Discovery of wartime ledger uncovers local story

Audrey and Peter Taylor
Audrey and Peter Taylor

A newly discovered ledger with records of bomb damage to churches throughout Scotland during the Second World War - has uncovered a fascinating story from Bearsden.

Bearsden South Church, now known as Bearsden Cross Church, had to be rebuilt after it was hit by a bomb dropped by a German warplane returning from the bombing raid on Clydebank.

Bearsden South Church

Bearsden South Church

The ledger states: “Totally destroyed – only walls standing.”

Audrey Taylor (81), who has been attending the church since she was three-years–old, vividly remembers the night of the attack.

She said: “The air raid warning went off and my father was out on duty on the road with the other men because he was an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) warden.

“My mother, my grandmother, who was staying with us, and I were under the dining room table in case a bomb dropped on us.

“That’s what we did because the Anderson shelter in the garden was always water logged and full of frogs.

“When the siren went off my mother always made sure she had her engagement ring on and her fur coat just in case she needed to sell them to buy food.

“My father came back in and said there was a fire at Bearsden Cross because the sky was alight and it turned out the church had been hit by an incendiary bomb.”

Mrs Taylor, who recalled going to school with a gas mask round her neck, said she had been told the church had been turned into a make-shift refugee centre for people affected by the Clydebank Blitz and was full of straw mattresses.

She added: “It was devastating for Bearsden because it is was the only building hit.

“But it brought the community together and people really rallied round and we just soldiered on.”

Her husband Peter (84) said: “I remember being terrified because I was outside in the garden that night looking up and could see planes flying overhead.

“The skies were very clear and I was worried the bombs would come right down on top of me.”

The Register of War Damaged Properties records in meticulous handwritten detail every incident that befell churches, manses and halls across the country at the hands of the German air force – the Luftwaffe – in the 1940s.

It sets out the date, the extent of damage caused and the cost of temporary and permanent repairs which would be carried out to around 800 properties.

The ledger, which has been preserved for decades in the basement of the Kirk’s offices in Edinburgh, will be deposited in the National Archives of Scotland to allow historians to see it for the first time.