Edinburgh is going about it’s business oblivious to the war sweeping continental Europe. Suddenly this all changes, aircraft are heard roaring overhead, strangely the air raid sirens have not sounded.
To their horror and amazement, the good folks of Auld Reekie see Spitfires of 603 Squadron pursuing a Luftwaffe Ju88 at low level over the city with guns blazing. To add to the noise and confusion, Army AAA guns were firing at the aircraft as well. Explosion after explosion rung out and a number of people had their windows broken by the concussion wave of the shells, nose caps were found littering the area later.
Intent on their kill the Spitfires poured lead into the Junkers which in return was firing back with it’s machine guns. As the aircraft passed over Abercorn Terrace, Joe McLuskie a painter and decorator was up his ladder working away on a job, in seconds the aircraft had passed, Joseph lay at the foot of his ladder.
His mate Frank Flynn, found that he had been hit by a bullet in the stomach, and that he was still alive. Mr McLuskie was rushed to Leith Hospital an was reported to have passed away from his wounds, so there you have it, poor Frank McCluskie from Guthrie Street, Edinburgh was the first British civilian to die in the war.or was he? In fact despite reports of his death in the papers, he did not and was the recipient of compensation for his wounds, he is however thought to be the first UK casualty.
Officially it was stated that the bomber had struck the fateful blow, but in reality it could just as easy been one of the Spitfires.
As for the Ju88, it made it as far as the sea where it was seen streaming smoke and disappeared into cloud. Whilst not claimed it’s highly unlikely that he would have made it back over the North Sea to his base.
Mr McCluskie was not the only civilian hurt, a council workman on Ferry Road was hit by a MG bullet, but made a recovery,a number of women were slightly injured by falling shell fragments from the AAA shells.
Another record was set the same day when both 603 (City of Edinburgh) and 602 (City of Glasgow) both brought German aircraft down into the Firth of Forth, the first German aircraft shot down in UK airspace.