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Saturday, 17 March, 2001, 17:17 GMT
Town remembers victims of the blitz
Clydebank
Clydebank was devastated by the bombing
Those who died in the blitz of Clydebank have been remembered in a memorial service to mark the 60th anniversary of the bombings.

More than 1200 men, women and children died in the German bombing raids on Glasgow and its neighbouring towns during the Second World War.

More than 500 of the victims were in Clydebank.

The attack began late in the evening on 13 March, 1941.

Clydebank Blitz
Bombs rained down on Clydebank
A full moon lit the way as the Luftwaffe pathfinder squadron which had earlier targeted Coventry led wave after wave of bombers in a "blitzkrieg" against Clydebank.

Their targets were the shipyards and munitions factories which lined the river Clyde.

The yards were left in ruins - and less than 24 hours later more than 200 bombers returned, raining incendiaries and high explosives on the already decimated town.

History records that only eight houses were left undamaged.

To commemorate the anniversary a ceremony remembering those who lost their lives was held on Saturday at the communal blitz grave in Old Dalnottar Cemetery.

First Minister Henry McLeish and Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell were among more than 100 people in attendance.

Helen McNeill
Helen McNeill
Many of those who had lost family members paid their tributes, including one 81-year-old woman whose two baby sons were killed and whose bodies were never found.

For those 'Bankies' who survived Scotland's largest civilian loss of life, the memories are still vivid.

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.

"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.

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

But all 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.

"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 500, whole families had been wiped out and the industrial town had been flattened.

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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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