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River of Fire: The Clydebank Blitz

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | River of Fire: The Clydebank Blitz.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    John Macleod(Author)

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Vibrating with endeavours for Britain's effort against the might of Nazi Germany, Clydebank was - in hindsight - an obvious target for the attentions of the Luftwaffe. When, on the evening of 13 March 1941, the authorities first detected that Clydebank was 'on beam' - targeted by the primitive radio-guidance system of the German bombers - no effort was made to raise the alarm or to direct the residents to shelter or flight. Within the hour, a vast timber-yard, three oil-stores, and two distilleries were ablaze, one pouring flaming whisky into a burn that ran blazing into the Clyde itself in vivid ribbons of fire. And still the Germans came; and Clydebank, now an inferno, lay illuminated and defenceless as heavy bombs of high-explosive, as land-mines and parachute blasters began to fall ...With reference to written sources and the memories of those who survived the experience, John MacLeod tells the story of the Clydebank Blitz and the terrible scale of death and devastation, speculating on why its incineration has been so widely forgotten and its ordeal denied any place in national honour.

'A valuable account of the traumas suffered by Clydebank.' --BBC History Magazine

4.4 (12655)
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Book details

  • PDF | 352 pages
  • John Macleod(Author)
  • Birlinn Ltd; Revised & Expanded ed. edition (1 Sept. 2011)
  • English
  • 5
  • History

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Review Text

  • By brownie on 30 November 2015

    The Clydebank blitz has always been at the back of my mind. My grandfather was in the fire service in Edinburgh and was called to help- all I know is he fell through floors in a tenement building - I know no more as he died in 1988.I knew so little of this part of world war 2 yet I was brought up in Edinburgh and knew so much more of the London blitz - which sometimes is portrayed as though apart from Coventry this was the only blitz. This feels a little like the Bethnel Tube disaster two years later - where people were told to go home and not talk about this.The author has written this with a great deal of thought, research and compassion for those who survived and those who sadly lost their lives.Reading through the accounts hindsight is a great thing to have but as an investigator of hospital incidents the predictable occurred, lessons from London were not shared, no forward planning and when other fire services arrived there was no standardization so this delayed and probably caused more fatalities. We will always be governed by people who know best, but as with London there appeared to be more forward planning.I found the history of the area and politics really interesting and aspects I was not aware of - again my world war 2 history did not extend to my home country.I found myself looking for my grandfather - so many questions and so much respect for those who were involved.The author has not gained in monetary terms as the proceeds go to the asbestos group. - working in Bradford I have experience of caring for patients with mesothelioma and other lung related disorders.I urge readers to read this - not to let this be forgotten and to ensure this does not go to the back of the cupboard of history.A very haunting story of a almost forgotten blitz.Thank you John for writing this book.

  • By Steven Colquhoun on 23 May 2017

    Well worth a read and great accounts of people who have been put in a desperate situation due to their town being bombed. Some of it is truly heartbreaking. This book does not just focus on the bombing of Clydebank and it discusses Clydebank before and after the war.

  • By Mr. G. Pearson on 6 June 2017

    Its a bit early to write a review as I am just over half way through this book. Very well written, packed with facts. Anyone who has lived in Glasgow will be riveted to this book. John Macleod as always is a very interesting writer.

  • By G.I.Forbes on 13 March 2013

    ~This excellent book describes Clydebank before during and after the 2 day blitzkreig of 13-14 March 1941 that totally destroyed the area killing hundreds and demolshing nearly every building.This air raid was the most fiersome on any town or city in Britain during WW11.An extensive casualty list is given but it is acknowledged as incomplete as soms bodies were never recovered.A truely remarkble book covering a period I remember well.

  • By Dr. David Griffiths on 25 January 2011

    If one reads standard WW2 histories or watches television programmes about the conflict it is possible to believe that the Blitz was something which only happpened to London and Coventry. Sometimes Liverpool and Birmingham get a mention but non Scots can be forgiven for not realising the extent of the destruction caused to Scotland, particularly Clydeside. While Glasgow, Paisley, Greenock and many other Scottish towns and villages suffered, Clydebank was all but obliterated. In proportion to its size it was the most severely bombed place in Britain. John McLeod has done a valuable service by producing the most comprehensive account to date of Scotland's greatest man-made disaster. This is no sterile tale of the bombing in isolation; instead Mr McLeod gives us a fascinating social history of the West of Scotland and puts the events of March 1941 into their proper context.The book isn't without its flaws. Mr McLeod's occasionally overblown prose style can grate. By way of example, in one particularly florid passage he describes a conflict between a Defiant nightfighter and a German bomber thus: "They thundered after the bomb-laden Ju-88 in their silly little plane, blazing away, over north Ayrshire, over Glasgow itself. North of Maryhill, a farmer below heard machine gun fire and saw the German aircraft wallowing overhead, bleeding fire." (Oh please...!) In other pieces of purple prose we read about the sea "slithering with U-boats" and we're told that three railway lines "ran exuberantly" (eh?) through the town. (Incidentally, a Scottish train in 1941 was driven by an engine driver, not an "engineer"). The Clydebank story as Mr McLeod tells it is fascinating and horrifying enough without the unnecessary linguistic excess which, for me at least, only served to irritate and get in the way of the narrative.There are also a some surprising errors, not least the reference early in the book to the RAF bombing of Dresden having occurred in March 1945 although the correct dates, 13/14 February 1945, are given later. Mr McLeod claims that "probably close to 135,000" people died in Dresden but reliable sources quoted by Frederick Taylor in his definitive 2004 book "Dresden Tuesday 13 February 1945" put the figure at around 25,000. This is still a frightful number by any standard but at least it isn't inflated by subsequent Nazi/Communist propaganda. This information is readily available and it is difficult to understand why Mr McLeod accepts, apparently without question, a totalitarian myth. In an extraordinary piece of carelessness Peenemunde, the German rocket research centre, is transposed from the German island of Usedom to, of all places, Norway.Minor reservations apart, this is still a fine book and an extremely important contribution to Scottish social history. I should perhaps declare a small personal interest. In 1944 my late father became the minister of the South Church in Bonhill which Mr McLeod mentions as one of the main centres to which the bombed out "Bankies" were evacuated. The bombing and evacuation was still a subject of everyday conversation and I heard many stories second-hand from my parents. Thanks to this book I now have a much fuller understanding of the dreadful events I learned about in my childhood and for that I am very grateful.

  • By M. McCall on 11 February 2015

    Bought on behalf of a family member.Apparently it's a very decent read.

  • By trueblue on 26 November 2012

    too much history people who read these books are bankies and generally know about their town . just too much bumph you almost read one third of the book before you reach the blitz.

  • By kenneth macaulay on 2 January 2017

    Probably the definitive account of the Clydebank blitz an event from which the town never really recovered .My late grandfather was a volunteer fireman and when they arrived could do nothing to put the fires out .On the same night my Aunties in Patrick narrowly avoided death when a parachute mine blew an entire tenement to pieces at the side of the Helensburgh rail line.John as ever writes very well and describes events in grim detail --not a book you will put down quickly


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