclyde Juniors against Shawfield. I borrowed a bike from my brother, cycled to Glasgow, played football and, after getting a cup of tea in the pavilion of Rosebery Park, I cycled to Renfrew Cross as I had to appear in the final of a crooning competition at the Co-op Dance Hall. I arrived on time only to find the hall was destroyed. What a drag! Denied fame and lost my goldfish through enemy action.'

Today the Titan Crane is a reminder of the shipbuilding industry that made the area famous and a fine vantage point to view the river.

More on the history of the River Clyde (Back to listing)