Recollections of Pilton

The Bomb





John Ross, known as
Ian Ross

Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England

Thank you to John Ross who wrote:


"I  remember a bomb hitting a house near school and one past Embassy Picture House.  I had a great friend, James Nolan, who lived near the Embassy but I have lost all contact with him."




Steven Oliver

Duns, Borders, Scotland

Thank you to Steven Oliver who wrote:

Boswall District

"My grandparents lived at  Boswall Parkway from 1941 until 1998 and it was here that my dad and aunt my were brought up. "


"I noticed John Ross’s comment on the house that was bombed.  This is the block of houses at 21-27 Crewe Place ('Gumley' houses), which have a flat roof instead of a pitched one.

The houses were hit by a 500lb bomb, dropped by a German bomber returning from an aborted raid on Rosyth on the morning of 29th September 1940.

Three people were killed, two children living in no.27, and a man living in the flat above (no.25)

Miss Pell who was one of the original tenants of the 'Gumleys' dated these houses as going up in 1933.  I’m not sure if she is still alive.

I can remember both my dad and grandad telling me about the bombing.  It was mentioned in the book, 'Stranger on the Shore', a few years ago."

Houses Rebuilt

"Donald Grant (a regular contributor to your site) informs me that the flats were rebuilt from the ground up which is why they look different to the others in the scheme.  He had a school friend (John Brady) who lived nearby.

I was speaking to my dad this morning and he told me that one of my grandparents’ neighbours, a Jimmy Robb of 7 Pilton Park, was an ARP during the war and dealt with the aftermath of the Crewe Place bombing. 

Dad told me that Jimmy recalled seeing the two children who were killed in the bombing laid out on the back lawn of the bombed house, without a scratch on them. 

The house itself had the windows and roof blown out by the bomb.  The reason for it getting the flat roof when it was repaired would have been due to wartime restrictions on building materials, making restoring the original roof and bay windows uneconomic."

Steven Oliver, Duns, Borders, Scotland:  January 16, 2007




Kathleen Wheeler (née Christie)

 Crossville, Tennessee, USA

Thank you to Kathleen Wheeler who wrote:

The Bomb

"Regarding Betty Fraser's letter (above):  I lived in Crewe Place, Pilton, near Royston during the war years and our home was one of those flattened by the bomb.

The house across the street took a direct hit and  two children  were killed.  All the houses around it were either flattened or severely damaged.

The two children (a boy and a girl) were my playmates when we were young.  Their names escape me right now. 

I'm loving all the letters from people who remember the area where I was raised.  They bring back many memories."

Kathleen Wheeler (née Christie), Crossville, Tennessee, USA:  May 5, 2007

Do you remember Kathleen Christie?

Kathleen would like to hear from anybody who remembers her.  If you  would like to contact her, please e-mail me and I'll pass on your message to her.

                 Thank you.

- Peter Stubbs:   May 12, 2007




Kathleen Wheeler (née Christie)

 Crossville, Tennessee, USA

Thanks, again, to Kathleen Wheeler for sending the memories below.

Kathleen wrote:

The Bomb

"I now remember the names of the two children who were killed - Ronald and Morag MacArthur.  I don't recall their mother being killed in this bombing.

I remember my father telling me that the German plane which dropped the bomb was being "escorted" to the Firth of Forth by two RAF planes which wanted to down him over water instead of on houses.  Unfortunately, the German pilot realized what was going to happen to him so he just dropped his load wherever.

Everyone had to get out of their houses and I remember seeing the flames coming from the MacArthur house.  I'm not sure of this.  Usually when the sirens went off, we went to the shelters, but that night we were home, so I'm thinking maybe they didn't go off. 

There were four families lived in each building and I believe four of the houses were demolished.  The MacArthur house took the direct hit.  We had to live with my grandparents on Grindlay Street (opposite the Usher Hall) until the house was rebuilt.

All this has really jogged my memory about a lot of things I thought I had forgotten.

Kathleen Wheeler (née Christie), Crossville, Tennessee, USA:  May 15, 2007



Patricia Plant (née Shaw)

Morayshire, Scotland

Thank you to Patricia née Shaw, aged 88, who wrote:

The Bomb

"My mother and I were on our way to visit Peggy McArthur, the mother of the two children who died at 27 Crewe Place. We heard the bomb go off and ran into a shelter.

When we got the 'all clear' and came out, we heard that No 27 had a direct hit and that Peggy had been taken to the school then our house. She was in shock and kept asking for the children.  As she was in shock, we did not tell her straight away.

After the funeral she moved with her husband to his home area in Elgin.  She was pregnant at the time and went back to live in the house at Pilton when it was rebuilt.  She had a little boy who would be 68 now.

I joined up with the WRAC then moved to England.  My mother died in 1943, and I moved to Australia for 30 years I lost touch with Peggy.  I often wonder what happened to her son." ***

Patricia Plant (née Shaw), Morayshire, Scotland:  October 14, 2009
including some details from Rosalind Gordon, Oban, Argyll & Bute, October 15, 2009

***  UpdateSee 'Recollections 9' below.


Do you know what happened to Peggy McArthur's son?  If so, can you  please email me, then I'll pass on the news to Patricia.  Thank you.

Peter Stubbs:  October 20, 2009



Harry MacAnespie

Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland

Thank you to Harry MacAnespie, Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland for sending me a message about the bomb that fell on  the MacArthur's house at Pilton.

Harry (like Patricia, in Recollections 4 above) wonders what happened to George MacArthur, a survivor of the Pilton Bomb.

Harry wrote:

Pilton Bomb

"My first school was Wardie Primary.  I attended from 1935 to 1940.  One of my classmates was a George MacArthur.

My family were at home in Crewe Terrace when the bomb landed on his house in Crewe Place.  Rumour went around that George had been killed.

Shortly after this episode my family moved to the Glasgow area. It was only, many years later, that I came across a book in a public library entitled "Civilian War Dead, 1939 - 45", and noted that two children named MacArthur, Ronald Egbert aged 7 years and Morag aged 5 years, had been killed by the bomb, but there was no mention of George who would have then been aged around 9 years.

Up till then I had not known that George had a brother and sister.  I have not been able to discover anything more about the family.

So the question remains, what happened to George?   He is in my class photograph, taken in 1936 at Wardie Primary School."

Harry MacAnespie, Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland:  January 19, 2010


Do you know what happened to George MacArthur?  If so, can you  please email me, then I'll pass on the news to Harry.  Thank you.

Peter Stubbs:  January 23, 2010



Bob Sinclair

Queensland, Australia

Thank you to Bob Sinclair who wrote:

Bruce Peebles

"The bomb that fell on the house on Crewe Place was probably aimed at Bruce Peebles' factory, which was defended by balloons.

We saw the searchlights that night, one of which I believe was at Crewe Toll. 

Bomb Targets

The intended targets in the bombing also tended to be:

 shipping in the Forth

The Forth Bridge

Rosyth Dockyard

Bertram's Engineering Works

Bruce Peebles' Factory

and we did wonder if they were also after the whisky bonds at the docks.  Surely, no!"

Bob Sinclair, Queensland, Australia:  April 5, 2010



Lily Burke

(née Lilias O'Connell Cavanagh)

Foulden, Thetford, Norfolk, England

Thank you to Lily Burke who wrote:

Pilton Bomb

"I vividly remember the Crewe Place bomb on that Sunday night.  As usual, I had my Sunday night bath.  My dad was home from the Merchant Navy and my aunt and uncle were there.

Dad was just about to slice a pie for supper when this almighty explosion caused all the windows and doors to rattle.

My uncle grabbed me off the chair, tucked me under his arm and must have taken four or five steps down the stairs to the shelter.  There was no siren."

Lily Burke (née Lilias O'Connell Cavanagh), Foulden, Thetford, Norfolk, England:  January 2011



Tom McEwan

Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland

Thank you to Tom McEwan for telling me more about the casualties in the Pilton bomb, and for responding to the questions about;

-  Peggy McArthur's surviving sibling  ('Recollections 5' above).

-  George McArthur in ('Recollections 5' above).

Tom wrote:


"Ronald and Morag McArthur were, at the time, the only children of Alexander and Margaret McArthur.  They were not related to George McArthur (mentioned in '6 above').

Ronald was killed in the house at 27 Crewe PlaceMorag died in the ambulance, at Crewe Road, on the way to the hospital.  Because she was taken by ambulance, she would not have been 'laid out in the garden'.  The death certificates backs this  up.

Evening News Supplement

See also Edinburgh Evening News Supplement 1 for Wednesday May 4, 2005.  The article here was written by Ronald and Morag's only sibling 2 born 1941.

This Evening News article corrects some earlier errors in previous publications, including those published at the time which got ages wrong and got Morag's name wrong.

1.  There is an error in this Supplement.  No 27 was in fact downstairs.

2.   In 'Recollections 5' above, Patricia (née Shaw) writes that she often wonders what happened to Peggy McArthur's surviving son.

However, Tom McEwan tells me that the surviving 'son' was in fact a daughter, Sandra, and that she is now his wife.


"The house, when rebuilt, was used by wardens until 1944 when Mr and Mrs McArthur and their daughter Sandra moved back in. (At the time Mr McArthur was still serving with RAF in India.)

Tom McEwan, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland:  February 27, 2011



North Edinburgh

Cramond - Granton - Royston - Trinity -  Wardie


Granton:  transport map 1932

Granton:  small map 1870

Granton:  large map 1870


Cramond:                        from 1940s

Cramond Island:              1970s

Granton:                           1930s   1940s   1950s   1970s

Granton, Trinity, Wardie:  1940s   1950s - 60s   Shops

Lower Granton Road        all dates

Muirhouse                         from 1930s

Pilton:                               1940 bomb

Royston:                            from 1930s

Wardie School:                 1930s    1940s   1950s

                                         1960s    1970s   1980s


Granton, Trinity, Wardie:  from 1544


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