Dogfight over Forth Bridge recalled

Pat Gifford and his Spitfire after the bridge raid.
Pat Gifford and his Spitfire after the bridge raid.

The story of the first German air attacks to hit Britain, The Forth Bridge Raid, will be chronicled at the Queensferry Museum when an exhibition opens tomorrow (Friday), January 23.

The pop-up display will feature photographs, film footage and eye witness accounts of the raid which saw German bomber planes attack three ships on the Firth of Forth.

The raid left 24 men dead, 44 injured and four German airmen were captured and taken as prisoners of war to Edinburgh Castle.

Councillor Richard Lewis, culture and sport convener for City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The Forth Bridge Raid was a dark moment in Queensferry’s history.

‘‘It also struck a chord across the country and people felt the impact of the war in Britain as the losses were reported.

‘‘It’s important this story isn’t forgotten and the Forth Bridge Raid exhibition is a reminder to those local people who know about the events that took place and an interactive way to introduce the history of World War 2 in Scotland to younger generations.’’

The display has been curated by Mark Taylor from Queensferry Tours.

He said: “I am delighted the council’s museums service has allowed me to tell the story of the Forth Bridge Raid.

‘For such a landmark event at the beginning of WW2 it seems to me a story that merits re-telling.

‘‘It was the first time Spitfires were ever used in combat - an important event that should not be forgotten and it all happened here, above our Forth Bridge.”

Edward Thomson, an eye witness who was 10 years old and travelling by train over the Forth Bridge at the time, said: “I was a passenger on the Edinburgh to Aberdeen train which had just entered the first arch at the southern end of the bridge. I was in the corridor with a boy called Jack Thomas.

‘‘We were looking downstream and were trying to identify some of the fleet at anchor below the bridge.

‘‘The German bombers were in plain sight only a short distance away flying parallel to the bridge.”

The exhibition will be on display until June 1. Queensferry Museum is free to enter and open Thursday through to Monday (closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

Flight Lieutenant Pat Gifford (pictured) from 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron shot down the first bomber which crashed just off the coast at Port Seton.