On September 1st 1939, Germany invaded Poland via the Danzig Corridor and applied the technique of 'lightning war' on Polish citizens. On September 17th, the Soviet Red Army invaded eastern regions of Poland in cooperation with Germany. By October 1st, Poland had been overrun while surviving Polish forces reformed in Romania, Hungary and the United Kingdom. Many of these exiled Poles came to Fife and many landmarks still remain from this period. The Town Hall of Earlsferry was built by Polish exiles and the large concrete anti-tank defences still seen near the Lady's Tower just east of Elie are remnants of work done by Polish soliders during the war.
On 16th October 1939, the German Luftwaffe (air force) launched a bombing raid from occupied Norway and with an operational objective of destroying the Forth Bridge.
From a strategic viewpoint, destroying the bridge would have limited supplies to the Rosyth Naval Dockyard in Fife and to Naval Base at Scapa Flow in Orkney.
In what became the first aerial action of World War 2 over British soil, the attacking bombers were intercepted by the 'City of Glasgow' squadron of the Royal Air Force. The Luftwaffe aircrew had been confident of success but on meeting the Spitfires, the best option was to drop their bombs, lighten the aircraft and escape. In their haste to retreat, some of these bombs fell in southern Fife. The aerial photograph was taken by a German photographer during the attack.
One house in Kilrenny was completely blown apart killing the entire family with the sole exception of a boy who had ventured to the bottom of the garden in order to feed his pet rabbit.
Two houses in Crail were destroyed but, fortunately, the families were in St. Andrews at the time. The traitor and German radio announcer Lord 'Haw Haw' was compelled to put a positive spin on this failed effort by making a propaganda announcement that 'the industrial town of Crail' had been destroyed! As regards the picture above and taken from one of the German aircraft, it's interesting to note how the shadow of the bridge is more prominent than the bridge itself!
Photograph from German wartime archives.
Text by Alandon.