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BBC Scotland's George Hume reports
"The two-day raid claimed over 500 lives in Clydebank"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 19:36 GMT
'Bankies' remember the blitz
Clydebank was devastated by the bombing
Clydebank people have been remembering the hundreds of townsfolk who were killed during the wartime blitz.

In 1941 waves of German bombers pounded the town in an attempt to destroy shipyards and munitions factories.

The two-day raid by the Luftwaffe flattened the town and left more than 500 people dead.

To this day it remains Scotland's biggest loss of civilian life in one incident.

Helen McNeill
Helen McNeill
This week the hundreds who lost their lives will be remembered by the town in a programme of commemorative events.

But for those 'Bankies' who survived, the memories are vivid and filled with sadness.

Local woman, Helen McNeill is one of those who clearly remembers the devastation left by German bombers.

"Every building round-about was down - firemen everywhere, hoses everywhere, tram cars halved in two, buildings burning, people shouting," she said.

Ann Holmes was only four-years-old when the Luftwaffe rained fire from the skies but she remembers the day that claimed the lives of 15 family members.

Ann Holmes
Ann Holmes
"When the all-clear sounded and we were all gathered together and came out of the shelter, my mum immediately looked towards where her family would have been," she said.

"That was just a rubble, devastated, down.

"She ran and started to try and dig them out with her hands - moving bricks with her bare hands."

But sadly Ann recalls, all of her mother's family had been killed when a bomb fell on their home.

Local man John Bowman, who was a soldier during World War II, was home on leave when he found his house in ruins.

He recalls going to a make-shift mortuary to find family members but in many cases it was impossible to recognise them.

John Bowman
John Bowman
"It was just row and row of dead people," he said.

"So I had a look round-about, I couldn't see anyone.

"Most of the bodies were unrecognisable anyway."

When the dust finally settled on two-days of devastation, the death toll had risen above five hundred, whole families had been wiped out and the industrial town had been flattened.

This week a programme of events will remember the human loss and the fortitude of Clydebank people in rebuilding the town.

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See also:

13 Mar 01 | Scotland
Picture gallery: Clydebank blitz
07 Sep 99 | World War II
Your memories
06 Jan 01 | Europe
WWII planes to fly again
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