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The Invergordon Archive

The Bombing of Tank 13
The Invergordon Archive
The Bombing of Tank 13

This is an aerial photo taken by the RAF soon after the event in February 1941. The picture shows snow on the ground and points highlighted.
The inset photo at the bottom left shows detail of the main picture, in particular the wrecked tank 13 and the hole in the top of the tank next to it.
See picture #180 for comments and details of this event.
Picture added on 07 September 2004
I am amazed to see this picture. I was often told of the incident and the non-existence of a tank number 13. The bombing took place the year before I was born. My family lived at 2 Munro Street at the time (a bicycle shop the last time I looked). If the bomb had done its job properly I guess I and many others would not be around today.
Added by Bill Geddes on 24 December 2004
Bombs ejected to allow German airforce bomber to fly home. Look at location of tank on site and look at location of hit on tank. Too much to periphery. PERHAPS!!! Sorry I don't think they would have mean't it otherwise they would have the town apart including the docks which were an even more prime target.
Added by Shuna Webster on 10 February 2005
My late father, Hamish Askew, was working as a clerk for the Admiralty about this time before later joining the RAF. I recall him telling me about the attack on the 'tanks' as a result of which the main rail line north was affected by oil flowing down past the railway station and into the sea. I understood that the bomb had not actually detonated but the impact had caused the tank to burst. No shots were fired by our AA batteries which were at either side of Invergordon (Rosskeen and Saltburn) and after dropping its cargo on the tanks, it then flew over the front of the town, opening fire with machine guns on seaplanes moored near the dockyard. It then flew out through the Sutors unscathed. The raid on the tanks subsequently featured in a German propaganda broadcast by Lord Haw Haw (Joyce?) who claimed destruction on a massive scale.
Added by Graeme Askew on 01 April 2005
I recently met Davie Matthews, Tomich Road, Invergordon, and happened to mention this website to him and the bombing of tank 13. He recalled the incident and was in class standard 2 at the Academy at the time. Davie confirmed that there was no actual detonation but that the tank collapsed with the weight of the bomb. He also remembers oil running down the railway line and out onto the bottom of the High Street. No doubt there are others with vivid memories of the event.
Added by Graeme Askew on 30 April 2005
There were also gunposts on the ground between the middle and dockyard pier - I think it was a single bofors gun there. Also at the end of Shore Road on the ground by the old coal yard were more gun positions; again I think they were bofors guns.
Added by Douglas Will on 22 March 2006
Graeme, you mention Davie Matthews. Is this the same Davey Matthews that rode his bicycle everywhere? Recall him having a "racing bike" - suppose he still rides a bike to this day...
Added by Harry O'Neill on 04 September 2006
Just spotted the comment by Shuna. Think about it: if the bombs had gone off, the damage caused by the resultant fires would have done considerable damage, much more than bombing the docks. Remember the oil flowed down from the tank through the cutting leading to the station; passing that, it went thro the goods yard before finally flowing into the sea by the railway cottages. When I left the station where I worked there were still traces of oil along the platform walls and inside the cellars under the secure store next to the booking office. The plane also machine-gunned the trucks and vans on the long siding going along the bottom of 'The Bulls' hill and you could see where the bullets had chipped lumps out of the rails . The seaplanes were moored between Inverg and Alness in lines.
Added by Doug Will on 05 September 2006
I remember Davie well as he was our neighbour when we lived in Joss Street. He was a very keen racing cyclist and used to enter for the races at the Highland games. Those races were tough as the track was grass and bumpy, not at all like a normal bike race. I know he competed more widely, does anyone know if he had any big successes?
Added by Bill Geddes on 05 September 2006
Graeme, glad you could fill us all in. Remember Alice Wilson? (Of course you do!!) She told us a similar story. Apparently it wasn't the only bomb to hit the area. At some point something "up the back" near Ardross/Newmore. Ena Gordon told me about this but I can't remember the whole story.
Added by Shuna Webster on 05 September 2006
Harry, yes this is one and the same Davie Matthews. I am currently working in Jordan, Middle East, but when home still see Davie cycling, usually from Invergordon to Inverness and back. Always have a blether with him when I get the chance. For those who remember, Davie was the designer and maker of 'The Bomb' as we called it - a tricycle motorcycle with two wheels at the front and one to the rear with an aerodynamic glassfibre body. Another piece of Invergordon history from the 1960s which must be worth an entry and photograph if possible.
Added by Graeme Askew on 05 September 2006
Graeme, I find that fascinating and agree that it would be great to see a picture of the "Bomb", and some info on its composition.
Imagine, he still rides back and forth to Inverness. Over here they have what they call the "Ironman" contest. I think that Davie would fit in that category quite nicely.....
Added by Harry O'Neill on 07 September 2006
Remember Davie well - in ’70s and ’80s he was a self-employed panel beater at Frews Garage. Built his own home-made Mini and would carry his racing cycles in it to competitions. I was a panel-beater at the Royal Garage 1975-1989. Been back in Edinburgh since 1989, retired now after liver transplant in 2008.
Added by John Craig on 28 November 2009
Following on from Shuna's comment I do in fact recall my father, Hamish Askew, telling me of another unsuccessful bombing raid on the Invergordon area but possibly intended for the Inchindown facility or at least this is the area where the device(s) fell. I am sure he said that these bombs were of the incendiary type as opposed to high explosive. This would be early in the war too and before he joined the RAF as I remember him telling me he and no doubt other friends cycled up to the area but it was closed off. The raid was ineffective with no damage.
Added by Graeme Askew on 05 December 2009
I live at Coillemore Invergordon and was told that the other bomb was dropped in the field in front of my house - the large field opposite the grain dryer. David Matthew is now in his 70s, 77 I think; he is my father's 1st cousin and still cycles to Inverness, often the long way round detouring the side roads to make the trip more worthwhile. Hope I have some of his energy when I'm of similar age. His brother Gordon, who lived in Canada, died last year, sadly.

Added by Elaine Maclellan on 17 February 2010
Nice to hear about Davey Askew, remember him well. Did he not open a byke shop? I have a faint recollection of one evening standing at the usual corner of King Street, as you do(!), when Davey came along in one of his cars and went into the Comm for a pint, it must have been a light car(?) ’cause we picked it up and carried it round the corner of the Comm and waited for him to come out and go haywire - first and last time I ‘nicked’ a car!!
Added by Dan Macdonald on 06 March 2011
Spoke to David today 6/4/2011 in Inverness and he looks very well. Told him about this discussion and the interest in the bomb that he built. Made his day that people remember him still. I told him I would show him this and hopefully he will have his own comments to add.
Added by Elaine Maclellan on 06 April 2011
Elaine. we all remember Davie Matthews, always used to run into him on his bike all over the country. Pass on my regards to him, he may remember us, or at least the Dunn's. thanks.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 06 April 2011
Shuna Webster on 5th Sep 2006 mentioned a bomb falling somewhere "up the back" - Newmore/Ardross area. I lived in the farm next to Inchindown called Kinrhive on the night in question. First we all heard the noise of a plane overhead. Nightflying in the area at that time was unusual. I went to the back door. As I did so, a bomb exploded and I went back in, unable to speak to the family because my teeth would not stop chattering. The bomb had fallen in the field between Kinrhive and Inchindown - followed by a string of bombs, probably five, in a southward direction towards Coillemore. (The story went that one bomb fell down a farmhouse chimney but did not explode.) At the time the bombs were falling, the workmen at Inchindown were coming off shift, all riding bicycles and it was thought that the chain of lights they made southwards from the hill had guided the bomber. Immediately after that, the radio propagandist, Lord Haw Haw, mentioned the Inchindown incident.
Added by Margaret Reid on 25 March 2012
Interesting comments Margaret. I never knew of that only the tank bombing, although it stands to reason that the Germans would know about Inchindown and go after it.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 25 March 2012
Thank you Harry. Glad you found it interesting. I do have stories to tell which most people won't now remember. I'm planning to add another one connected with Inchindown.
Added by Margaret Reid on 26 March 2012
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Aerial views

Overhead Conveyor and SmelterSaltburn and the Smelter SitePortlich StorehouseAerial View looking NorthAerial View looking WestAerial View of Invergordon looking North-EastBalintraid FarmHigh Street Aerial ViewInvergordon HarbourInvergordon