Tuesday, 18 June, 2024
13November 1939

First German bombs land on British soil as Shetland Islands attacked by Luftwaffe

The war came a bit closer to the British population on this day, when the German Luftwaffe dropped a number of bombs on the Shetland Islands, the first time British soil was attacked in the war.

The bombers were targeting vessels docked in Sullom Voe – two cruisers, HMS Cardiff and HMS Coventry, a number of cargo ships, and nine flying boats. A number of bombs landed in the water off the coast, one fell in some peat land, and one almost hit a Shetland school. Four further bombs landed on rocky ground. No human injuries occurred, but locals reported a rabbit was killed in the bombings.

According to later records, Lerwick-based photographer Robbie Williamson heard of the bombings and the locals told him about the rabbit. He promptly headed off to the bomb sites, stopping off on the way to collect a dead rabbit from the butchers. He then took a photograph of his driver holding the rabbit whilst standing in the crater.


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