Air Raids and Sardines - by Duncan Harley

It's amazing what you learn in a pub. Although the Garioch town of Inverurie was never bombed during WW2 many, now elderly, survivors of those stressful days vividly recall being shepherding by  panicked primary school teachers towards the local bomb shelters when the air-raid siren sounded. 

Coastal towns such as Fraserburgh and Peterhead bore the brunt of enemy air-action. Raiders from occupied Norway could make landfall over the Buchan ports, drop their bombs and make off over the North Sea well before fighters from airfields at Banff and Dyce were able to intercept them. The fishing port of Peterhead suffered at least 28 air raids during World War II with nearby Fraserburgh not far behind with perhaps 26 Luftwaffe raids.

Retired railway engineer Joe Strachan recalls being in Peterhead visiting his auntie in 1940. “I must have been around eight or nine at the time. My aunt and my cousin panicked and I can vividly recall them jumping up and down on the double bed. How that was going to protect them against German bombs, I have no idea. They would have been better off hiding under the bed!”

Joe also recalls an attack on a convoy just off Peterhead. “It was dark and all I could see was what looked like a firework display far offshore but obviously someone was taking a pasting”.
On another occasion he returned to his home in Keith with a suitcase filled with tins of sardines which had washed ashore on Peterhead beach following the sinking of a cargo ship. “A friend found a gun on the beach about the time that the ships were bombed. It was a revolver as I recall. How that thing ended up on the shore is anybody’s guess.”

More @ The Little History of Aberdeenshire - published in hardback by The History Press at £12.


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