While I was compiling the two previous posts for VE Day, I did not yet know about the tragic deaths of the Sutherland family and it came as quite a shock. Isabella Binnie (my 3rd cousin x3) and her four young children were all killed when a bomb exploded outside their tenement block on Nelson Street in Glasgow on 13 March 1941.
On the nights of 13 and 14 March 1941, the Germans dropped over 1,000 bombs on Clydebank and Glasgow, killing 1,200 people, seriously injuring 1,000 more, and destroying approximately 12,000 houses. Renowned for its world class shipbuilding, Clydebank was a prominent target due to the number of factories producing munitions like John Brown & Company and the Singer Corporation. It was factories like these that were the real targets but the proximity of the residential areas had a cataclysmic effect and it resulted in the worst loss of life Scotland has ever endured in wartime.
While residents in wealthier areas had Anderson shelters built in their back gardens, the poorer residents of tenement blocks weren’t so lucky and had to make do with inadequate communal shelters instead. After the first few bombs had dropped, the Germans began deploying parachute mines which were designed to spread the blast wider and they caused significantly more damage. Just before midnight, one of these parachute mines hit Nelson Street, between a tram and the tenements, at the junction with Centre Street. Isabella Binnie and her four children were killed, along with over 100 other people, including 11 tram passengers.
Isabella Carlin Binnie was born in Tradeston on 14 January 1904 to Lewis Alexander Binnie and Margaret Carlin. Isabella worked as a baker’s assistant before her marriage to John Sutherland on 30 April 1926 in the Gorbals. Isabella and John’s first child, Sinclair, was born on 2 July 1926 and he was named after his paternal grandfather. Isabella went on to have four more children: George (1928), John (1932), Isabella (1933) and Margaret (1938).
On the night of the bombings, the Sutherland family were living at 101 Nelson Street alongside their five children and Sinclair Sutherland Sr, John’s father. I have no idea if the whole family were in residence that night, however Isabella, her father-in-law, and the four youngest children did not survive. Isabella’s death was registered that May as being “due to war operations, probably injury from land mine” by John Adair, Procurator Fiscal. Alongside are the entries for her third son, John Sutherland, aged 9 years, and her youngest child, Margaret Jane Carlin Binnie Sutherland, aged 3 years.
The body of George Sutherland, aged 12 years, was found (presumably under the rubble) on 22 March and the body of his sister, Isabella, aged 7 years, was found the day before that. Both deaths were registered by their father within a day of discovery which begs the question as to why the deaths of their mother and siblings were not registered until May. My conclusion is their bodies were never found and they were thereafter declared dead. You can only imagine the trauma John Sutherland had to endure losing his wife, his father and four of his children, all on one fateful night.