Bombs over Glasgow in WW2

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HMS Sussex

Postby peter » Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:15 pm

This was from someone who lived in Govan at the time.






Sinking of HMS Sussex, 1940
Posted on September 27, 2005 at 08:47:09 PM by Sam

A couple of years back there was an exchange of postings here concerning the sinking of HMS Sussex during the war at Yorkhill Quay across the water from Harlands' yard in Govan. The article shown here was written by Peter Petts (peterjpetts@aol.com) and obtained from the website 'ourglasgowstory' (there are actually two postings dealing with this sinking). Peter's article is very interesting and may be of interest to some other Govan people.
H.M.S. Sussex, September 1940
The early morning of 18 September 1940 is a time I shall always remember. I was a 19 year old R.N. Able Seaman and had been onboard H.M.S. Sussex since October 1938. I therefore knew pretty well every part of the ship.

"Sussex" was in Glasgow being prepared for Murmansk Convoy Duty and was having last minute repairs in the engine room. A few deck plates had been removed to allow access, and a bomb dropped right through that hole.

It went through the lower and platform decks and burst in the engine room near oil fuel tanks. Four members of the crew were killed, and twelve others died later of wounds. The lower deck at that point was destroyed, fire and bilge pumps were put out of action, the fuel tanks caught fire and flames were soon spreading fore and aft. But the worst part was the fact that all the magazines were full of ammunition, torpedoes, shells and depth charges, as well as eight torpedoes in the tubes on the upper deck. If the fire reached the magazines, a large part of Glasgow would have been threatend with death and destruction.

The crew that was on board that night started to fight the fire, but due to the lack of the fire and bilge pumps as well as the thick black oil fuel smoke, we were struggling. However, the Fire Brigade soon arrived and we, the Navy lads, were glad to have some help. We got more than that. They took over and soon had pumps going and water being sprayed just where it was required in the fire.

I was ordered to help the firemen by guiding them around the ship and assisting with the hoses. It was a long, dirty and scary night. The plates were buckling with the intense heat and black slippery oil was everywhere.

Quite a few, including Navy men, were sent to the Western Infirmary with severe burns; and it was then noticed that the torpedoes in the tubes were getting very hot and would probably explode with the heat. Although we tried to pull them out it was a hopeless task, and all we could do was to spray them with water to keep them cool!
It was then that the Fire Chief called for the Vehicle Ferry to be used as a fireboat, and they manned it with fire engines. She arrived about 5.30 a.m. on the 19th, and soon had sixteen powerful water jets playing on the "Sussex".

It was not until the 19th, 23 hours after the bomb had hit, that the fire was brought under control and the ship was sunk alongside the wall so that she was flooded to extinguish the blaze and prevent any explosion of the ammunition.

I believe it was in the early hours of the morning that some of the tenements and a Children's Hospital were evacuated, but strange to tell, the story of the "Sussex" being nearly destroyed in the heart of Glasgow was kept secret 'til long after the war had ended. Even we Navy Lads were told "not to discuss it", so we didn't.

The bit that amused me most was that when we were returned to Chatham Naval Barracks we were given "7 days Survivors leave" having lost our ship while she was tied up alongside in Fairfield's Yard!!
I do remember a Salvation Army man that came and set up a mobile canteen on the quay and was handing out cups of tea and beef extract not too far from the ship even though the fire was raging. I believe the poor chap was killed shortly after in a road accident.

In 1990 I received an invitation from the Lord Provost and Glasgow Council to attend a Civic Dinner in the City Chambers for the "Sussex Association", during which the Strathclyde Fire Master quoted, verbatim, from the Confidential Fire Report of October 1940 concerning the "Sussex" fire. Perhaps, after all this time, that report might still be available, which would further add to the story, as I am sure that after all these years my memory can only provide a part of the story.


Replies:
Re(1): Sinking of HMS Sussex, 1940 - By Phil9Ayr)
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Postby ozneil » Sat Mar 04, 2006 2:46 am

The early morning of 18 September 1940 is a time I shall always remember. I was a 19 year old R.N. Able Seaman and had been onboard H.M.S. Sussex since October 1938. I therefore knew pretty well every part of the ship.

"Sussex" was in Glasgow being prepared for Murmansk Convoy Duty and was having last minute repairs in the engine room. A few deck plates had been removed to allow access, and a bomb dropped right through that hole.



Either date is wrong or reference to Murmansk Convoy is incorrect USSR & Germany were not at war up until June? 1941 when Hitler invaded USSR
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Postby Apollo » Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:37 pm

Referemce to Murmask convoy I think, as the refit date is in Sussex' history.

Found this
The first convoy to Russia--six English ships and one
Russian--sailed from Scotland in August of 1941 and delivered 15,000
tons of cargo without incident.
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Postby escotregen » Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:05 pm

Trying to verify the exact date that the HMS Sussex was bombed and sunk has been fascinating. Essentially, I’m now persuaded that the bombing did happen around the 18th September 1940 and not the November date. My enquiries underlined problems when depending at times on personal anecdote and memory. For example in contrast to the above quoted version on theglasgowstory there is:

“On 21st September 1940 there was an air raid about two in morning. We went downstairs to shelter in the close with all the neighbours. All clear sounded and we returned to bed. Later that night while we were sleeping and didn't hear any warning. We were woken up by a noise outside of sailors shouting and screaming and then the police and told to "get out, get out there's a boat on fire and it's full of ammunition."
We realised that a boat was on fire and likely to explode. We didn't know where to go and went to Partick to an aunts house. Churches and halls and schools were opened up for people who had to get out of their houses. The boat was flooded and sank to bottom where it lay about 45 degree angle. We heard that it was HMS Sussex a light cruiser”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A5955276


‘Today in History’ cites: “September 17 1940 - In a night raid on Clydeside the cruiser HMS Sussex is damaged”

But there are some real oddities - The Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives references include: “HMS SUSSEX until sunk 1942”!!

But one of a number of convincing wee asides is on a Port Glasgow photo archive site and refers to a photo of “Ferry boat no 3…In September 1940 she went alongside the blazing HMS Sussex to assist in the fire-fighting at Yorkhill Quay

So it's September around the 18th I’m going for. Meantime, my original online source turns out to be a German organisation who are taking this very seriously and welcome any correction/ clarification I can offer.
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Postby Socceroo » Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:29 pm

All the newspapers who gave a report on the HMS Sussex bombing following censorhip being lifted at the conclusion of the war, cite it as being the 18th September 1940.

The Daily Record, despite censorship, actually gave scant details of the evacuation following the raid which hit the Sussex in September 1940.

Next question on the subject of HMS Sussex, is did the ship sink following being badly damaged, or was it scuttled to flood it and extinguish the fires before the magazines went up?

The reports which have the "wrong" date go with scuttling, the newspaper reports which go with the 18th September 1940 date, say it was sunk due to damage.
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Postby Apollo » Sun Mar 05, 2006 8:38 pm

Another opportunity to hone the searching skills :)

In answer to the the sink/scuttle question, a photo of HMS Sussex, where she is described as "capsized after being bombed".

The site's unlinkable, so you'll have to type to see it :roll:

Go to http://www.world-war.co.uk/

Enter HMS Sussex in the box beside Pic Search button, then click it.
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Postby Socceroo » Sat Mar 11, 2006 9:54 pm

This Monday March 13th is the 65th Anniversary of the first night of the Clydebank Blitz.

Image

Graham Avenue War Memorial
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Postby HollowHorn » Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:00 pm

Socceroo, I lived in Graham Avenue from age 9 till age 15. The memorial you show is situated directly across the road from the "La Scala" Cinema, the irony is that the building was packed with Bankies on the night of the bombings, happily the Luftwaffe missed it. The "La Scala" can be seen below.

Image

http://www.tommckendrick.com/code/list1.htm

http://www.tommckendrick.com/code/blitzmap.htm

http://www.wartimememories.co.uk/answer4.html

The Subway in Partick:
During World War II, the system was closed for 136 days, when a German bomb exploded on Beith Street bowling green, near to Merkland street station, and damaged the tunnels underneath. The scars are still evident of this today, traveling between Govan and Partick stations, where the tunnels change from cast iron segments to partly brick; this was the site of the bomb explosion.
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Postby Socceroo » Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:57 am

I finally got a hold of, amongst other documents, the casualty lists for the bombing of Glasgow during WW II. Interesting and surprising stuff.

The list gives details of all the locations of bombs which fell over Glasgow during WWII which resulted in fatalities.

I am still reading through it, I'll post up some facts and figures etc once i have sorted through it, however it would appear from an initial scan through that :

Over the nights of 13th and 14th March 1941 (Clydebank Blitz), Glasgow actually had more fatalities than Clydebank, albeit the Clydebank raids were more concentrated.

The Luftmines dropped with parachutes by the Luftwaffe had a devastating effect, and really there was no real shelter or defence from these horrific weapons for up to a half mile radius. In many instances where Luftmines landed they accounted for dozens of fatalities in the one location.

Also on many occasions where these mines fell, they accounted for the death of many members of the same family with the same surname. This happened five or six times in Glasgow with generations of entire large families wiped out.

The Luftmine terror was kept out of the press due to war time censorship, but the resultant situation which was the renewed calls for deep Haldane Shelters by the Socialists, instead of the Government preferred surface shelters, is well documented.

This was an argument which had initially been going on at the start of the war. The government stated that the Luftwaffe would be more likely to drop incendiary bombs on civilian areas, therefore better to have people in surface shelters where the could quickly come out after the raids and help deal with fires.

Also from the records that i have obtained, another interesting point is noted.

If a street or building was devastated by bombing and fatalities resulted, in some instances when the street was rebuilt the house / dwelling number changed.

An example of this i believe is No. 2 James Gray Street off Deanston Drive, which was bombed with a Russian immigrant family killed as a result.

When the damage was repaired / rebuilt the street then started at No. 4. This is not too far away from where i live, i'll need to check this out to see if it is still the case.
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Postby ninatoo » Thu Mar 16, 2006 2:12 am

"Also on many occasions where these mines fell, they accounted for the death of many members of the same family with the same surname. This happened five or six times in Glasgow with generations of entire large families wiped out."

At the CWCG http://www.cwgc.org/ some of these have been noted as "Civilian' deaths. I was researching one of my family names there, and noticed a lot of Docherty people were wiped out. I have yet to connect them with my family tree, but it was very sad reading.

Nina
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Postby HollowHorn » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:19 pm

Excuse the detour, let's take a wee look from the Bombers side...This from an Australian site, obviously the Allies & Axis casualties must have been far greater, still.......

Killed in Action……………….. 51%
Killed in Crashes……………..... 9%
Seriously injured in crashes.... 3%
Prisoners of War……………... 12%
Evaders………………………….. 1%
Survivors unharmed…………. 24%


http://www.460squadronraaf.com/ (nice wee site)

Again, 'scuse the diversion.
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Postby My Kitten » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:33 pm

Can I be a devil too? Nobody seems to remember the number of Russians who died either? there may have been a couple...
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Postby HollowHorn » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:38 pm

My Kitten wrote:Can I be a devil too?

Goes without saying, tiddles.

My Kitten wrote: Nobody seems to remember the number of Russians who died either? there may have been a couple...

You are right Kitten, 20 million Russian war dead, no wonder they adopted the "Seige Mentality" Little wonder too that the USA scared the bejaysus out of them :roll:
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Postby Socceroo » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:54 pm

There may have been much more than 20 million war dead.

Some sources put it at over 40 million including civilians. I have visited a cemetary in Russia that had over 250,000 people buried in it from 1941 - 1942 alone.

Kind of puts things in context.
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Postby HollowHorn » Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:59 pm

Socceroo wrote:Kind of puts things in context.

Hard to put an image on that amount of folk, multiplications of Parkhead or Ibrox? How do you put it into manageable numbers?
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