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We saw the first air raid at Rosyth

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We saw the first air raid at Rosyth

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We saw the first air raid at Rosyth.
Here we print a vivid unpublished account of the bombing of British cruisers during the first air raid on Britain, written by Mr A. Neilsen, an ex-member of the British Royal Air Force (RAF).

On Monday, 16 October 1939 at 14 and 30 hours. My wife and I chanced to be travelling slowly along the coast road on the Firth of Forth, at a point exactly opposite to cruisers, HMS Edinburgh, and the HMS Southampton.
Suddenly there was a loud cracking noise, which seemed to be within the car, and which I immediately diagnosed as a broken ball race. Again ! But this time, the cracking noise was a few hundred yards away and easily recognizable as machine-gun fire. I stopped the car and jumped out, just in time to see a great volume of water shoot up within a few yards of one of the cruisers. Air Raid ! I called. Come out quick ! The attacker had gone, but presently the cruisers started losing their shells to a height of about 6000 feet. Up among the white puffs of smoke my wife spotted something. Look, there he is ! As she spoke, the machine banked and came down in a fast dive from the West. Down, down the he came, until directly over the Forth Bridge he released two large bombs whose course we were able to follow until they plunged into the river within a few yards of one of the cruises.

Several times, this happened, and of the bombs which were dropped. I should say more than one was as near as 30 yards from one of the other cruisers. Certainly a lucky day for them. Right behind us in a wood an anti-aircraft battery blazed away, and as we were not more than 400 yards from the cruisers the noise was too terrific, and all about us we could hear quite distinctly the orders given on the ships loud speakers. As we were on rising ground, and looking down on the scene we had a perfect view of the whole affair. My wife was a bit afraid, to begin with, but I insisted that we were tremendously fortunate to get such a view and that we might never have such an opportunity again. I may say, it was fairly obvious she was satisfied on this point, but not just in the way I intended her to be. I continued to reassure her, however, and pointed out that there was not a chance in a million of a bomb dropping near us as the marksmanship was far too good for that. The danger of shrapnel, dropping on us was slight as we were too close to the guns. One large piece did, however, land within 50 yards of my car. What I did not tell her and what I dared not think about was my secret fear of what would have happened to us if one of the bombs had made a lucky hit, where the raider was aiming.
It was the most thrilling experience, which I should not have missed for a great deal.

The HMS Edinburgh, HMS Southampton and HMS Mohawk came under attack from Kampfgeschwader 30, commanded by Helmut Pohle using Junkers Ju 88's

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Junkers Ju 88 Bomber, reconnaissance, night fighter picture 1

HMS Edinburgh picture 1

HMS Southampton picture 1

HMS Mohawk picture 1

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Sources

The Second Great War.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

The War Illustrated.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

2194 Days Of War.
ISBN-10: 086136614X

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