Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Mon May 19, 2008 5:02 pm

Lucky Poet, pairing up experienced miners with trainees makes a lot of sense, and I can imagine the miners being not too happy with being lumbered with an unlucky conscript... but for the real miners it was scarcely a hardship deserving of any great recognition; I mean, it was only a wartime measure. After the initial departure of the BB's with whom I was familiar, there was no further discussion about their work, it was simply as if they had a job at Harlands; geez, the ones I knew continued to ride in bicycle races.

"To add to the Boys' woes at facing accusations of cowardice when off work in public..."

As I mentioned at the beginning of this topic, there was a bit of time when they were referred to as "conscript dodgers", but this was never widespread and more tongue-in-cheek than vilification.. I myself never ever heard any genuine accusations of cowardice. They would more likely have been given a pat on the back for having managed to stay out of the army! I don't think this "cowardice" thing, while certainly a part of the Great War, was widespread in, it certainly not in the Glasgow I was aware of.

I think it was unfair that the BB didn't get all the benefits the service men and women got. Maybe they will be entitled to them now that they have received their wee badge and official recognition... yes, I know, a fat lot of good it is to them now that most of them are gone.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Mon May 19, 2008 5:29 pm

onyirtodd wrote:It wasn't just the Bevin Boys. My father, who worked in Barr & Stroud all through the war talked of the same thing. It was OK around where he lived and was known but, in the city centre, dirty looks were commonplace. He also said that, if you went to the dancing on a night off from work or firewatching (from the top of Trinity College tower) it was harder to get a dance if you weren't in a uniform and there was often animosity from those who were in uniform.


Onny, although I don't ever recall anything like this going on in general, I can understand the thoughts of your father, who was no doubt well aware, that building submarine periscopes for example, was every bit as important as being conscripted into the forces. Standing in a queue at the Co-op for the butter and eggs one might have occasionally heard things like: "It's all right for her, her man's no away in the army...", but who knows, maybe she was talking about her sister-in-law with whom she didn't get along.

There were Largs numbers of young men and women in Glasgow not in uniform who worked at deferred jobs. Glasgow was highly industrialised in theses days, and a very important centre for war production. There were many places like Barr & Stroud involved in war work, the yards of course, Rolls Royce in Hillington, and so on. The city too was nearly always temporary home for many Merchant Navy men who didn't wear a uniform. Then there were the dockers for whom there was a great need following the greatly increased importance of Glasgow as a British port.

I don't know much about the dancing in Glasgow at this time, but i do know when the Canadians and the Yanks were around, British servicemen had a hard time keeping up with the competition... even the Polish soldiers had a longer wait for their dance! Well, this apparently was the way it was for the French soldiers in the Great War when the comparatively well-paid Britishers got first choice at the dances in France. Hey listen, I'll wager it's the same thing today in Largs when a RN ship calls in... the civvies will have to wait their turn to dance.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby onyirtodd » Mon May 19, 2008 5:42 pm

Dugald wrote:
onyirtodd wrote:It wasn't just the Bevin Boys. My father, who worked in Barr & Stroud all through the war talked of the same thing. It was OK around where he lived and was known but, in the city centre, dirty looks were commonplace. He also said that, if you went to the dancing on a night off from work or firewatching (from the top of Trinity College tower) it was harder to get a dance if you weren't in a uniform and there was often animosity from those who were in uniform.


Onny, although I don't ever recall anything like this going on in general, I can understand the thoughts of your father, who was no doubt well aware, that building submarine periscopes for example, was every bit as important as being conscripted into the forces. Standing in a queue at the Co-op for the butter and eggs one might have occasionally heard things like: "It's all right for her, her man's no away in the army...", but who knows, maybe she was talking about her sister-in-law with whom she didn't get along. .


You're probably correct. I know he'd much rather have been fighting. He'd been in Spain with his future father-in law and rather fancied carrying on the fight.

I think, from what he said afterwards, he was mostly making bomb-sights and 'elbow' telescopes.

Dugald wrote:I don't know much about the dancing in Glasgow at this time, but i do know when the Canadians and the Yanks were around, British servicemen had a hard time keeping up with the competition... even the Polish soldiers had a longer wait for their dance! Well, this apparently was the way it was for the French soldiers in the Great War when the comparatively well-paid Britishers got first choice at the dances in France. Hey listen, I'll wager it's the same thing today in Largs when a RN ship calls in... the civvies will have to wait their turn to dance.


Does the Real Navy ever get into Largs nowadays?
238 to 127. All in all a good afternoon's work
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Roxburgh » Tue May 20, 2008 5:39 pm

As a science student in 1939, my father was also exempted from conscription. However, like many students in his situation he had a second "job" which was teaching bomber navigators mathematics. Women were also conscripted into industry. My grandmother had to go an work for the GPO while my mother worked as a secretary at the Ministry of Fuel & Power. My mother actually wanted to join the forces but the ministry refused to let her go. The only way she could get out of the ministry was by training to be a nurse ... which she did.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby samscafeamericain » Wed May 21, 2008 4:50 am

Roxburgh wrote:As a science student in 1939, my father was also exempted from conscription. However, like many students in his situation he had a second "job" which was teaching bomber navigators mathematics. Women were also conscripted into industry. My grandmother had to go an work for the GPO while my mother worked as a secretary at the Ministry of Fuel & Power. My mother actually wanted to join the forces but the ministry refused to let her go. The only way she could get out of the ministry was by training to be a nurse ... which she did.


My own mother ended up in the rope works at Glasgow (west of Cambuslang). She was troubled with poor lung function all of her life which shortly before she died was diagnosed as residue from her time working there.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Fri Jul 04, 2008 12:32 am

I wasn't too sure where i should post this; however, since it is with respect to a wartime event with deep Glaswegian connections, i felt justified in including it as part of Wartime Glasgow.

It has come to my attention from a BBC report of July 2nd this year, that there is a campaign afoot among the Italian community in Glasgow to build an Italian cloister garden in Glasgow to commemorate the sinking of the British ship Arandora Star, which went down on July 2nd 1940 after being torpedoed by Gunther Prien, captain of U-47, the same captain and U-boat which sent 800 British sailors aboard HMS Royal Oak to the bottom of Scapa Flow in 1939.

Campaigners hope to raise £1.5m to construct the memorial next to St Andrew's Cathedral in Clyde Street.
Apparently the sinking of the Arandora Star is known among the Italian community as the "forgotten tragedy". The sinking of this ship certainly was a tragedy; she went down while carrying hundreds of Italian and German internees, and some German POW's, for internment in Canada. About 700 souls, most of whom were Italian nationals who had resided in the UK since the 30's, went down with the Arandora Star.

July 1940? Wow, Britain had one helluva mountain to climb at that time and there were few people around to help. Steps were taken at the time to safeguard the population of the UK, and little time was made available to do that which 70 years or so later might seem a bit more humane. What happened to the Italian civilians especially, was not something which should have happened, and I myself was involved in part with the unjust treatment of the Italians in Glasgow when Italy invaded France. I lived long enough to feel ashamed of what I had done, but at the time I never gave it a second thought. My eventual shame was only with regard to the looting I had done; it had nothing to do with the internment of the Glaswegian/Italians.

At that time, the 51st Highland Division for example, had just surrendered at St. Valery and the British were being hammered in many parts of the world. Britain was extremely vulnerable to the power of the mighty German Wehrmacht. Our government had to take steps to protect us, and it was considered wise to send enemy aliens abroad. I believe there was just so much disarray, perhaps even a measure of panic, in trying to organise a defence of the UK, and that there wasn't enough time for the government to give due consideration to these unlucky Italians. Those are briefly some of the dire circumstances under which the Arandora Star set sail in 1940.

It has been claimed the Arandora Star was not properly identified as carrying Italian and German nationals in waters known to be infested with U-boats, and had inadequate lifeboat provision and was grossly overloaded. If some responsible British persons overlooked this in July 1940, I'm sure they had a multitude of important thoughts on their mind, and might be entitlied to some forgivenness... many of the people involved with these decisions I'm sure knew that the ill fated Lancastria too, had been grossly overloaded! Tough times made overloading acceptable.

I have become aware from a variety of sources that barbed wire had been used on the Arandora Star. If those responsible for the transport of aliens felt barbed wire war required, well tough times call for tough measures. I have also heard mention of the troops having ill-treated their prisoners, but this is difficult to prove one way or the other. If the behavior of the prisoners demanded violent treatment, then who are we to blame?

t seems details of the memorial project were announced by First Minister Alex Salmond and Archbishop Mario Conti. Well, let me say, just off the top of my head, and without dwelling on the sometimes tiresome philosophy of war, I don't think there should be such a memorial in the UK. If they, the Italian community, want a memorial, and why shouldn't they have one if they want one, let them build it in Italy... how about an Italian cloister garden, somewhere in Rome, rather than next to St Andrew's Cathedral in Clyde Street. Glasgow.

I won't contribute a penny to the cost of the memorial project.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Josef » Fri Jul 04, 2008 5:48 am

That is, to say the least, a bit unkind of you, Dugald.

My own opinions on this matter are slightly coloured; my grandmother lived next door to one of the 'aliens' interned. His wife and children were left to fend for themselves; scandalised, my grandmother went out of her way to help them out - over sixty years later, the first thing said when I went into their family cafe was always 'How's your grandmother?'

Many of these 'enemies' had sons serving in the British armed services, and had lived here for decades. Violence on board - if you were being torn from your home of decades, your job and your family, and being put on an overcrowded boat to God knows where, would you shrug your shoulders and whistle a merry tune?

It wouldn't, in my opinion, be more appropriate to have the memorial in Italy. This was a British tragedy. We should be proud to host the memorial.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Roxburgh » Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:04 pm

It is always dangerous to judge historical actions with today's standards. Lest we forget, Italy had declared war on us and Italian nationals were, therefore, enemy aliens.

A friend of my father, a former professor at Glasgow University, was a German jew studying in the UK when war was declared. He was also interned and found that approach to be entirely reasonable. His parents, back in Germany, committed suicide as they were about to be sent to a concentration camp. He ended up marrying a British girl and never went back to Germany.

There are lots of stories about the war. Some are good, many are bad. Most British families have stories. In my case the uncle who was captured at Dunkirk, the cousin who died in a Japanese PoW camp. My mother remembers the whistle of the German bombs as they fell. Neither of my parents had/have a good word to say about the Germans or the Japanese (my mother is still alive). Britain did what she had to do to survive. Mistakes were made but, ultimately, the world is a better place for the allied victory.

Those Italian nationals were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was unfortunate but much less so than the fate of many many others around the world. If there is blame, then it should be on Mussolini and his opportunistic declaration of war and not on the British authorities for doing what they had to do.

I view this Italian cloister garden with suspicion. Why now when most of the Italians who were alive at the time are now dead? Why for the Italian community? What about the other nasty things that happened in wartime like the sinking of the Athenia? For me, this is an opportunitic bit of politics on the part of Salmond and Conti ... that is all.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby cell » Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:38 pm

This does smack of political point scoring by a pair of politicians who are well known for this sort of thing. Having said that there is no doubt Britain had a hand in the deaths of these unfortunate souls and it is right to have a memorial. What is not right is the cost, £1.5m is a ridiculous sum to spend when there more deserving causes amongst the living (Chinese earthquake victims, Zimbabwe refugees etc). How about a couple of grand each from the British and German governments (they sank it after all!) and spend it on a nice stone cairn and a bronze memorial plague either where the ship set sail from or the nearest land point.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dexter St. Clair » Fri Jul 04, 2008 5:09 pm

See you' all down at Dungavel for a discussion on the morals of the day. Then may eb a trip to the git.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Socceroo » Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:04 pm

I do not have any problem with a memorial for the Arandora Star. Also i don't think there is political point scoring going on with anyone.

It should be noted that the Arandora Star had some 90 children who were evacuees on it in addition to over 700 Italians who were internees and nearly 500 Geman POW's of whom around 100 were Merchant Seamen.

The Arandora Star i understand sailed from Liverpool, not Glasgow, although after the Ship went down off Malin Head the survivors were brought back to Greenock and Glasgow with many of them being taken to the Mearnskirk Hospital.

66 of the evacuees were amongst the 821 who died. The remainder of those who perished comprised of some 714 deportees and over 40 guards and crew. There were 857 survivors.

I really don't know where you are coming from on this Dugald. The Italian Community in Glasgow and the rest of the UK were treated appallingly. Building a memorial in Rome as you suggest would take it completely out of context of the situation that it would supposed to be paying tribute to.

How about building a memorial in Canada? The destination they never reached.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:09 pm

Josef wrote:That is, to say the least, a bit unkind of you, Dugald.
My own opinions on this matter are slightly coloured; my grandmother lived next door to one of the 'aliens' interned. His wife and children were left to fend for themselves; scandalised, my grandmother went out of her way to help them out - over sixty years later, the first thing said when I went into their family cafe was always 'How's your grandmother?'
Many of these 'enemies' had sons serving in the British armed services, and had lived here for decades. Violence on board - if you were being torn from your home of decades, your job and your family, and being put on an overcrowded boat to God knows where, would you shrug your shoulders and whistle a merry tune?
It wouldn't, in my opinion, be more appropriate to have the memorial in Italy. This was a British tragedy. We should be proud to host the memorial.


Josef, you say:

"That is, to say the least, a bit unkind of you, Dugald."

I'm not too sure in what sense you feel I am being a bit unkind. I see myself as neither inconsiderate nor unsympathetic to what happened to the Arandora Star and the Italian aliens. For example I said:

"What happened to the Italian civilians especially, was not something which should have happened".

I also drew attention to some of the victims as being "... Italian nationals who had resided in the UK since the 30's", and I even mentioned my own, "...eventual shame " with regard to the looting in which I had taken part when Italy "stabbed France in the back" (see the "Glasgow's Day of Infamy" earlier on this thread). I also spoke understandingly, of their wish for a memorial when I said: "...why shouldn't they have one if they want one [a memorial]".

Roxburgh reminds us that it is "...always dangerous to judge historical actions with today's standards". I agree wholeheartedly with this warning. On June 10th, 1940, when the Italian Army invaded France ( just two days before the 51st HD surrendered at St Valery) the Allies had nothing with which to fight the Italian army. Britain's only weapon against the Italians was music-hall jokes and this led to the impression the Italians were a piece of cake. They weren't, and their escapades at Alexandria, Gibraltar, and Malta, showed the Italians to be as gallant as the other combatants. So what? Simply wish to make the point that Britain had cause to fear Italy, especially in the Middle East.

I can readily understand the relationship that developed between your grandmother and the Italian woman whose husband was interned. What this Italian woman went through though, was hardly different from what a very large number of British women were going through... at this time, the Dunkirk debacle had yet to sort itself out, the fate of the hundreds of Glaswegian soldiers in the 51st HD had yet to be established, the Lancastria was only 7 days short of becoming Britain's worst ever maritime disaster, and the country was in great fear of being bombed into submission. Yes, Josef, it is always dangerous to judge historical actions with today's standards

You say this was a British tragedy. I can only agree with that. But can you give me one good reason why, out of Britain's countless WWII trgedies, that of the Andorra Star should receive special treatment in Glasgow? Shall we ignore the Athenia, the Lancastria, the Empress of Britain, the Royal Oak, the Exmouth, the Hood, the Prince of Wales, the Repulse, et al? No we can't reasonably be expected to build memorials for all of these disasters, that is why we build town, shire, and national memorials. Is there some reason why the Italian victims of the Andorra Star should receive special remembrance? I don't think so.

I see that both Cell and Roxburgh make reference to political posturing. I am not familiar with Scottish politics and know nothing about this fellow Salmond or Conti. I do know a bit about politicians however, and I'm well aware they have a tendency to hook onto any group which might further their political aims.
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby HollowHorn » Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:35 pm

Socceroo, another great post, you are on a roll, son. :wink:
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Dugald » Sat Jul 05, 2008 12:07 am

Thanks for the further information you have provided on this topic Socceroo, it was good of you to dig it out. I think it adds substance to the question one might ask, as to why a special memorial to the Italians lost on the Arandora Star should be built in Glasgow?

Should we perhaps set up a fund to build a memorial to the 66 British children who perished in the tragedy. Hmmm, if we did this, in what part of Britain should we build the memorial? Or should we keep it in Glasgow because some of the survivors were brought to Mearnskirk Hospital? We could of course ask similar questions for each of the different groups aboard the Arandora Star. No, no, this question isn't meant to be facetious, it is meant simply to exaggerate the problem of recognising a particular group of people and excluding others.

"I really don't know where you are coming from on this Dugald"

I don't follow you on this. Maybe I don't understand what "where you are coming from" means (I come from Govan by the way). Anyway, I felt I expressed my thoughts as to why I did not believe a special Italian memorial should be built in Glasgow. The poor treatment of the Italian community in Britain is clearly acknowledged in my post in a variety of ways. (I'd hesitate to call the treatment of the Italians "appalling"). For example I stated:

"What happened to the Italian civilians especially, was not something which should have happened, and I myself was involved in part with the unjust treatment of the Italians in Glasgow when Italy invaded France."

I don't think building a memorial in Rome would be out of context because the ship was sunk in a war in which Italy was involved, and because some of the victims in the disaster were Italian, and because the intent to build a memorial stems from Italian people. Now could you go a wee bit beyond the Mearnskirk Hospital bit, as to why it should be built in Glasgow?
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Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

Postby Socceroo » Sat Jul 05, 2008 1:08 am

Dugald wrote:I don't think building a memorial in Rome would be out of context because the ship was sunk in a war in which Italy was involved, and because some of the victims in the disaster were Italian, and because the intent to build a memorial stems from Italian people. Now could you go a wee bit beyond the Mearnskirk Hospital bit, as to why it should be built in Glasgow?


Because Dugald :

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Tedesco, Raffaele 03.09.1889 Mocera ? Edinburgh S
Togneri, Giuseppe 19.03.1889 Barga (LU) Dunbar S
Tuzi, Pasquale 01.04.1898 Picinisco (FR) Edinburgh S
Valente, Adolf 15.06.1900 Cervaro (FR) Edinburgh S
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Third Stripe
Third Stripe
 
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