Documentary series examining the impact of four individual bombs during the Blitz. Episode three follows a bomb that fell on Jellicoe Street in the Scottish town of Clydebank.
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In September 1940,
death and destruction came to the streets of Britain
on a scale never seen before or since.
The noise was deafening - bang, bang, tremendous explosions,
one after another.
They called it the Blitz.
The whole city was aglow.
In the space of little over eight months,
more than 450,000 bombs rained down on British soil.
But in the midst of the chaos and confusion,
meticulous records were kept.
This is a bomb map. Every single dot is where a bomb landed.
Using this untapped archive, we'll identify individual bombs.
That's the bomb that you're looking for.
Oh, it is, yes.
With consequences which rippled out from the point of impact,
through the lives of people and beyond,
to help shape modern Britain.
Of all the houses that plane was flying over
and one bomb, why did it hit us?
In this episode, in one of the most brutal raids of the Blitz,
a bomb falls on Jellicoe Street,
in the Scottish town of Clydebank.
I thought war was always fought away in far, far places
and nobody got killed.
Until March the 13th, 1941.
Then I knew what war was all about.
This bomb, and others like it, shattered lives
and threatened total defeat...
..in a city already riven by class warfare.
Political activist, communist, commie,
oh, I think the Government thought my father was a troublemaker,
there's no doubt about it.
They were fighting for better pay and conditions.
They were fighting for security for their families.
It was just basic survival.
The people of Clydebank had to choose whether to stand together...
..or fall divided.
And it began with one bomb.
The aerial assault known as the Blitz
had been ravaging Britain for more than six months.
Across the country, dozens of cities,
ports and industrial centres
had been battered and burned by Luftwaffe bombs.
But north of the border, it was a different story.
Up to this point, Scotland had come through the Blitz
But its luck was about to run out.
Eight miles west of Glasgow lies the industrial town of Clydebank,
Some Bankies, as the locals are known,
dared to believe their town was
beyond the range of the Luftwaffe bombers.
But Clydebank's strategically vital industrial output
hadn't gone unnoticed by the Germans.
In the second week of March, 1941,
German reconnaissance planes had been spotted above the town.
Days later, on Thursday the 13th of March,
all was still quiet in Clydebank,
as people went about their normal business.
But life in this working-class town was about to change forever.
Little did the Bankies know that at that very moment
a fleet of more than 200 bombers was heading straight towards them.
In the tenement-lined streets, children were playing.
In Jellicoe Street, Brendan Kelly
was with his best friend, Tommy Rocks.
Tommy sat right there.
I was just this side of him.
And suddenly, Tommy looked up,
"Look at that moon," he says.
"If the Jerries come over tonight," he says, "they cannae miss."
So far, the war had brought jobs, not bombs, to Clydebank.
The town's skilled workforce had been kept out of the armed forces,
thanks to reserved occupation status.
Their contribution was measured by industrial output
for the British war machine...
..everything from battleships to submachine guns.
In the dockyards and factories,
fathers and sons worked side by side.
Shifts ran night and day seven days a week.
A trip down the Clyde affords the truest evidence -
at every yard are ships being built to the cheerful sound of riveting.
Heavy industry was in Clydebank's very foundations.
Established in the 1880s,
the industrial cornerstones of the town were the enormous Singer sewing
machine factory and the maritime giant of the John Brown shipyard.
Nothing but work, work, work.
We had the best shipyards probably in Europe,
and wherever else. We had it all here.
One ship after another was going out.
John Brown's 5,000 employees, Singer at its peak 40,000 employees.
That's a lot of people and a lot of social interaction.
Clydebank's industrial machine was served
by the densely populated
tenement-lined streets surrounding it, like Jellicoe Street.
Largely rebuilt after the war,
its original tenement blocks, like many others in Clydebank,
were constructed by employers to provide cheap,
convenient housing for their workforce.
Each block was four storeys high with two flats to a floor...
..built around an open stairwell
that ran the height of the building and was capped by a skylight.
Patrick Docherty was seven in 1941.
He lived a couple of miles from Jellicoe Street,
on Southbank Street,
in the shadow of John Brown's shipyard.
There was no doors closed in the tenements at that time,
and as children, when I'm going to meet you,
I just walk into your house,
and I could go into any house in the street and walk into it,
and we'd all know each other.
Cramped and communal,
tenement life could be rough and ready,
but for a child growing up here in the 1930s,
it was like being part of one big family.
That's what brought us all through that time, because there was no,
"You are this," or, "You are that," we are all together.
Just around the corner from Jellicoe Street was Scott Street,
where seven-year-old Jack Tasker lived.
Life was happy.
We lived two up the middle, which was a room and kitchen,
with an outside toilet, but it was fine.
It's not as if you knew anything else.
Two streets away, at six Kitchener Street lived the McDowell sisters,
Lilian, Kathleen and Janette,
with their parents Stuart and Edith,
and their brothers John and Stuart.
-We were born in Clydebank.
-Aye, we were born in Dalmuir West.
And my father was from Clydebank.
On the 13th of March,
a day that was soon to become infamous in Clydebank's history,
Lilian was seven, Kathleen six and Janette just a day old.
Running parallel to Kitchener Street,
facing the canal, was Jellicoe Street,
where the McDowells' grandparents and uncles lived at number 78.
And three blocks down, at number 60, was Brendan Kelly.
Good old Jellicoe Street.
Brendan was eight years old in 1941.
He was living in the ground floor flat at number 60,
with his mum and dad, and seven brothers and sisters.
It's been 75 years since Brendan lived in this street,
but his memories are still vivid.
Women used to come out and sit there
in their chairs in the summertime.
Come along here and they were chatter, chatter, chatter,
kids fleeing up and down the place.
I see Mrs Scanlan up there,
shouting down, "Jackie, come up, your tea's ready."
See the white building?
That's where the Rockses were.
Like the Kellys, the Rocks at number 78
were a big Irish Catholic family
occupying two flats in the tenement building.
Patrick Rocks senior lived in one with his mother-in-law,
his wife Annie and six of their children.
In the other flat was his son Patrick Rocks junior,
his wife and their five children -
16 family members in all.
Marion McDermid is a descendent of the Rocks family.
Her loft is filled with family history.
The Rockses were my great-grandparents.
I have a picture in here somewhere, which I'll try and find.
I don't actually know who's who in it,
all I know is that it's the Rockses, and this is Jellicoe Street.
The back of Jellicoe Street.
Francis Rocks, he was an iron driller.
Elizabeth Rocks, she was a mother.
That means she done everything.
There were 16 members of the one family lived in that close.
Thomas Rocks, he was at school.
13-year-old Tommy Rocks
was eight-year-old Brendan's best friend.
Tommy and I was great pals.
He was a wee bit older than me, and he looked after me.
He was my guardian.
Every Saturday morning, Tommy was in our close,
and he always sang,
"When Irish eyes are smiling and the ham is on the pan,"
and he would rap the door, "Mr Kelly."
"Yeah, what is it, Tommy?"
"Can Brendan come out?" That was us.
You had your breakfast, now away you go out and play.
The children of Clydebank's tenement homes lived right next door
to prime strategic targets.
But after more than 18 months of war,
the wails of the air raid sirens had mostly been false alarms.
I thought war was always fought away in far, far places,
and nobody got killed.
That was only in films people got killed.
Until March the 13th, 1941.
Then I knew what war was all about.
As I say, I went to bed at night a boy and wakened up a man.
At around 7:30pm on that Thursday night,
British monitoring stations detected powerful radio beams
emanating from Nazi-occupied Europe...
..directed toward Scotland.
Luftwaffe pilots used these beams to guide them to their targets.
War was coming to Clydebank.
As Bankie families were getting ready for bed...
..the air raid sirens started up.
This time, it was no false alarm.
My mother came flying in the door and she says,
"I don't like the sound of this tonight,
"never heard the siren so loud."
The invisible radio beams were directed at Clydebank.
And the menacing drone of more than 200 bombers
loaded with high explosives and incendiaries could now be heard.
She says, "Go upstairs," she says, "and get all the neighbours,
"bring them down here."
Looked at my sister and I says to her,
"If my mammy is going to die here,"
I says, "I'm going to die with her."
All over Clydebank, families rushed to take cover.
In Jellicoe Street and the surrounding area,
some headed to air raid shelters, but many stayed inside.
Sheltering in ground floor flats,
or at the bottom of stairwells,
believing the tenement's thick, reinforced walls would protect them.
When the siren come on, we started to go into the hole...
-You close the curtains.
-The folk up the stairs,
went for the two bottom houses and we all lay in behind.
-Under the table, you know.
We went down the stairs to the bottom flat into Mrs Walker's lobby,
they got a wee stool for me and I sat on this wee stool.
As the bombs rained down,
Brendan's family decided to make a dash for the air raid shelter in the
backyard of 60 Jellicoe St.
Come right along this wall like that.
Down the two wee steps.
We just ran straight across to the shelter.
There must've been flames all around.
I didn't see flames.
All I saw was a shelter and I was heading straight for it.
Just down the road,
the Rocks huddled together in the ground floor flat of number 78.
Directly behind them, in Kitchener Street,
another branch of the Rocks family
sheltered in their ground floor flat.
Among them, was Marion McDermid's mother, Ann,
just four years old at the time.
She later wrote an account of that terrifying night.
People were hiding under the kitchen table,
children crying and wetting the floor in fright,
other people being sick.
During all the commotion, my mother's brother John
came into the house.
He called to make sure we were all right.
I was very frightened and asked my uncle
why the sky was red, as it was night-time.
He told me God was polishing up the sun to make it a nice day tomorrow.
By now the bombs had been falling for nearly three hours.
At some point a high explosive bomb was released.
It made its screaming descent through the night,
heading towards Jellicoe Street.
Some of the men stood out in the close and shouted,
"Here's one coming."
It struck the skylight on the roof of number 78,
continuing its calamitous fall into the stairwell directly below.
All of a sudden the ground moved.
It was like being on an escalator,
and you could hear a kind of...
Obviously it was the earth moving under us.
My father, he looked out, he could see the big gap here, he says,
"It's a building that's down," he says.
He turned around and he says to my mother,
"Rockses' corner is down to the ground."
"Oh," she says, "I hope," she says, "they got out."
My mum as a child can still remember
seeing her mother screaming, running
across the back court pulling with her hands,
clawing at the dirt and the rubble to get to her family.
And it must have been terrible.
I happened to look up and I seen all these sacks,
and I says to my brother, I says, "What's that?"
He says, "It's dead bodies," he says.
As they pulled the bodies out of the debris,
and put them into these sacks.
The bomb that destroyed 78 Jellicoe Street
is designated as Bomb 187 on the official bomb map.
It killed everyone inside the tenement block...
..31 people in all.
Men, women, children.
Among the victims were
the McDowells' grandparents and two uncles.
The sisters still vividly recall the scenes of chaos and confusion when
they emerged from their own tenement block in Kitchener street,
directly behind Jellicoe Street.
My father was shouting all the time,
and it was to keep us from looking about,
and he was shout, shout, shouting because...
There must've been bodies.
Bodies and everything as we were walking.
The building was blasted forward,
and blasted back and it was a grievous site.
You know, when the rescuers arrived on the scene,
to see so many dead people who were blasted out in to the canal
and all across the road here.
Tom McKendrick's mother Rachel was a nurse,
and that night she was helping in an improvised casualty centre.
And she said, "It was horror beyond your wildest dreams,
"people burned and people had lost legs and arms."
Numbered among the dead that Friday morning
were 15 members of the Rocks family from 78 Jellicoe Street.
This was one of the greatest losses of life from a single-family
during the entire Blitz.
I think to think that my granny lost all her family in the one day,
it must've been horrific.
To lose one person is bad enough,
but to lose 15 all in the one go.
Brendan's best pal, Tommy Rocks, died alongside his family.
Tommy Rocks, my great friend.
Maybe Tommy would have got married,
and maybe some of his family would have married into my family.
So their life was taken, my future was taken, their future was taken.
But one of the Rocks family living at number 78 did survive.
Patrick Rocks senior.
He agreed to work his son's night shift at the factory
so Patrick Junior could stay and help with his young children.
A last-minute decision,
it saved Patrick Rocks' life but at an unimaginable cost,
as his granddaughter Ann later recalled.
When he returned from work, his mother-in-law,
his wife, his six sons,
his daughter, his daughter-in-law,
and five of his grandchildren were all dead.
His home was totally destroyed,
and all he had were the working clothes he was wearing.
The shock waves of that night didn't just tear apart families,
they also threatened the very existence
of an industrial town already riven by conflict of another kind.
The job that saved the life of Patrick Rocks senior
had been at the Royal Ordnance Factory,
across the canal from Jellicoe Street.
In the weeks leading up to the Clydebank Blitz,
Government investigators had reported on the mood
in this vital strategic cog.
They described a town at war with itself.
Quite a lot of men are hating their bosses,
just as much as they hate the fascists.
Quite a lot of bosses are hating their men,
nearly as much as they are hating Hitler.
Brendan Kelly's dad, Thomas,
worked at John Brown's as a general labourer,
and knew all about working conditions in the shipyards.
The shipbuilders, to be honest,
way back in days gone by they were treated like muck.
The working conditions were terrible.
You were swallowing all kinds of fumes, breathing all kinds of fumes.
Poor working conditions and a lack of job security
were facts of life in Clydebank,
which had a long and bitter history of industrial conflict.
This was a working-class community.
-It identifies with working-class tradition.
So there was a very strong, both communist and socialist,
political scene here in Clydebank.
You had, for instance, the 1919 riots in George Square,
which some equated
to a semi-communist revolt,
and what was called the Red Clydeside.
For thousands of workers along the Clyde,
the communist system seemed a desirable alternative
to the hard-nosed capitalism they experienced every working day.
But with the Soviet Union having signed a pact with Nazi Germany,
Communist sympathies were a cause of concern to the Government,
as intelligence received by the Ministry of Information reveals.
A serious situation seems to be developing in the Clyde.
It would seem that the troublemakers are a large band of communists,
probably numbering about 6,000.
So when the bombs began falling on Jellicoe Street
and the rest of Clydebank,
the war effort wasn't the only thing on Bankies' minds.
Like Patrick Rocks, the McDowell's father, Stuart,
worked in the Royal Ordnance Factory making gun sights.
He wasn't a Communist Party member, but he shared their grievances.
You knew your parents were talking about those things,
but it didn't mean anything to us,
but there definitely was that feeling of animosity right
enough, you know what I mean? With the workers and the people.
John Moore, a 21-year-old apprentice,
who worked alongside many of the residents of Jellicoe Street and the
surrounding area, was passionate about workers' rights.
Moore was a communist,
and was dedicated to recruiting his fellow workers
to the communist cause.
Linden Moore is his daughter.
So this is my father's
Communist Party of Great Britain membership card,
and inside you could see his paid-up stamps.
He's fully paid up for that year.
Though young, John Moore was a rising star in the party.
My father knew Willie Gallacher.
And Willie Gallacher was one of the original Red Clydeside leaders,
but Willie Gallacher had met Stalin.
So my father was only one place removed from Stalin.
I mean, now we think of all that as quite shocking,
but at that time, even Stalin was romantic.
Some people might not think so.
The struggle for the hearts and minds
of the workers of Clydebank created
deep divisions in this close-knit community.
Brendan Kelly's father worked at John Brown's shipyard,
where Moore was busy spreading the Communist word.
The Daily Worker? No.
No way. Communists, it was a Communist newspaper.
My father stopped a guy at the bottom of Kilbowie Road
selling the Daily Worker.
He walked across to him, he says,
"Your father would be turning in his grave."
For Party members like Moore,
loyalty to class trumped loyalty to country,
even in times of war.
The First World War, in particular, had been an imperialist war.
He felt that the working classes were cannon fodder, really.
And that the masters of war didn't really care about them.
That was also shown in the way that the working classes were treated
in Britain at the time.
Just one week before the Clydebank Blitz,
John Moore and his comrades decided it was time for action.
He put himself at the head of a strike
of Clydebank shipyard apprentices,
a direct threat to the smooth running
of the industrial war machine.
Oh, I think the Government thought my father was a troublemaker.
There's no doubt about it.
Young Turk. Political activist, Communist, commie.
The strike call fell on fertile ground.
Apprentices were considered to be learning their trade,
so they didn't really have to be paid properly.
But some of them could be married men.
Some of them could have families.
It just was not regulated.
There were fighting for better pay and conditions.
They were fighting for security for their families.
The loss of a week's wages
was a catastrophe that could probably
take you a year to recover from.
So when people went striking,
they knew they were threatening their own existence,
so it had to be quite extreme.
As the sun rose on March 13th, 1941,
it must have seemed like just another day.
The apprentice strike, led by John Moore,
had been going for several days and was now beginning to bite,
with 6,000 apprentices downing tools along the Clyde.
The Government decided enough was enough.
Bosses and workers were summoned to an emergency enquiry,
under pressure to thrash out an agreement,
and get the Bankies back to work.
For John Moore, this was a chance to make his case.
Clyde Boy Striker In Debate With Sheriff.
Clyde apprentice strike leader, John Moore,
made his way along deep-piled carpets,
to the Arran room of the Central Hotel, Glasgow yesterday.
Deep-piled carpets, indeed.
Striking for better pay while the country was at war was contentious.
But Moore was in no mood for patriotic lectures,
as the press statement issued the day before reveals.
We've been accused in not so many words of helping Hitler,
for demanding a living wage.
Yet the employers who are making hundreds of thousands of pounds
refuse to concede to the demands of the boys,
while claiming themselves to be patriots.
Moore demanded extra time to prepare his argument.
The enquiry was adjourned.
On Thursday 13th March,
the chairman scheduled a resumption of talks for Saturday morning,
little knowing what the coming two days would bring.
That night, the drone of bombers was heard over Clydebank
for the first time.
This was the night bomb 187
crashed through the skylight of 78 Jellicoe Street.
As word spread about the devastation wreaked in the tight-knit community,
John Moore responded by immediately calling on the striking apprentices
to offer whatever assistance they could to the authorities.
I think that he felt it was the right thing to do.
It had to be all hands on deck, basically.
Everybody had to help each other to clear up the city.
That was the priority.
Back in Clydebank,
another Bankie was busy dealing the aftermath of the Blitz.
Air raid warden William Roberts.
Rosabel Richards is his daughter.
It does say ARP,
but obviously it's an air raid precautions box,
and I do know that they were
issued to air raid wardens,
and my father was an air raid warden.
But apart from his ARP work,
Rosabel has very few clues about what her father did during the war.
He was born in 1905,
I think in Clydebank,
and he was brought up in a working-class area
and I think went to work in Singers.
And somehow or other, after the war,
he ended up going to Balliol to study modern greats.
What I wrestle with is, how did this man from
a working-class background in Clydebank
end up, after the war, studying at Oxford University?
In order to piece together the puzzle,
Rosabel is travelling up to Clydebank from London
to try and find some answers.
She's arranged to meet her cousin John,
who she hasn't seen since the 1950s,
in the pub where her father used to drink.
Where is he?
-Are you John?
Hello, it's really nice to meet you.
John remembers Rosabel's father as Uncle Willie.
Have you got any photographs?
I've got loads.
-There's Uncle Willie and my dad.
That, I think, must be his wedding day because,
look, they're wearing carnations,
and they're looking incredibly smart.
-Which I don't think they normally did.
-No, they weren't, no.
He always came across to me as a very educated man.
You could talk to him about anything.
You know what I mean? He was, how can I put it?
Cool, calm and collected.
I know he was involved in politics,
because my dad told me that.
You see, I don't know anything about that.
So what do you know about that?
I don't know if I should say this on camera,
but he used to bring a load of stuff up from the House of Commons -
-Oh, well he liked whisky.
He did, he did. So did my dad.
But what was he doing in the House of Commons?
-I don't know.
-Are you sure?
He'd come up and the bottles were embossed,
property of Her Majesty's Government.
And I remember him sitting there and my dad saying, "Oh, Willie,
"that's a lovely drop of whisky you've got."
Rosabel knows little beyond the fact that her dad was an ARP warden
during the war. So she's surprised
that he seemed to have connections to Westminster.
She's hoping she can find out more from official records.
I thought my father hadn't made a great fist of his life,
and he didn't seem to have much of a career.
My mother was the breadwinner,
so he tended to follow where she went,
and find work locally wherever we happened to be living in Scotland.
Rosabel has a declassified Government intelligence document,
from December 1940, three months before the Clydebank Blitz.
It's a minute sheet, industrial campaign, and it's from, oh,
it's from the regional intelligence officer in Scotland.
Oh, hang on, I've just spotted something.
The very last sentence says, the man's name is William Roberts.
His address is 14...
Right, I'd better read the rest of it.
Mr William Roberts is a Clydebank man who
has eschewed the prospects of large wartime wages,
and is working whole time on ARP.
He has had two years at Newbattle Abbey College...
Oh, that's where my mother taught.
..the adult education college in Scotland, and is at present,
in his spare time,
taking a diploma in social studies at Glasgow University.
He has special experience and training
in conducting small meetings.
He has also been invaluable as an advanced outpost
against Communist infiltration through shadow organisations.
Rosabel has discovered that her father worked for the Government's
industrial areas campaign,
which had been set up to counter the message
of Communists like John Moore.
His job was to try and get people to understand that the way forward
wasn't the Communist way.
Well, I never.
Well, well, well.
Daddy. You kept that very quiet.
William Roberts was fiercely anti-Communist.
He believed that party members were undermining the war effort to pave
the way for a Communist takeover.
In the weeks immediately before the bombing of Clydebank,
Roberts was working to counteract the influence of
John Moore and his comrades,
one tenement at time.
"One woman of my..."
This is my father writing now.
"One woman of my acquaintance came to me one day and asked me to come
"up to her house on the Wednesday of that week and attempt to
"discredit the Communist family who lived next door to her."
"The first time I called,
"I just listened to the woman Communist Party member.
"She really had no more consciousness of what she was saying
"than a gramophone record.
"After criticising her,
"she told me that her husband would be a match for me.
"The husband was as hopeless as his wife, in fact.
"He used such terms as 'dialectics'
"and 'materialist conception of history,' et cetera,
"which I asked him to define, but he couldn't."
I feel very, I don't know, I'm really very surprised.
..a totally different person.
This is not the man I knew as my father.
I mean, I find this whole thing quite astonishing and I'm very proud
Less than 24 hours after Jellicoe Street had been hit,
the sirens sounded over Clydebank again.
The Luftwaffe had returned.
The second attack was different from the first.
The first night, the target had been the dockyards and the factories of
Clydebank, but the second night...
..it felt as if it was the morale of the Bankies themselves
that was being targeted.
This is a bomb map I made up.
Every single dot is where a bomb landed.
Every bomb has got a blast ring diameter.
There's a 1,000kg line.
There's another one in there.
You're talking about a bomb that has got half-a-mile blast damage radius.
So this is the intensity.
This is the bombing of Clydebank.
It's just a saturation.
An absolute saturation.
The consequences for this small town were cataclysmic.
Out of 12,000 houses, only eight were left undamaged.
In just two nights, the town had been virtually wiped out.
Tom McKendrick has pieced together a devastating picture of the impact
..after more than 400 high-explosive bombs and thousands
of incendiary bombs
had fallen on this densely populated area of just two square miles.
Just right here there was a massive crater on the road there.
The windows and the roofs were all lifted off of these.
This road here, there's a photograph of that house smashed to pieces.
This side here, there was garages,
there's a photograph of burnt-out cars and stuff like that.
Another bomb blast there and the these tenements
bomb blasted back to there.
You can see now the fireplaces that still remain after that bombing.
Interesting to think that was somebody's living room at one time.
And as you go along the tenement, here you have it, there's a gap.
Every single one of these gaps tells a story - a bomb.
After the second night's bombing, Brendan Kelly's tenement, number 60,
was the only residence left standing in Jellicoe Street.
But by then, the Kellys had gone,
joining the mass exodus of bombed-out refugees
who were fleeing the town on foot.
Everybody was calm and orderly.
But nobody had a clue where they were going,
just anywhere out of the road they were bombing.
Some of the soldiers, were saying to my mother
"just take your families, because Hitler's not going to stop until he
"flattens this place."
Later in the day, a passing lorry picked the Kellys up.
This is where the truck driver brought us.
It was like a big furniture van.
Right down this road.
Brendan's family were just a small part of the stream of humanity
leaving the town.
By Saturday morning, a fleet of 200 buses was working nonstop,
ferrying Bankies out of the danger zone.
Many would never return to Clydebank,
the future of their lives determined by the lottery of the bus
By the evening, two-thirds of the town's population of nearly 60,000
It was the largest evacuation in the history of these islands.
40,000, between 40,000-45,000 people leaving over two nights.
These islands have never seen anything like it since.
For the Kellys, journey's end was the outskirts of a village called
Furnace on the banks of Loch Fyne,
60 miles and a world away from the terrors of Clydebank.
In the ghost town of Clydebank,
damage to the town's productivity was being urgently assessed.
In spite of the intensive bombing, the shipyards and factories,
though battered and open to the skies, were judged to be close to
operational, if only the workers could be found to man them.
The first obstacle in the way was the apprentices' strike,
led by John Moore.
That Saturday, at the Central Hotel, Glasgow,
the industrial enquiry reconvened.
In the 48 hours since the two sides had last met,
life around them had changed forever.
Many, including John Moore himself, had lost their homes.
Some had lost friends and family.
But the apprentices did not back down,
as a statement from Moore and his comrades made clear.
"There are apprentices in Clydebank who have been bombed.
"And they go into a factory next week and earn 13 shillings
"and fourpence, and their families, who've been bombed,
"expected to keep them
"on 13 shillings and fourpence."
Nevertheless, a return to full production was a priority.
The apprentices went back to work on condition that their terms of
employment were reviewed.
A week later, shipyard bosses agreed to John Moore's wage demands.
The enquiry's chairman acknowledged the extraordinary backdrop to this
bitter industrial dispute.
"I would like to say to both the boys and those who this afternoon
"have thrashed out this agreement
"how deeply we appreciate the sense of public duty
"and the responsibility that has actuated this situation
"we are all in,
"and with the desire which I am sure actuated us all to do justly by each
"other in this issue."
But despite the conciliatory words,
the fact remained John Moore had won.
I would say it was my father's finest hour.
He was very pleased with his success.
I'm proud of him. I'm proud of that young man who stood up and took on
a case that other people probably wouldn't have taken on
at a young age. So I'm proud of him.
I'm sure at the time my father was viewed as a working-class hero in
Clydebank and that to some extent
he's still thought of a working-class hero.
But William Roberts was not going to let John Moore claim a victory
unopposed. Hanging up his ARP helmet,
he continued with his mission
on behalf of the Government, against the Communists.
My father did do some work after the Blitz
visiting people in rest centres
and so on and tried to continue his work
dissuading people from Communist sympathies.
Even with the strike being resolved,
there could be no certainty that the rest of the Bankies would return
for their shifts on Monday morning.
The town's once-cohesive workforce,
used to having factories and dockyards
on their very doorstep, were now bombed-out, shell-shocked refugees,
scattered far and wide over the Clyde valley, Ayrshire, Argyll,
Lanarkshire and Stirling.
But old Bankie habits die hard.
That Sunday night in the village of Furnace,
where Brendan Kelly's family had found a refuge,
Brendan's father, Thomas,
prepared to negotiate the 60-mile journey back to Clydebank,
anxious not to miss the start of his shift at John Brown's.
My father took me up the road on Sunday night.
He needed to go on the 6 o'clock bus out of the village.
John Brown's shipyard started at half past seven.
Thomas Kelly was not alone.
All over the west of Scotland,
Bankies were on the move, by bus, by car,
hitching, on foot,
flooding back to their battered home town to serve the war effort.
The McDowells' father was one of the few who travelled in style.
The story is he had the car and in those days
you didn't need a licence.
-So the chauffeurs showed him the gear work,
you know, the car, how to work the car, and he had followed...
He went up to the main road and the bus came.
So he wasn't quite sure, feeling confident to drive,
so every time the bus stopped, he stopped.
People did turn up for their work the next day
and the day after and they returned and they walked great distances.
They travelled great distances to actually come back here
to their work because they needed to.
And if your town is destroyed, if your home is destroyed,
perhaps the only thing you've got left is your work because that is
continuity, that is security, that is something you can hang on to.
But that security came at a price.
For Bankies who'd fled a long way from Clydebank,
returning after their shift each night was simply not practical.
So many, like Brendan's father, Thomas, slept in shelters,
churches and in school halls,
only seeing their families at weekends.
Still traumatised by the Blitz,
the strain on these families was enormous.
I used to walk down and leave him.
I used to cry, when I seen him going away on the bus,
because I was frightened in case he'd get killed.
I remember my mother crying with loneliness
and she kind of broke down
because my dad had been back up to work.
And I always remember her crying that night and I said to her,
"You'll be all right, you'll be all right."
The family was scattered and it was breaking my mother's heart.
But for some, the aftermath was even more challenging.
For the surviving members of the Rocks family,
the struggle to return to work was made worse by the grim necessities
arising from the tragedy at 78 Jellicoe Street...
..as Marion McDermid's mother, Ann, recalled.
"During the day, my mother would have heard
"that they had found some bodies
"and she would plead with my father to go and see if it was her family,
"as they had not been found yet.
"So my father would walk back to Clydebank to make enquiries."
When the bodies of the Rocks were finally recovered,
Ann's father accompanied Patrick Rock Senior
when he went to identify the family members
he had so nearly died alongside.
"My grandfather managed to keep his composure until he came to
"his daughter, Teresa, whose face had been blown apart.
"At that point, Grandfather fainted."
Then Patrick Rock Senior came to the bodies of his wife
and one-year-old niece.
"She looked as though she was sleeping.
"She had my cousin, Ann,
"clasped in her arms and Ann was buried with her still clasped
"in her arms. The two of them together, forever."
Incredibly, within two-and-a-half weeks of the night Bomb 187 fell on
Jellicoe Street, industrial output on Clydebank had largely returned to
Official intelligence reports, so recently strident with alarm,
now sounded a different note.
"It was agreed by all observers that the bearing of the people of
"Clydebank was beyond praise.
"They are of a high moral and intellectual calibre.
"The most vital sign of the toughness of the Clydebank worker
"has been the desire to return to work."
In the eyes of the authorities,
the Bankies had shown which side they were on
and the town's industrial output during the war backed this up.
Over 50 naval ships were built at John Brown's alone,
including 36 warships.
Three months after Jellicoe Street,
the attitude of John Moore and his comrades towards the war
underwent a sudden and dramatic conversion.
With the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany
on the 22nd June,
the duty of Communist Party workers was clear.
Increased production of arms and munitions
to ensure the defeat of the Nazis.
For the first time since the war began,
loyalties to party and to country could be reconciled.
My father did hand his politics on to me.
As I've got older I've begun to appreciate what he fought for
and I've begun to appreciate his politics
and our family have always been a socialist family.
With the Communists on side, and Clydebank back at work,
you might think William Roberts would be out of a job.
Far from it.
This was from the Ministry of Information in Malet Street in
London, so that was the intelligence service,
saying that he's been appointed to the staff of the Ministry of
Information at a salary of £300 a year.
William Roberts' wartime appointment was a stepping stone to a place at
Oxford after the war.
The factory worker from Clydebank had come a long way.
Today, Brendan Kelly is the last known survivor from the Jellicoe
Street tenements at the time of the Blitz.
After more than 70 years,
he's still haunted by what happened to his friends and neighbours
the night Bomb 187 hit.
We grew up with the stories about Jellicoe Street
and my dad reciting those stories over and over and over again.
We always say that my dad had an 11th child.
He had ten of us children,
but his 11th child is Jellicoe Street.
-How are things?
-All right. Yes.
I'm going back down to Jellicoe Street again,
just to stand outside that close.
But that doesn't always make you feel good when you go to visit
Jellicoe Street because you've said that to me in the past.
But I can't, I've got to go back.
-In fact, they'll say do you go to the cemetery?
"Not very often," I said,
"my head's full of tombstones." And that's no lie when I say that.
You'd be amazed at the people I remember.
There is something about the Blitz, and I don't know whether he feels
unsettled because he survived and other people never.
Or he wishes he could go back and he could make it better or he could get
people back that he lost.
Every year, on the nearest Saturday to 13th March,
the community comes together to remember
the more than 500 Bankies killed
in the two-night Blitz of 1941.
I think it's a sacred memory because it's part of folklore,
it's part of the collective memory
of the citizens of Clydebank and it's very much
an established, fulcrum moment where Clydebank
completely changed forever.
THEY SING "THE LORD'S MY SHEPHERD"
I feel it's important because what happened to the people of Clydebank
has never been known.
My granny's family was wiped out in the Blitz
and she made us promise that
we would never forget what happened, and we never will.
After the Blitz, Clydebank was eventually rebuilt.
But the hard-won gains of better pay and working conditions were
short-lived, as shipbuilding gradually declined,
with the last John Brown's ship being launched on the Clyde in 1972.
The Clydebank of pre-Blitz days
would never be seen again.
This town paid its price and it should never be forgotten
because people should be proud of this place.
There needs to be a pride about what we did and how we continue to
But although the effects of the Clydebank Blitz were far-reaching,
ultimately the most profound legacy is deeply personal.
At 85, Brendan Kelly is still living with the consequences of Bomb 187.
The Rocks family. Ann Rocks.
Annie Rocks. Bessie Rocks, as we knew her.
Frank Rocks, James Rocks.
James Rocks Junior. James Rocks Senior.
Patrick, Tommy, Frank.
Two Thomases. Thomas Junior, Thomas Senior.
There's times when I like to be alone.
I just close down.
And my thoughts kick in.
Sometimes I go for a wee walk and I get a feeling of great sadness.
I miss them, all the Rockses.
I was up in the high park last night
and I could hear kids down in the school, football ground,
and I heard their noises and I thought, "Gosh,
"they were the noises I heard in Jellicoe Street."
Next time, a deadly weapon of mass destruction...
That's an incendiary bomb.
They really were killers.
..strikes at the very heart of Bristol.
That night you could say the soul of the city was wiped out.
But from the flames...
The stirrup hand pump is the best to deal with both bomb and fire.
We knew what we had to do.
..the people fought back.
How were the lives of Germans affected by aid raids
when the Allies retaliated?
To explore this and more, go to...
..and follow the links to the Open University.
During the blitz, over 450,000 bombs were dropped on Britain and every bomb has its own story. This series examines the specific effect of four bombs, from their initial impact on individual lives, right through to their wider consequences for the Second World War, and all the way to the present day. Across the series incredible personal testimony, gut-wrenching memoirs and the meticulous records kept at the time provide a visceral and terrifying account of the Blitz that directly connects with the human experience of the bombs. As survivors and relatives attest, these bombs touched the lives of everyone and created a legacy we all still live with today.
Episode three follows a bomb that fell on Jellicoe Street in the Scottish town of Clydebank. It was a tightly knit community of ship builders and factory workers who worked hard in difficult conditions. For the children though, life in the tenements was like being part of one big family as Patrick Docherty and Jack Tasker remember.
But on the 13th March 1941 that would change forever. When the bomb fell on Jellicoe Street, it destroyed number 78, killing 15 members of the Rocks family. Marion McDermid's grandmother was a Rocks - she survived and left a harrowing account of how her family had been wiped out by this one bomb. Amongst them was 13-year-old Tommy Rocks, Brendan Kelly's best friend. Over 70 years later Brendan is still deeply affected by the events of that night, as he says 'I went to bed a boy and wakened a man.'
As the community reeled from the chaos, confusion and grief wrought by the bombs, there was another war being waged in Clydebank. One young ship yard worker, John Moore, was battling to secure better pay and working conditions for his fellow apprentices. Linden Moore, his daughter, describes her father's communist politics and his role in negotiating better terms for striking apprentices on the same day the Jellicoe Street bomb fell.