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12th July 1940 - Black Friday

Between 0900 hours and 1300 hours, raids took place off Aberdeen and in the course of one of these a shipyard was bombed. No damage was sustained by ships being built or under repair. The raider, a Heinkel He111 was shot down by 603 Squadron.

The He111 prototype nevertheless had provision for 3 gun positions and a 2,200lb (1,000kg)-bomb load. Early versions featured a conventional 'stepped' cockpit and nose section and were used during the Spanish Civil War with great success where their relatively high speed and good defensive armament was more than a match for Republican fighters.  In 1938, a new version of the He111, the He111P began to leave the production lines and featured a completely redesigned wing and nose with extensive glazing and off-set to improve pilot visibility and this was to become the trademark of the type for the remainder of its service. Another feature of the 'P series was a streamlined ventral gondola which replaced the retractable 'dustbin' fitted to earlier models. Gruppen of He111Ps saw service in Poland, but it was not until the invasion of France that large numbers of defending fighters were encountered, and by the time of the Battle of Britain many German units were flying the He111H which suffered from inadequate firepower when attacked.

Bomb Splinter Damage reported on Spa Street.
A Heinkel He111 Light Bomber tasked to attack Leuchars is shot down by RAF 603 Squadron and crashes into the Aberdeen Ice Rink.
3 High Explosive bombs are dropped on Urquhart Road, as well as 2 on properties in Roslin Terrace. Unexploded bombs are found on the railway line close to the King Street Bridge.
One High Explosive bomb hits Castlehill Barracks

Hogg & Co. 12 July 1940
Damage at J C Hogg & Company Granite Works in Regent Walk
9 High Explosive bombs fall on the area around Regent Walk and King Street. One is noted as striking Hogg's Granite Yard.

King Street
Bomb Damage

Contemporary Film of Bomb Damage
A local topical film showing the impact of the 1st daylight air-raid on Aberdeen on July 12th 1940, known locally as "Black Friday".   The clip shows the damage caused to buildings and schools by the air raid, it shows people standing in the street with household furniture retrieved from damaged buildings as well as one of the German planes shot down during the attack.   Showing general bomb damage, Domestic Science School, The Neptune Bar, strafing damage, and the downed German Bomber at the Ice Rink.

Attack on Hall Russell's Shipyard
Enemy aircraft appeared suddenly without warning at 12:45 PM and launched an attack on the Hall Russell shipyards. Approximately 16 High Explosive bombs are dropped on Hall Russell, with the majority hitting the Boiler Works. A High Explosive bomb also hits the London Boat at Waterloo Quay. 25 bodies are brought to the ARP Emergency Mortuary in the Combworks at Berryden Road

Jimmy Jardine tried several times to join the Merchant Navy, but on each occasion Hall Russell's refused to release him as his job was classified "essential war work".  At lunch time Jimmy usually played football with friends in the yard.  His Granny sent a message asking to see him on 12th July 1940, so he was not there when a Heinkel He111 dropped bombs into Hall Russell's Yard at lunch time that day, but his best friend was among the apprentices killed.  Jimmy eventually joined the Merchant Navy after the war ended.

A German bomber reportedly tasked to attack RAF Leuchars and shipping in the Tay Estuary was intercepted over the City, and attacked by Spitfires based at Dyce, and eventually shot down into what was to be the New Ice Rink on Anderson Drive

During a dog fight between a German Heinkel He 111 and an RAF Spitfire the Heinkel was shot down. The Heinkel had taken a hammering from the Spitfire manned by Squadron Leader Quacker? who was awarded the DFC for his actions.   The Battery pumped in a couple of .303 rounds as it came in to crash on Aberdeen Skating Rink. By that time most of the the crew had all left the plane. 

'Quacker' may have been a Nickname as it does not appear on the DFC List

I also remember quite clearly when they were building an Ice Rink in Anderson Drive. It was during the day and this German plane came across and everybody just stood and watched. It was shot down and it crash landed in the new ice rink which was never completed and was demolished after the war.

She lived with my grandparents, her brother and sister in a tenement style flat 3 or 4 stories up at 285 Hardgate, Aberdeen just off the town centre. Her story concerns an air raid which must have been in daylight — she heard engine noise, looked out of the window to see a German bomber go past close enough for her to clearly see the markings and expression on the Pilots face. The aircraft had been hit by anti-aircraft fire and the pilot was fighting a losing battle to control it.  The plane then came down and crashed into the nearby ice-rink on Anderson Drive.

I was 11 when war broke out in 1939. My most vivid memory was in 1940 when Hall Russell Shipyard was bombed. My brother had just got a job there and I was worried about his safety.  I was in our house (4 Link Street) when the bombing started. I remember the front door crashing shut and pushing me right over! I heard a terrible noise so I went out to see what all the commotion was about. I saw civilians taking injured people up the road on a horse and cart and any other available vehicle. My dad was away working and came home to check my brother was OK.  Many workers who were having a lunchtime drink in the Neptune Bar were killed in this incident. A number of the bar windows were blown in causing havoc for those inside.  I also remember young girls picking up coal off the beach in Aberdeen during the war.  Nobody could afford to buy coal so locals collected what had been washed up onto the beach from ships. One day I was collecting coal when a German plane flew over and we could see the black crosses on its undercarriage.  The cemetery was badly bombed those on the beach escaped unhurt. - Ada Stewart

Black Friday - 12th July 1940 Film Record -
Scenes of the impact of the 1st daylight air raid on Aberdeen, known locally as "Black Friday". Shots of buildings damaged by air raid attack. Sequence of people standing in street with household furniture retrieved from damaged buildings is in Footdee.  The School of Domestic Science, a nursery school, terraced house and extensive glass damage to the Neptune Bar, Shelter, Shell marked wall, wreckage of Heinkel He111 aircraft.  Aberdeen's "Stay at Home" holidays in Hazelhead Park. Shots of people visiting a display in the park grounds, picnicking, etc. ARP services display. Open-air concert and various leisure activities

The Tail of the German Heinkel He111 bomber shot down by Spitfires on Friday 12 July 1940.  The bombs, - dropped as the crew attempted to escape the Spitfires, - landed mostly on Hall Russell's shipyard and Canteen in Footdee killing several dozen workers.  The Neptune Bar was also badly damaged as was the former School of Domestic Science in King Street

After a short time Aberdeen also fell victim to Luftwaffe attacks aircraft based at Stavanger could reach the City in just over an hour and we were forbidden to visit the Beach Esplanade which was heavily fortified with AA guns (mainly Bofors) to defend the Harbour installations and Shipyards.  It was quite common to have a daylight strafe from either a Heinkel or Dornier spraying the Beach area and Football Grounds with Machine Gun fire.  At this time we were staying with relatives in Mannofield which was about as far out of Aberdeen as you could go on the tram. I attended school locally and one day there was a major air attack on the Harbour,  again we had taken shelter in one of the concrete public shelters by the school in Broomhill Road.  A great many powerful detonations were heard and we heard the fire tenders go tearing along to what had been the new Ice Rink a policeman asked me where I was going and I said Morningside Drive so he directed me past the blaze which was caused by a German bomber crashing.

There was the crashed plane. One of the crew had obviously tried to bale out and met his death trapped in the Bomber's half-open door.  The police were everywhere, but we managed to sneak past in a search for souvenirs.  I picked up a number of cartridge cases, a couple of pieces of parachute harness, and a small piece of the wreckage.  till in my pocket was the paper bag from Mitchell & Muil's Bakery, which had contained a couple of rowies (morning rolls) we had bought to sustain us throughout the day. In it I put my souvenirs. They remained in that bag for many years. I remember having a look into the bag when I returned from Malaya after doing my National Service. The wreckage of the Bomber was brought down into the centre of the City and displayed in the quadrangle of Marischal College - a memorial to the Hall Russell's dead, and also to the German Crew, who were given a decent burial. I can't remember whether the Germans were buried - either in the Trinity or the Grove cemetery.  Tullos Circle had been bombed the same day.

Hall Russells’ Shipyard was a target, which also meant Fittie & Torry housing was frequently bombed. My aunt had her windows blown out 3 times, or rather blown out twice and blown in once. Victoria Road School was destroyed on 12 July 1940

I was a 14 yr old when the Hall Russell Shipyard at Aberdeen Docks was bombed. The bombing happened during the day. I was at home and heard the planes coming across and the bombs dropping. I went out on to the street along with many other people who were drawn outside to see what had been hit. My memory is a vivid one of the bodies being taken up the Denburn by horse and cart to the Woolmanhill Hospital, which was the main hospital in Aberdeen at that time.

The day the German Heinkel Bomber smashed into the new ice rink that was being built at Anderson Drive!  It was a school holiday and a beautiful sunny day. We had bought all-day bus tickets, allowing us to roam Aberdeen by bus and tram. We were on our way to Hazlehead when the air-raid siren sounded and there was action in the skies. We leapt off the tram to watch.  There was a German Bomber (it was a Heinkel He111) trying desperately to get away from 2 spitfires from the Dyce Squadron. But the Spitfires were being thwarted because of the Barrage of ack-ack fire coming from armed Trawlers in the Harbour. They were in danger of being shot down themselves!  Eventually, 1 of the fighter pilots fired a red flare signalling the guns to stop firing, then homed in on the target. In desperation, the Heinkel jettisoned its 2 bombs in a bid to escape. Unbelievably, the bombs (later we were told they were actually 1000kg Sea Mines) exploded on the corner of York Street in Fittie, where 100s of Hall Russell's Shipyard workers were gathered during their lunch break in the Neptune Bar and the adjacent Canteen.  Many died. But the fighter pilots finally did the job and the Heinkel crashed into the ice rink.  We immediately headed for York Street. It was where our Granny lived. Complete carnage. But at least Granny had escaped with just shattered windows. We went up York Street and into a shattered Flour-Mill building. I made a gruesome discovery - a severed finger.  I actually picked it up, but hurriedly threw it away, wiping my stained fingers on my shorts.

There is a lot more to relate such as  the aerial bomb which hit my Grandmothers house at 28 Urquhart Road on July 12th 1940 which probably hastened her death in Dec that year, but that is for another time.  Doug P

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Last modified: 01/09/2013