Jan 152019
Photograph of the entrance to the shore path

The entrance to the shore path

Walking Path, West Shore Road, Edinburgh EH5 1QG

On October 16th, 1939, the skies over Granton’s shoreline were filled with enemy bombers. In the first major raid against Britain of WWII, the German Luftwaffe sent twelve Junkers Ju88A-1s to intercept Royal Navy Battleship HMS Hood. Approaching from the west, the bomber crews saw they were too late – a battleship already safely docked in Rosyth Dockyard. Seeking alternative targets, the Junkers dived to attack shipping in the river below. With total surprise they dropped their bombs unopposed, narrowly missing HMS Edinburgh and HMS Southampton. Wave after wave of bombing harried the desperately zig-zagging ships. Then a shock… Spitfires! The raiders had been briefed there were no Spitfires in Scotland. Now two squadrons of them swarmed in defence. The bombers broke and fled for their lives, chased back down the river or across Edinburgh at rooftop height. Citizens dived for cover as machine guns rattled and bullet casings cascaded onto the streets. Two bombers were shot down into the Forth, their surviving crew rescued by local fishing boats. The 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron had claimed the first ever Spitfire victory. Edinburgh’s skies were safe, but disaster had only narrowly been averted.

  5 Responses to “WWII Air Raid – 16 October 1939”

  1. The first civilian casualty of the war happened during this raid.

    • I believe the plane that flew over my house on Boswell Avenue shot and killed a man walking on Ferry Road. The noise was horrendous.

  2. My Uncle Herbert Michael Bradley a boy sailor on the Southampton died in this attack with about 10-14 other sailors- not that much written about theses casualties as the first attack on Britain in WW2.

  3. not much said about the civilian casualties in south queensferry, The actual opening shots were fired by Fl/Lt George Pinkerton leading blue section of 602 ( City Of Glasgow ) Squadron AAF operating out of RAF Drem, the squadron having only transferred there days before from RAF Grangemouth.

  4. From where did the Luftwaffe bombers take off?
    France and Holland hadn’t yet been taken in late 1939.

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