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UXO City Guide
Home Office Bombing Statistics for Clydebank

Record of German Ordnance dropped on the County Borough of Clydebank

High Explosive Bombs (All types)


Parachute Mines


Oil Bombs


Phosphorus Bombs


Fire Pots


Pilotless Aircraft (V-1)


Long-range Rocket Bombs (V-2)


Weapons Total


Area Acreage


Number of items per 1,000 acres


Why was Clydebank targeted and bombed in WWII?

Clydebank, located next to the city of Glasgow in Scotland, was subject to two major bombing raids and several smaller raids due to the presence of heavy industrial facilities in the town – including shipbuilding and munitions manufacture.

There were numerous key targets in Clydebank. The famous Singer Sewing Machine Factory, a 46 acre site at Killbowie, was switched to munitions production during the war, and suffered severe damage that resulted in the loss of over 390,000 square feet of the facility.

John Brown’s Shipyard (now Queens Quay) constructed a large number of warships such as the battleships HMS Duke of York and HMS Vanguard, the battlecruisers HMS Hood and HMS Repulse, and the aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable. The Luftwaffe reportedly ‘levelled’ the shipyard and all of the tenements around it. Eye witnesses reported ‘blocks and blocks of rubble’1.

The Beardmore Engine Works (now the Golden Jubilee Hospital and Beardmore Hotel) reformed as the ‘Royal Ordnance Factory Dalmuir’ and manufactured medium-calibre guns – primarily anti-aircraft. The factory was targeted on at least two separate occasions.

At Dalnottar, eleven huge tanks were destroyed at the Admiralty oil storage depot, with others severely damaged. Millions of gallons of fuel were lost and the resulting fire burned for two weeks. When the area was finally cleared and inspected, ninety-six bomb craters were counted and recorded.

Luftwaffe target photography of Clydebank.

Home Office Bombing Statistics for Clydebank

Details recorded by the official Home Office bombing statistics, indicates the quantity and type of bombs that fell on the Parliamentary Borough of Clydebank during WWII (excluding incendiary bombs).

A total of 375 bombs fell on Clydebank, equating to an average of 170.8 items of ordnance recorded per 1,000 acres.

However, this does not account for any bombs that fell unrecorded during these raids. These unidentifiable items, falling unnoticed are what pose a potential risk to construction today.

Major bombing raids in Clydebank

The largest raids on Clydebank, referred to as the ‘Clydebank Blitz’, occurred on the nights of the 13th and 14th March 1941. The town suffered the worst destruction and civilian loss of life in Scotland during WWII. Over these two nights, Clydebank suffered 528 killed and 617 seriously injured, with a further 647 killed in neighbouring Glasgow2.

On the 13th March, 236 aircraft attacked the town, reportedly dropping 272 tons of high explosive bombs and 1,650 incendiary canisters. The following night, 203 aircraft dropped 231 tons of high explosive bombs and 782 incendiary canisters. These raids completely destroyed an estimated 4,000 houses and out of the 12,000 houses established in the town – only 7 were left undamaged3.

According to German sources, a total of 503 metric tons of high explosive bombs and 2,412 containers of incendiaries were dropped over the two raids.

Some of the other major attacks on the town occurred on these dates:

  • 7th April 1941
  • 5th and 6th May 1941

Below is an example of Clydebank bomb mapping, showing the locations of bomb strikes on Jellicoe Street and its surrounding areas during the 13th/14th March raids (obtained from the National Records of Scotland). Individual H.E. bombs during the raid were recorded by number to better track incidents across the town.

Bomb mapping of Clydebank.
Bomb damage after the Blitz on Clydebank.
Workmen surveying the wreckage in Clydebank.

Can UXO still pose a risk to construction projects in Clydebank?

The primary potential risk from UXO in Clydebank is from items of German air-delivered ordnance which failed to function as designed. Approximately 10% of munitions deployed during WWII failed to detonate, and whilst efforts were made during, and after the war to locate and make UXBs safe, not all items were discovered. This is evidenced by the regular, on-going discoveries of UXO during construction-related intrusive ground works across the UK – not just in Clydebank.

Occasionally items of British explosive ordnance are also encountered in and around Clydebank – often associated with WWII defensive measures or Home Guard operations. However, there were few military related facilities in or around the city.

I am about to start a project in Clydebank, what should I do?

Developers and ground workers should consider this potential before intrusive works are planned, through either a Preliminary UXO Risk Assessment or Detailed UXO Risk Assessment. This is the first stage in our UXO risk mitigation strategy and should be undertaken as early in a project lifecycle as possible in accordance with CIRIA C681 guidelines

It is important that where a viable risk is identified, it is effectively and appropriately mitigated to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). However, it is equally important that UXO risk mitigation measures are not implemented when they are not needed.

While there is certainly potential to encounter UXO during construction projects in Clydebank, it does not mean that UXO will pose a risk to all projects. Just because a site is located in Clydebank does not mean there is automatically a ‘high’ risk of encountering UXO. It really does depend on the specific location of the site being developed.

A well-researched UXO Risk Assessment will take into account location specific factors – was the actual site footprint affected by bombing, what damage was sustained, what was the site used for, how much would it have been accessed, what were the ground conditions present etc.

It should also consider what has happened post-war – how much development has occurred, to what depths have excavations taken place and so on. This will allow an assessment of the likelihood that UXO could have fallen on site, gone unnoticed and potentially still remain in situ.

Recent UXO discoveries in Clydebank

Below are some incidents of UXO incidents and discoveries that have been reported in national and local press articles.

Homes were evacuated after an unexploded WWII bomb was found in Pollock, a residential area near Glasgow. April 2023: https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/unexploded-bomb-removed-glasgow-street-29787547

An unexploded bomb found on a building site close to a railway line near Glasgow, September 2022: https://www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/news/22867225.scotrail-closes-glasgow-line-unexploded-bomb-found-near-tracks/

An unexploded bomb was found in a Glasgow river close to Kelvingrove Park, July 2021: https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/unexploded-bomb-found-glasgow-river-24642586

A WWII mine with 350kg of explosives was found and detonated in the Firth of Clyde, December 2020: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-55156434

A group of magnet fishers pull four pieces of UXO from the river at Dalmarnock Bridge, November 2020: https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/6261371/glasgow-unexploded-bombs-police/

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