Mark Fraser: Day Seventy Three – A River Burns

Posted on March 14, 2011 by

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Today it is 70 years since the Clydebank Blitz. At the time Clydebank was essentially a huge munitions factory, making ammo for the British Armed forces. On March 13th and 14th 1941 the Nazi bombers decimated Clydebank. What follows is an attempt to try and get inside of the feeling of that night.

Image courtesy Tom McKendrick

Such a fright, in the dead of night,
As the frosty air melted and
Sirens raged in a dust filled haze,
When dusk settled across the serpentine Clyde.

Their execution was flawless when
German fire flew high to cut off the head of the snake.
Below women and children cried
While men stood resolute, cursing into the red sky:
“We do not fear you, we will not hide
This is our land, this pain is not justified”

They flew low, screeching through the air,
the sirens a call to arms.
The body was catatonic through the aircraft’s low murmur
and all at once night turned into day,
Building upon build spilleding debris into the streets,
Brick after brick admitting defeat,
Like scales shedding with the heat.

People erupted from their beds,
Quiet streets set ablaze with people
Screaming in horror, screaming in terror.
The night sky exploded with a whistle and a crash
the moment the aircraft emptied their load.
Third Reich bombers with a weak drone,
fourth strike engines, coming and going as if they had died,
Setting the canal a glow, the snake frozen in fear,
as the flames danced all around it.

The rain of fire was so strong, so powerful
that the emergency infrastructure
had collapsed.
Fire trucks, creeping below,
Battled blazes that no one had ever known,
defending a heroic arsenal.

The next night, it happened again –
The full moon became a flare.
Placing blame was easy
but these people didn’t care,
all they wanted was their lives back
the lives that were burned with the air that night.

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Posted in: Mark Fraser