Real stories, from real people - Clydebank people

From Elizabeth Richardson Savage
I remember being taken to the 'Kinama' I have not misspelt this, that is the way they pronounced it . It was 'up the hill' right side road. I suppose it was Kilbowie road . They always said it was 'up the hill' I was just 4 at the time and the movies were just becoming 'talkies' although we often saw silent ones. I used to go with my mother and her sister 'Aunty Maggie' Richford. My mother and Aunty Maggie used to love that movie star who was always a 'Sheik' ? Maybe I misspelt that one.

I also remember the Soup Kitchens very well. I ember standing in line with our the biggest jug my mother had to get the soup..... No welfare in those days!

They were always dragging the Canal for the men who had jumped in because they who could not find work....

From Dougie CampbellI was five at the time of the blitz and lived in Albert Road. I vividly remember during a lull in the bombing of looking out of the anderson shelter and seeing what turned out to be a stick of incendary bombs coming down on the house next door.

A bit later a land mine landed on the other side of Albert Road and left a huge crater which was there for years to come. We as kids used to use the gardens of the large houses which had been destroyed, as play areas.

My Uncle, Hugh Campbell was awarded an OBE for his work with the Ambulance Service. He apparently had little or no rest for 48 hours and helped save many people. We were very proud of him.

My mother was pregnant at the time and in fact my Sister was born 10 days later in Nerston, near East Kilbride to where we had been evacuated.

From Donna Smilie

Anyone else remember the night of the big storm in the late sixties? I was 10 or 11 at the time, and we were living on the top floor in the tenement flats on Kirkoswald Drive in Drumry.

I woke up around midnight to hear the wind getting stronger and stronger. I couldn't get back to sleep, and could see that the light was still on in the living room, so got up and joined my mother, who couldn't sleep either. As we sat there, we could hear the wind getting even louder, and eventually my mother brought my two sisters and my gran through to the living room, as she was worried about the risk of chimney pots flying off the houses behind us and coming through the bedroom windows at the back of the house. She was also worried about my father, a fireman, who was on duty that night. Only 15 minutes later, we heard a huge, tearing groaning noise, and the next second the living room window smashed in! The sheet copper had ripped off the roof, but had caught on the eaves and swung down and smashed into the window. Lucky for us my mother had pushed the settee against that wall to pin the curtains closed, since they contained most of the glass and stopped it spraying across the room. It gave us all a hell of a fright though!

She phoned the police to report the copper roofing as a hazard to any traffic in the area, and they advised us to get downstairs to the ground floor in the close, where they said we would be safest. We ran round knocking on all the doors in the close, telling all of our neighbours what the police had advised. As we all trooped down to the ground floor, the people in one of the ground floor flats appeared, having been woken up by the sound of glass breaking, and invited us all into their house. So we ended up, about 20 of us in total, spending the rest of the night huddled up in sleeping bags and blankets in their living room, listening to the storm raging outside and hoping nothing worse would happen.

Early the next morning, as the wind began to subside, one of the older lads ventured out to get some newspapers and milk, and came back reporting extensive damage everywhere, with huge jagged chunks of copper roofing still being blown about the street. As the wind died down further, we all moved back into our own flats, and we cleared up the glass from the living room. We later discovered that the roof of our block of flats was entirely blown away, though we were the only ones to suffer any direct damage.

My father eventually returned safe and sound, but he was very late back that morning -- they had been at full stretch all night, with the wind whipping every small fire to a strong blaze, and spreading sparks around wildly. I've felt twitchy ever since whenever the wind blows strongly at night time!

From Frank McGonigal

I was only 8 years old at the time of the Clydebank Blitz that happened on the 13 th and 14 th of March,1941. Time has dimmed the memories,but there are certain things that stick out in my mind. We were sitting at the kitchen table having a cup of tea about 9.00 pm when the air raid sirens went off.There had been so many false alarms that we tended to ignore them,as usually it was only a reconnaissance plane overhead taking photos.Then all of a sudden the bombs started falling,and as we lived on the one of the upper floors,everyone thought it better to go down to the ground floor.There was an air raid shelter in the back court,but I guess everyone figured it was too cold and dirty to go there.

We all crowded into the lobby of the ground floor flat of an old Irish woman,I was standing inside the coal bunker in the hall,it was so crowded.We could here the bombs and anti aircraft fire going on outside,then a blast from a bomb blew the door open and from then on two men leaned against the door to keep it closed,but every time a bomb went off it blew them off their feet,and the old Irish woman would say " Jesus Mary and Joseph save us "

There was a lull in the bombing,and my mother took me to the front of the close ( the opening to the street) to see what was going on,there were shells bursting in the sky,barrage balloons burning and falling,I was fascinated by everything,not realizing the danger I suppose.

Then the second wave of bombers came over,and we scurried back into the lobby again.This went on for a while,then some men came pounding on the door shouting " GET OUT,THE ROOFS ARE ON FIRE". It was only then that we sensibly went to the air raid shelter in the back court.I don't remember much of that night,but the next morning I remember walking down Granville St,or what was left of it,and it sticks in my mind as a very colourful dream like image.

There were still fires burning everywhere,the upper stories had collapsed to the ground floor and there was furniture,bikes and all sorts of stuff lying amongst the ruins.  The gas hadn't been shut off because the broken pipes were spewing jets of flame everywhere. Everyone was headed down the street because they had heard that there was a mobile canteen that was providing tea and rolls.I imagine it was 'Spam',we were to see a lot of that for a while. Then we were told that there would be buses to take us out of town to somewhere that we could live until we could find another place to stay.This turned out to be a school gym hall in Jamestown,which was west of Clydebank.

When we arrived there,they handed us a large bag which they told us to fill with straw which they provided,and that was to be our bed for the time being on the Gym floor. We had our meals in the school cafeteria,and you could here the chorus " SPAM AGAIN" very often when we discovered what the meal of the day was.

One day they came and told us we were being moved to another school because there was another batch of refugees coming in.They moved us to Alexandria,where they issued us with blankets which were infested with fleas and lice.

When I met my wife Frances in 1952, who by the way was also bombed out in Clydebank,we started talking about our experiences in the aftermath of the Blitz. I remember playing with a little girl on the sandbags outside of the school and she had a little dog,it turned out it was her !!

From Mary Dudgeon

I can remember the night they hit Clydebank because we all run out to the close mouth to see the sky lit up and someone said "They are bombing Clydebank, going for the shipbuilding most probably".

The memory always has stuck in my mind. We did not go into the air raid shelter as Mother thought they were too dirty and smelly, but we moved down to the ground floor of our tenement and slept in the Love family's house and Mother sat up all night drinking tea with their Granny Allen. We certainly did not have much but we know how to share with each other!