Wartime Raid On Oil Tanks Remembered

27 Jul

A devastating wartime air raid on oil tanks at Pembroke Dock will be especially remembered this August.

A service of remembrance will mark the 75th anniversary of the raid and its aftermath. This and a special exhibition are being co-ordinated by the Sunderland Trust, which operates the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre in the Royal Dockyard Chapel.

In the attack on 19th August 1940 three Luftwaffe Junkers Ju88 bombers bombed the Admiralty oil storage tanks depot at Llanreath, Pembroke Dock. The resulting conflagration lasted for three weeks and 11 of the 17 tanks were destroyed in what is claimed to be the largest fire in the UK since the Great Fire of London in 1666. Five Cardiff firemen died and many others were injured.

The exhibition will be staged at the Heritage Centre throughout August and there will be a special family friendly event on Friday and Saturday, 21st and 22nd August with demonstrations by the Mid and West Wales Fire Brigade.

Anyone who has family connections with the hundreds of firemen who fought the blaze; those who have special memories of August 1940, and owners and keepers of historic vehicles from the wartime period are especially invited to be involved.

Facts and Figures

Over 20 brigades sent fire personnel: Cardiff, Newport, Neath, Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, Rhondda Valley, Barry, Swansea, Milford Haven, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Haverfordwest, Narberth, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Gelligaer (Bargoed), Tenby, Fishguard, RN Mines Depot, Pembroke Dockyard Boom Defence.

It is estimated that 650 fire personnel were involved and there were over 1,100 injuries – both major and minor – with 35 serious cases. Five Cardiff firemen were lost in one incident.

Twelve days after the attack firemen can be seen tackling a blazing oil tank. Several others are burnt out. Courtesy Welsh Government Photographic Department

Twelve days after the attack firemen can be seen tackling a blazing oil tank. Several others are burnt out.
Courtesy Welsh Government Photographic Department

A huge pall of black oily smoke hangs over Pembroke Dock town and waterfront. PICTURE: Sunderland Trust Archive

A huge pall of black oily smoke hangs over Pembroke Dock town and waterfront.
PICTURE: Sunderland Trust Archive