An account of two incidents occurring early in World War II

A bomb had hit a coal shed containing ten tons of coal, which duly vaporised, covering all who ventured out with coal dust.

On the 3rd and 4th of September 1939, reconnaissance flights from Leuchers in Fife discovered the location of the German Fleet. The following day a bombing raid was carried out on the Kiel Canal, which sealed off the exit route.

On the 16th of October 1939, as a first year student at St Andrew’s University, I was travelling home to Anstruther by bus when I heard the roar of aircraft engines and on looking out saw a German plane coming towards us. I shouted for all the other passengers to lie down on the floor of the bus. A few minutes later we heard another engine, but this time it was a Spitfire from 602 Squadron based at R.A.F. Leuchers. We heard machine gun fire but did not see the result.

Arriving at Anstruther harbour, we were able to see a convoy off the coast being bombed and we later heard that a Spitfire from Drem aerodrome had also destroyed a German bomber. Both aircraft crashed at sea, one off the coast at Boarhills and the other in the Firth of Forth. I later met the officer who shot down the first aircraft as, following the Battle of Britain, he became Commanding Officer of the University Air Squadron (Squadron Leader J. B. Ritchie).

On 25th October 1940 a German bomber was spotted over the Fife coast ostensibly searching for Leuchers airfield, which was so well camouflaged that it looked like a ploughed field. On its journey, as it approached the village of Kilrenny, it spotted a light and dropped its full bomb load. The first bomb hit a shepherd’s cottage, killing the mother and her younger son, injuring the father and the older son who had been at the bottom of the garden feeding his rabbits.

That night my friend and I were playing snooker and took refuge under the table until all was quiet. We then went home to check that our family were safe, but noticed with amazement that everyone we met appeared to have black faces. We later discovered that a bomb had hit a coal shed containing ten tons of coal, which duly vaporised, covering all who ventured out! Fortunately no one was killed, though several people had minor injuries and we had to leave our house, as an unexploded bomb was found close by. The remainder of the bombs fell on open farmland or in the sea.

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