Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby duck » Tue Oct 23, 2007 4:18 pm

Many thanks for all these memories Dugald. Fascinating stuff and a very enjoyable read. I look forward to them!
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Sun Nov 11, 2007 10:59 am

Armistice Days in Wartime Glasgow.

Armistice Days in wartime Glasgow were treated as something special, and the observance of the day was pretty widespread throughout the city. The only formal ceremonies I ever attended were those at Greenfield School, Govan High School, and one at 60 Main St. Bridgeton with the 6th Btn. H.L.I. Army Cadets. The Great War had ended only a mere 22 or so years before these WWII days, and since most of the pupils had close relatives who had served in the Great War, they had a pretty accurate idea of what Armistice Day represented. These ceremonies were always steeped in patriotic tradition with the reading of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae's "Flanders Fields", and the singing of "God Save The King". Colonel McCrae's invocation to "Take up our quarrel with the foe:" didn't fall on deaf ears at these assemblies, and doubtless this patriotic Militarism bore some fruit

There were of course much more formal ceremonies at a variety of Cenotaphs throughout the city, with the main one taking place, with appropriate military pomp and circumstance, at the Glasgow Cenotaph in George Square. It is worth recalling again, that there were at this time, a great number of Glaswegian ex-service people who had served in the Great War, and Armistice Day was viewed as a very significant occasion. The traditional observance of two-minutes silence at 11 am was, by and large, practiced throughout the city. Glasgow Corporation transit vehicles for example, generally stopped, although there were vehicles which for one reason or another did not. The yards and factories too, generally sounded their horns at 11 am and stopped work for the traditional two minutes of remembrance.

The phrases "Lest we forget" and "Their Name Liveth For Evermore ", used over the years at these ceremonies, acquired a veneration, a hallowedness perhaps, yet simply appealed to us not to forget those who died in the wars. At school we were encouraged to use the two minutes silence for personal reflection. Since these days I for example, think of the people I had known who were killed in the war. I was acquainted with six men who were killed in WWII. By "acquainted", I mean they were not personal friends, merely people with whom I'd had some personal relationship.

The first person I knew who was killed was a young sailor, Johnny B., who went down with the entire crew of the destroyer, H.M.S. Exmouth, on Jan, 1st, 1940, when she was torpedoed by a U-boat in the Moray Firth. Johnny lived up the same close in Govan as I did, and was just one of the 9 people serving in the military from among the 6 families who lived up our close. I got a sailor's hat with an "Exmouth" tally-band and a collar from Johnny, and when, as a boy, playing at "war" around the streets, I always wore Johnny's hat and collar.

I spent a holiday in Campbeltown in 1942, and while there I spent a lot of time playing and swimming around the Dalintober Quay. The quay had been extended to accommodate R.A.F. rescue launches. I met a young fellow, Keith C., there, who was always working around boats. He was a good swimmer, and while swimming out into the loch along with him to have a close look at anchored launches, I envied him his ability at swimming. That was my only acquaintance with Keith. After the holiday I never saw him again. One day after the war, I was having a look at the War Memorial and I noticed the name A.B. Keith C. Keith joined the navy at 18 and lost his life on active service before reaching 19.

About mid-war I became acquainted with a Govan man whose son, James R. serving in the R.A.F., had just been reported missing on a bombing raid over Germany. I never met James, but I witnessed the mental anguish and physical deterioration suffered by his father. As far as I know James was never found and the father never had confirmation of his son's death.

In 1943 a young R.A.F. flight sergeant, Archie G., from Campbeltown spent a night in my house in Govan while on his way home on leave. Our house was used as a stopover venue by many Campbeltown people during the war. Archie and I shared a bedroom in my house and he took me to the Vogue Cinema in the evening. I still recall feeling pretty good about being seen along with an airman while walking to and from the Vogue. This, as it happened, was his last leave, and I never saw him again; he was shot down over Germany shortly after his visit to Govan. Archie's name too, is on the Campbeltown War Memorial.

Govan was full of wee shops during the war and one of them was just at the corner where I lived. Every weekday morning I dropped in there to pick up a newspaper and five loose cigarettes. One day in 1944 while there I was served by Tommy M., an R.A.F. aircrew Flight Sergeant and son of the proprietor. In earlier years I'd been served by Tommy many times, but I'd never been quite as impressed by him, as I was at the sight of him resplendent in his airforce uniform. Tommy was killed over Germany.

I met John D. for the first time in late 1943. He had just come home from the Middle East along with the 51st Highland Division in which he, as a private in the Black Watch, had served all the way from El Alemein to Italy. When he walked into the room where I first saw him, he was the picture of the quintessential Scottish soldier: he was tall, very fit looking, very well-tanned, and wore a khaki Balmoral adorned with a big brilliant red hackle... John made a very big hit with all the girls! John was taken out for lunch and came back clearly very much under the influence. He loved to play football, and myself and others had a game of real rough-fitba' along with him, and it was wild! John went out again and the next time I saw him, he and a friend were fumbling their way along the side of a tramcar trying to find the door in order to board it. He'd had a great day! John was killed at Caen in August 1944.

On Armistice Day I think too, of the only civilians I knew who were killed in the war. I knew them only as a customer in their fruiterers at the corner of Langlands Rd. and Elder St. I am speaking of the Egan family, who were killed when their house in Linthouse was hit on the night of March 13th, 1941, in the Clydeside Blitz. The British Commonwealth Graves Commission informs us that the Egans are buried in Craigton Cemetery.

In wartime Glasgow, much was done, lest we forgot those names, it was hoped, would liveth for evermore.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:32 pm

Wartime Glasgow's Visitors.

Wartime Glasgow was visited by countless thousands from all over the world. The first visitation I recall being aware of took place in the summer of 1939. I am speaking of the visit to Glasgow of units of the French fleet. They docked at Shieldhall Dock and the ships were open to the public. The fleet consisted of a number of frigates, destroyers, and one submarine. I managed to board all the ships, and I recall exchanging coins with a real matlot who sported a red pompom on his hat. The most interesting boat was the submarine. I'm a bit vague about the exact date of this visit, but I guess, since the boats were open to the public, it must have actually been before the war got started.

My first actual wartime encounter with a foreign visitor was with a boy refugee from Spain by the name of Angel Pinto. He spent some time in my class at Greenfield School in the early 40's. I don't know why he finished up in Govan at this time since the Spanish Civil War had ended in April '39. He didn't have too much to say, but I think this was because he had no facility with the English language. My next encounter was also with another refugee in school. This time it was with a boy called Percy LePage, and he came from the Channel Islands. This happened in late spring of 1940. It happened after the Glasgow Evacuation had sort of petered out. Percy spoke English, but he wasn't the talkative type either, and aside from telling us about his adventurous escape from his home, he had little to say.

I had a pal at school whose mother worked as a cleaner at Ibrox Stadium and she told us that there were Polish soldiers there guarding German POW's inside the stadium, and the Polish soldiers chased the prisoners up and down the terracing steps helping them on their way with lots of kicks on the backside. This was at the beginning of the war and the POW's were mainly sailors from German ships caught in British waters.

Glasgow was a very popular place with the many Polish servicemen who were stationed there or who happened to be visiting. There were two Polish destroyers for example, tied up beside the Govan dry dock for a long time, (actually berthed beside HMS Sussex before fate moved her over to Yorkhill Quay). It was not at all uncommon to see Polish sailors in Govan walking along with their Glasgow girl friends. The city centre too, around the dance halls at weekends, was always busy with lots of uniformed heel-clicking men from the Polish forces. There were so many Polish troops in Scotland that Thompson's (?) Army Store on Union St. sold Polish military insignia.

Following the Norwegian debacle, the Bellahousten Park became home for a few thousand French Alpine troops. They were put up on the Mosspark Blvd. side of the park, quite near the railings, and many Glaswegian school children made use of their visitors to practice their knowledge of the French language. The troops had a very slovenly appearance, wore boots all covered with dubbin for example, and were not at all anything that could be called smart... but what they lacked in smartness they made up for in fierceness. There was a chip shop at the southwest corner of Langlands Rd. and Elderpark St. and in order to distinguish his shop from that of the local Italians (which had all been vandalised when Italy entered the war), the proprietor had painted a big French flag on his window. This attracted the French soldiers, and there was always a crowd of them around the shop. These soldiers always brought one of their great St. Bernard dogs and this always attracted a crowd of curious Govan kids. Their stay in Bellahousten was very short.

At the south end of the Corkerhill Rd.(?) there was a new bridge, and near the bridge, on the west side of the road, there was a farm building. Beside the building there was an area cordoned off with high barbed wire. In 1942/43 this was an Italian POW camp. The prisoners wore chocolate brown uniforms with coloured patches on them. We Govan boys went there frequently and taunted the prisoners and threw stones at them. They'd shout at us in Italian and throw stones back at us. They never bothered us but we sure bothered them. There was one prisoner in particular who use to get really mad, which entertained us greatly. He was a big fellow, looked like Victor Mature. One night we were back there taunting them again, and the big fellow chased us... right outside the camp! We were terrified. He never caught us of course. Italy had capitulated and the British guards were removed. The Italians were seen all over the area, and frequently escorted by an attractive young Glaswegian girl. We still went up to the camp to shout at them, but there was no malice and in fact we once had a tennis-ball game of fitba with them. They were employed in various farms around Paisley and Barrhead, and seemed to be enjoying their stay in the Glasgow area.

Late in 1942 and all of 1943, saw Glasgow's biggest invasion of foreigners... the Yanks! There was always a bevy of big boats gathered around the Tail o' the Bank in those days; these were the ships that brought most of the American forces to the UK in preparation for the invasion, and most of them went through Glasgow. There was an American Rail Transit Office at the western end of McLellen Street in Ibrox, and I think they looked after the dispersal of the troops around Britain. There was a permanent staff there and they were very friendly, always handing out gum and chocolate to the kids. There was a permanent staff also at the U.S. Darnley Military Hospital and the guards there were also very friendly ( this was a better place for "mooching" if one had a bicycle, since it was removed from the populated area and there was a lot less competition).

There were so many American Forces personnel in Glasgow during these war years that Lord Provost, Sir Paddy Dolan, authored a short booklet named "The Tale of Two Cities", featuring New York city and Glasgow, the aim being no doubt, to make the Glaswegian hosts and American visitors a bit more familiar with each other.

The main American transit camp was the area bounded by Barrhead Rd, Crookston Rd., and the extension of Corkerhill Rd (?) up to what we called the "Houselwood Round about".The main entrance to this camp was at this 'roundabout', and it was always a popular rendezvous point for the Yanks and their Glaswegian girlfriends. Central Glasgow, around the Locarno and Playhouse, was always crowded with Yankee soldiers, with white-helmeted military police to keep close tabs on them. I don't recall that they caused any trouble, although I did hear of a fight on Sauchiehall St. between white soldiers and black soldiers. The drafts that came to this camp were all segregated, by that I mean that the whole draft would be white or black, never mixed. I only recall seeing one black draft and they were just as free with their chewing gum as all the others.

The American "PX store" was right at the 'roundabout' and it was always a very busy corner with lots of young girls hanging around looking for a Yankee boyfriend. American soldiers were very popular indeed, and around the camp one could see scores of Yanks walking out with their girls. The security at the camp gates was pretty strict, especially as far as the girls were concerned. I did get in the camp a few times, but only by crawling through some barbed wire (up the side of the hill behind the "Carmen" and "Miranda" bungalows at the south end of the Crookston Rd.). in those days it was not uncommon to travel on the Crookston Rd. and see a baseball game in the Yankee camp on the vacant ground on the east side of the road south of the castle. It wasn't uncommon either, to see an American ambulance parked at the entrance to the Co-op undertakers on Morrison St.

Being a very busy port, Glasgow was visited by merchant seamen from all over the world. I did meet one of them, a young teen-age Canadian sailor whose ship had been torpedoed. He had full board in a house on Greenfield St and the kids there got to know him quite well. He dressed in denim pants and jacket and an American navy coat, but it was his white American sailor hat that identified him as a stranger. He just disappeared one day and we never knew what happened to him. A club for merchant sailors was built on Morrison St. near Nelson St., and it was always very busy. I recall hearing that they never suffered from the same "whisky off" periods that plagued the Glasgow pubs through most of the war.

After the collapse of the German Army in North Africa many Afrika Korps prisoners were seen in Glasgow. From troopships docking on the Clyde, they were brought to Bellahosten Park and the White City Stadium on Helen St. for fumigation and new clothing. Trucks driving along Paisley Rd. West with Jerry prisoners looking out the back became quite a common sight. They didn't look any different from our own soldiers, and generally returned any wave of a hand sent their way.

As the war was drawing to a close other visitors started to make their appearance in and around Glasgow. These visitors weren't dressed in foreign uniforms, but they were still readily recognized on the street. I'm speaking here of the European refugees, many of whom made their way west just a few steps ahead of the Russian armies. I don't recall seeing any around Govan where I lived, but I did see them in a camp on the Stewarton Rd. in the Glasgow suburbs, and I actually visited one such camp in Nielston just outside Glasgow. The huts were of good quality considering the war was still on. I don't know what became of these people, they were called "dee pees", an abbreviation meaning "displaced persons", by the local people.

I have on occasion met some people in recent years who had spent time in Glasgow during the war, Yankee types especially, but quite a few Poles also. I met an American at Roseneath for example, who'd been a sailor and married a Glaswegian girl. When I met him he was trying to find the camp up the hills above Roseneath, at which he'd been stationed. These post-war visitors all spoke highly of the days they'd spent in Glasgow during the war.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:10 pm

A Wartime Ne'erday.

After the 1939 Evacuation I did spend every wartime Ne'erday at home in Govan except for one, and I'm not too sure which year that was, but I recall that I was still wearing short trousers at the time. I spent this one in Campbeltown, but Glasgow was involved. I didn't go bus and I didn't go by bicycle, I managed to get a promise of a lift to Campbeltown in a lorry. The arrangement was that I'd get a lift on the lorry that was taking stuff from the SCWS Grocery Dept. to the Campbeltown Co-op , and I'd be picked up at the Co-op Undertaking Dept. on Morrison St. On Hogmanay I turned up at the arranged location at the arranged time and I was off sitting beside the driver, Barnie McI. on the trip to Campbeltown.

We went along, eventually, Sauchiehall St and onto the Dumbarton Rd. and after a short while we stopped and I had to move from my comfortable passenger seat to the space between the driver and an Argyll and Surtherland Highlander who was going on leave. Oh, this was okay, I did enjoy the chatter between the driver and the soldier who was on his way home on leave.We tooted along the Dumbarton Rd. then headed over towards Loch Lomond; we stopped again just outside Balloch to pick up a sailor who was hitchhiking. The sailor, apparently a Campbeltown one, was going on leave and had missed his bus in Glasgow.

The addition of a sailor to the lorry's passenger load, meant that the wee boy wi' the short trooser was relegated to the back of the lorry under the tarpaulin. No problem here at all, thought I, here I was stuck alone on the back of the lorry amongst all the wartime-scarce foodstuffs. But it wasn't just so good as it sounds, there was nothing that one could eat uncooked. The rest of the lift was uneventful; that is, we didn't pick up any more forces people going on leave, although we did pass a great number of men in uniform all looking for a lift .
We arrived in Campbeltown in the late afternoon and I made my way to my auld Granny's place. It was Hogmanay, and I spent the early evening with my cousins and pals who assured me there would be fights in the town, because a submarine had joined the submarines permanently based at Campbeltown. We walked around the town following the naval shore patrols with the hope that we'd come upon a fight and the patrol would set about sorting the fighters out. We didn't come across any such fights, but we did watch as they hounded the drunken sailors out of all the pubs and sent them on their way back to their ships or barracks.

We brought in the New Year along with quite a crowd of other people, most of them in uniform, in front of the town hall on Main street. Someone had a "sky-scraper" torch and focussed it on the town hall clock amid half-hearted efforts at singing "Auld Lang Syne". We all counted the last minute of this war year. I thought the countdown was somewhat anticlimactic, but I did enjoy singing "Bonny Scotland" on the way back over to Dalintober and my auld granny's place. She welcomed me in with an "Ochenee, whor huv ye bin tae this oor?".

My trip back to Glasgow next day had been arranged by my cousin who worked at the Campbeltown Creamery. This time the driver was an Archie R., and he drove a big lorry with two big tanks on the open back of the lorry. There were no soldiers or sailors on this trip, and I managed to get the passenger's seat in the cab most of the way to Anderston Cross.
Oh yes, we did pick up hitchhikers on our way to Glasgow, but they weren't Forces people this time. When we reached Arrochar, Archie stopped the lorry beside a group of young fellows all of whom had rucksacks on their backs, and were dressed in navy blue battle-dress blouses and wearing kilts. They provided entertainment with their lusty singing all the way into Glasgow. Archie told me he had picked them up at the same place quite a few times.

The hitchhikers, it seems, were Scottish Nationalists who spent their weekends hiking in the mountains around Arrocher and sleeping in caves. I asked Archie if I could sit on the back with them, so at convenient stop I switched places with one of them and sat on the back of the lorry. The blokes, most of whom seemed to be students, all had chanters with them, and as well as bursting into Scottish songs they'd play on their chanters. It was sitting there on the back of the Campbeltown Creamery lorry going down the Lochside, that I first heard the "Horst Wessel Lied"... imagine, Scottish Nationalists singing the Nazi Party anthem... in English!

My wartime Ne'erday celebration was at an end. Archie took us all the way to Anderson Cross, at which point we all left the lorry. It was of course dark, and since it was New Year's Day, the city was dead. The Nationalists made there way wherever, and I made my way back home to Govan.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Fossil » Tue Jan 01, 2008 12:52 am

dungald I love all your post but do you no think the german and US uniforms were the best


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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby HollowHorn » Tue Jan 01, 2008 1:08 am

He worships Htilit btw ::):
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:31 am

Newsreel News in Wartime Glasgow.

At the start of the war national and world news assumed a new importance in the daily lives of most British people. Newspapers of course continued to provide news, but there also occurred for example, a big increase in the number of people listening to the BBC Radio News. These were the only available sources (aside from Lord Haw Haw) of current news for most people. The BBC broadcast at 9 pm was probably the most popular broadcast and remained, for most people, an almost sacrosanct institution until the end of the war. There were needless-to-say, no pictures accompanying the BBC News.

During the war however, most people also spent a good deal of their free time going to the pictures, that is, the movies. As well as a feature attraction, the theatres all showed a newsreel, usually Pathe News or Gaumont-British News and they lasted oh, maybe ten or so minutes. These very popular newsreels were I'd guess, a useful means for the Ministry of What-have-You to disseminate any item of news, as well as other items of information, which the government felt might further the cause of winning the war. Dr. Göbbels too, made use of the German "Wochenschau", much the same as our newsreel, but it would be a safe bet that the British one was much more closely allied with the truth than the Nazi one.

The news items were a widely appreciated part of the picture show. They provided a means of openly expressing one's feelings about what was happening in the war: with rousing cheers or polite applause for the good stuff, and rousing boos or a silent acceptance for the other kind of stuff. No cheerleaders were required for the cheering or the booing, they were totally spontaneous, and very enjoyable.

I cheered and booed many a wartime newsreel presentation, but two of them had a more significant impact on me than most of them, and I can still recall them with a good measure of clarity.

The first of them, around about 1943, was the exchange of severely wounded British and German prisoners. The British POW's, transported by the Germans to Sweden, arrived home aboard a Swedish hospital ship, and the unusually long movie newsreel, showed the wounded coming ashore at a dockside in a British port. The background music to this heartfelt memorable disembarkation was, "We'll Keep the Home fires Burning". I watched this very sad film unfolding in the Plaza Cinema at Govan Cross. We watched blind soldiers being led down the gangway and into the care of waiting nurses; stretcher bearers carrying mangled bodies; and soldiers with unapparent reasons for repatriation being helped by medical personnel. There was an utter silence in the theatre, interrupted after a very short while by the sound of muffled sniffles among the audience.

An historical aside: These wounded-prisoner exchanges were carried out several times during the war on behalf of the British and the Germans by the Swedish Red Cross using the Swedish ship S/S Drottningholm. The British repatriates landed at Liverpool or Belfast, but there may have been one landing at Leith. There were of course some civilians exchanged in a similar manner.

The most famous, or perhaps infamous, of the wartime repatriated civilians, was Unity Mitford. She, a personal friend of Hitler, swore she would shoot herself if Britain and Germany went to war. True to her word, on Sept 3rd, 1939, Unity went to a park in Münich and shot herself in the head. The .22 bullet didn't kill her; it lodged in her brain and she clung to life. Her unconscious body was found by the police... and so was Hitler's phone number in her address book. Hitler himself arranged for Unity to be sent to the UK via Swirzerland; she never recovered fully, and banished to the island of Mull, died in Oban I think, in 1945.

The other newsreel with the significant impact occurred in the early part of 1945 in the Vogue Cinema on Crossloan Rd. The newsreel this time was one that shook not only Govan, but all the U.K., if not the world. I'm speaking of the pictures taken by British Army photographers of the German concentration camp at Belsen in Schlesweig Holstein. The movie of British soldiers actually bulldozing heaps of decaying emaciated human corpses, are pictures most of us who saw them will never forget...indeed, neither should we. These pictures portrayed another aspect of the terrible evils of which the Third Reich were capable.

This newsreel too, was longer than was the norm, and after its showing there was a stunned silence. Unlike the repatriation pictures, and as far as I recollect, there was no sound of sobbing; and I say again, just a stunned silence. It was as if we didn't know what to do, didn't know how to react to such a debasement of human life. This lasted for a short while or so after the conclusion, and then the theatre was filled with whispered conversations of what had been seen.
The next day these Belsen pictures were the main topic of conversation among the people of my acquaintance in Govan.

An historical aside: The Hereford Light Infantry, was among the first British troops to enter Belsen and it seems that Josef Kramer, the Belsen camp commandant, had sought a truce with the advancing Allied force, for the purpose of saving lives [said Kramer!] among the inmates of Belsen, but the truce was rejected by the Allied force. Yes, I know, sounds like utter rubbish...but the official history of the H.L.I. confirms that this did in fact happen. It seems too, that Belsen was not an 'extermination' camp like Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There were no gas chambers nor any other apparent means of execution, and the enormous heaps of corpses were those of prisoners who had died of starvation and of typhus (there was no cure for this disease back then). We didn't know of this back in 1945, and it was assumed these prisoners had been intentionally killed...as they were at Auschwitz for example.

It was difficult to understand why Josef Kramer chose to remain at Belsen in the final days of Nazi Germany, when he could easily have done what countless other SS personnel had done, and make good his getaway. Kramer stayed and, after a trial, was executed by the Allies. Kramer it seems, didn't think he was guilty of any war crime. No matter which way one looks at it, there is no doubt Belsen was an episode in WWII that gave a new meaning to man's inhumanity to man.

I had the occasion about ten years ago to cycle around Belsen and I saw nothing at all to indicate what had happened here during the war. I did see a military cemetery there, but no mention of the concentration camp. There were British troops still stationed in the town of Bergen Bergen, a dusty dump of a town, beside Belsen, but they weren't very communicative.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Mon May 12, 2008 12:16 am

Wartime Conscription.

In Glasgow all through the war men and women were, based on age and acceptable health, either deferred because of being employed in work considered essential to the war effort, or they were conscripted into the military forces or some type of essential war work. There was no escaping being involved in this conscription: as soon as one turned 18 years of age then one received what was known as one's "papers"; this informed the person where and when he or she must report for a medical examination, prior to being conscripted.

One could of course pre-empt the conscription process by volunteering. The chief advantage in doing this was that one could at least select the branch of the services in which one wished to serve. Many of those serving in the Royal Navy and R.A.F. For example, were volunteers who had chosen these branches of the forces in order to avoid being conscripted into let's say, the Army. If one had a preference but didn't wish to volunteer, one could take a chance on being conscripted into the chosen service, but there was always the risk one would finish up in a force in which there was no desire to serve.

It was of course possible for one to become a conscientious objector and refuse to serve in any of the nation's forces or indeed, to have anything to do with Britain's war effort. This was a very difficult course to follow and could quite easily result in prison sentences to mention just one of the many unfavorable circumstances the government could force upon the conscientious objector. Glasgow, like all the big cities in the land, had its share of conscientious objectors.

I got onto thinking about this topic after having recently read on another Forum, as well as having read about it in this week's Campbeltown Courier, of another means whereby conscription into the military could be avoided. I'm referring here to a group of "conscripts" known as Bevin Boys. The name Bevin Boys is derived from the name of Ernest Bevin, a member of Churchill's Wartime Cabinet, whose idea it was to let some young men volunteer to work in the coal mines instead of going on active service. Some people referred to them as "conscript dodgers", but this was never widespread and more tongue-in-cheek than vilification , as the dangers and dirty work involved in the mines was much less inviting than going into the infantry.

It seems more than 48000 young men between the ages of 18 and 25 volunteered to go down Britain's coal pits as an alternative to military service. This interest in Bevin Boys stems from a recent decision by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to recognize the valuable contribution made by these men to Britain's war effort. Last March, the Prime Minister presented badges to some 27 Bevin Boys... a mere 50 years after the last Bevin Boy was discharged from service.

I knew three Glaswegian Bevin Boys very well. They were all well-known Glasgow racing cyclists and they all went down the pit and dug coal. It was no easy job, and why it seemed to attract some of Glasgow's event-winning cyclists, might stem from the fact that many of Britain's top racing cyclists were coal miners... not of the Bevin Boy variety. The coal-mining as opposed to soldiering also offered the Bevin Boy the opportunity to pursue their cycling interests.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dexter St. Clair » Mon May 12, 2008 12:29 am

There was no escaping being involved in this conscription: as soon as one turned 18 years of age then one received what was known as one's "papers"; this informed the person where and when he or she must report for a medical examination, prior to being conscripted.



except of course for the men who rediscovered their Irish roots and went "home" to the emerald and neutral isle.
"I before E, except after C" works in most cases but there are exceptions.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby samscafeamericain » Mon May 12, 2008 6:50 am

Or you played football for Glasgow Rangers and managed to hide out in the shipyards.................actually I am sorry I have stooped to the level of that bigot.

Just for the record, why would the Irish have to go home, they couldn't be conscripted? If you bother to check your facts you will find many Irishmen fought against the Nazis, my grandfather and father both served in the Royal navy, both Donegal men and both received injuries.

Why am I explaining this to you
'once you can get men to believe in absurdities you can get them to commit atrocities' ....Voltaire
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Gracie Fields wasn't the only one

Postby Dexter St. Clair » Mon May 12, 2008 7:15 am

So no one headed off to Ireland during WW2?

Are you insisting every Frenchman was in the resistance? No i didn't think so.
"I before E, except after C" works in most cases but there are exceptions.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Mon May 12, 2008 9:57 am

Dexter St. Clair wrote:
There was no escaping being involved in this conscription: as soon as one turned 18 years of age then one received what was known as one's "papers"; this informed the person where and when he or she must report for a medical examination, prior to being conscripted.

By: samscafeamericain
except of course for the men who rediscovered their Irish roots and went "home" to the emerald and neutral isle.

samscafeamericain[quote="Dexter St. Clair"]Or you played football for Glasgow Rangers and managed to hide out in the shipyards.................actually I am sorry I have stooped to the level of that bigot.

Just for the record, why would the Irish have to go home, they couldn't be conscripted? If you bother to check your facts you will find many Irishmen fought against the Nazis, my grandfather and father both served in the Royal navy, both Donegal men and both received injuries.
Why am I explaining this to you
Or you played football for Glasgow Rangers and managed to hide out in the shipyards.................actually I am sorry I have stooped to the level of that bigot.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hey guys, I'm well aware there were exceptions, and the Irish story is just one of a number of ways the conscription could be avoided... aren't there exceptions to everything. Anyway, i doubt if very many Irish men became Bevin Boys
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Re: Gracie Fields wasn't the only one

Postby samscafeamericain » Mon May 12, 2008 5:07 pm

Dexter St. Clair wrote:So no one headed off to Ireland during WW2?

Are you insisting every Frenchman was in the resistance? No i didn't think so.


Apart from chatting in the ludge what's your evidence for the first statement?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/br ... e_01.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stor ... 2835.shtml
'once you can get men to believe in absurdities you can get them to commit atrocities' ....Voltaire
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dexter St. Clair » Mon May 12, 2008 9:44 pm

In 1939 there were thousands of young Irishmen living and working in England. These individuals had no intention of either serving or being conscripted into the British Forces. After the declaration of war in 1939 there was an exodus of these young Irishmen from Great Britain back to Ireland. The returning groups became known derisively as the ‘Suitcase Brigades’.


The Coleraine Battery - 1939 - 1945
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby samscafeamericain » Tue May 13, 2008 4:36 am

Good for you, I quote the BBC based on information gathered by historians you quote a six counties unionist website based on the men's recollections.

Dearie me, you are showing colours. I bet you believe Celtic Park left its floodlights on to guide in the German bombers :D
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