Operation Blitz on Clydebank

The 'Blitz on Clydebank' was a pair of German air raids on the shipbuilding and munition-making town of Clydebank in Scotland (13/14 March 1941).

As a result of the raids on the nights of 13 and 14 March 1941, the town of Clydebank was largely destroyed, and suffered the worst destruction and civilian loss of life in all Scotland. Some 528 people were killed, more than 617 were seriously injured, and hundreds more were injured to lesser extents by blast and flying debris. Over the course of the two nights, 439 German bombers dropped more than 1,650 incendiary containers and 272 tons of bombs, and out of a housing stock of about 12,000 homes, only eight remained undamaged, with 4,000 completely destroyed and 4,500 severely damaged. More than 35,000 persons were made homeless.

Clydebank’s production of ships and munitions inevitably made it a target for German bombing. The town’s major targets included the John Brown & Company shipyard, the Royal Ordnance Factory Dalmuir and the factory of the Singer Corporation. RAF fighters managed to shoot down two aircraft during the raid, but none was brought down by anti-aircraft fire.

To the immediate west of the town was situated Clydeside’s main Admiralty oil storage facility, covering 130 acres (53 hectares) at Dalnottar, and it was this area that the Luftwaffe’s target maps categorised as the primary target. Surveys after the raids listed 96 bomb craters. Eleven tanks were destroyed and seven were severely damaged, and the resulting inferno blazed for over four weeks.

Clydebank, to the immediate east, suffered badly as a result of its close proximity to the principal target area, and in 1941 was a small industrial town, some 2 miles (3.2 km) long with an occupied area of slightly more than 1.5 sq miles (3.88 km˛), and target discrimination was made difficult by the close mix of industry and housing.

Many industrial targets were severely damaged. Singer’s wood yard was destroyed and Singer’s main building was badly damaged. Rothesay Dock and John Brown’s shipyards suffered severe incendiary damage. William Beardmore & Co. lost furnaces and related industrial infrastructure. Schools, churches and built-up urban areas succumbed to incendiaries.