Clydebank counts the cost

I don’t think it was a successful operation as far as the Germans were concerned, for when you think of the massive amount of bombs dropped there was very little damage done to the war effort industries like the Shipyards and munitions factories along the Clyde. I don’t think the ships being built were seriously damaged and Singers, which was a massive munitions factory and a very big target only sustained the woodyard fire.

One view of the devastation to the residential areas of Clydeside.
One view of the devastation to the residential areas of Clydeside.
One view of the devastation to the residential areas of Clydebank.

Within the general area of Clydeside it was the town of Clydebank that bore the brunt of the the raids of the 13th and 14th. 528 people were killed and over 1000 seriously injured. But only 7 houses out of 12,000 were undamaged, the majority either destroyed or so badly damaged they could not be repaired – 48,000 people had been made homeless. The community of the town never recovered, it was years before any significant rebuilding took place and many people never returned. Artist Tom McKendrick researched the impact of the blitz and the aftermath on local residents:

It was terrible to see the town that you lived and grew up in disappear in two nights – they should have rebuilt the place to give the people a chance … they had paid dearly

See The Clydebank Blitz.

At the time the government’s initial assessment was more concerned with industrial production:


Whilst docks and shipbuilding yards were hit, the main effect on industry was indirectly caused by the heavy damage to the industrial dwelling area of Clydebank.

Of the Docks damaged, Rothesay Dock suffered most severely. Of the shipbuilding yards damaged, Aitcheson Blair’s will require complete reconstruction, whilst at John Brown’s the sawmill was badly damaged by fire and there was considerable damage to shops, but little to ships under construction. At Yarrow and Co.’s works, although the material damage was less, a direct hit on a shelterkilled 80 shipyard workers.

Singer Manufacturing Co.’s works also suffered extensively from fire; and at the R.N. oil fuel depot at Dalnottar eighteen oil cisterns were burnt out or seriously damaged.

The general damage to public services and industrial dwellings was less severe in Glasgow than in Clydebank, where there are very few houses fit for occupation, and where gas, water and electricity failed. Some 10,000 persons were officially evacuated and 15,000 left of their own accord, comprising half the industrial population. Water has however been restored to the principal industrial concerns and such houses as are habitable, and restoration of the electricity supply is nearing completion.

From the weekly Home Security Situation Report, 19th March 1941, see TNA 66/15/38. More detailed contemporary assessments of the damage to industry and casualty figures, from the Scottish National Archives and local newspapers, can be found at at the Glasgow City Council.

3 thoughts on “Clydebank counts the cost”

  1. My Great Uncle Duncan was in the shelter at Yarrows. According to my Dad, he generally resisted going into the shelter but that night, sadly, he did.

  2. I was at a concert on the other side of the river in Govan on the first night. Going into work in Shieldhall, from Lambhill, I saw the devastation and the raised Fire Station where my friend & I had sought temporary shelter.

    I will never forget that night, in spite of others encountered in England later in the war.

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