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Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2007 12:33 pm
by Dugald
A Wartime Quallie

In order to get into high school back in the early 'forties, and to determine which type of courses were open to the student, one had to sit the much-feared Scottish Qualifying Examination. I have used "much feared" here, although I must admit that my interest in education did not, as I recall, stretch to having any great fear of this examination. I use the expression simply rather, to capture the somewhat general awe that seemed to pervade all talk about this examination. My lack of fear had nothing whatever to do with my having an inherent academic brilliance. On the contrary, I was a permanent resident in the first row of desks in the classroom - the custom being, bright pupils in the back row, with varying degrees of competence right down to the front row of desks, where those of least competence were to be found.

I sat the examination during the dark days of the war, 1941 I think, but I'm not sure. Because of the war, school had been very much a hit and miss affair. At the Evacuation it was a long time before regular classes got underway, and even when they had, it was only a seat at a pew in a church along with a crowd of other pupils from a wide variety of ages; not a good learning situation. And in Glasgow, in the wake of the Evacuation, there was no school at all. The schools did not open for teaching until a reasonable number of returned evacuees justified their opening, and this did not happen in Govan until well into 1940. When my school, Greenfield School in Govan, did open, for a long time classes were only part time. Since only the ground floor was allowed to be opened in view of the threat of air-raids, some students went in the morning and some in the afternoon. During 1939 and 1940, school for me really was very much a hit and miss affair.

At Greenfield, a semblance of regular classes in a well-organized school had been achieved by the time this dreaded examination arrived for the senior class, in which I was a pupil. Being the senior class, it had the room right beside the headmaster's office, and he, a Mr Robson I believe, could stand in the shadow of his doorway and look directly into our classroom. The teacher for the school's senior class was a Miss Miller, a highly competent person in every respect and no doubt looked upon as the senior teacher in the school. She enjoyed a reputation of being a very good teacher.

On the day of the big event everything was completely under control when I, along with all the other up-tight pupils, entered the classroom under the watchful eyes of both Miss Miller and the headmaster. As I recall, I was not at all perturbed with what was going on. This frame of mind certainly did not stem from being confident. I had never once cracked a schoolbook at home in my life, and anything I had learned had simply rubbed off onto me by virtue of my being there. I was simply indifferent to the whole affair, and I'm lost as to why I felt like this. It strikes me as strange now, because while I always sat in the front row of the class, all my pals sat in the back row.

Miss Miller had the papers and everything laid out for us, and then shortly we were given the big word, "Go!". Forty pen nibs started to scratch all at once and Greenfield's 1941 Scottish Qualifying Examination was underway. How much time we were allowed to write this examination is something I have forgotten. However, when we were deep into writing the exam Miss Miller, who had been sitting atop her high desk chair, dutifully scrutinizing the entire class, did a very strange thing-- she left the classroom.

As soon as I became aware of Miss Miller's absence, I, as would have been expected from any self-respecting delinquent Govan rascal, was up at the back row in the classroom getting all the answers to the questions I'd been unable to handle. By the time Miss Miller was back in the classroom, I was sitting at my desk, no doubt with a self-satisfied grin on my face.

Here then we have the school's senior, and highly competent teacher, committing a cardinal examination sin - she left the students unsupervised. Now, this teacher left a room which was located right next to the headmaster's office, obviously aware that Mr Robson could at any time have seen that the "quallie-students" were unsupervised. Both Miss Miller and the headmaster were well aware that there was no shortage of really bright pupils in that wartime Govan class, and they were no doubt just as well aware of what to expect from most of these Govan pupils if the room were unsupervised. It is my feeling that they conspired to leave the Qualification Examination pupils unattended, well aware that pupils, such as yours truly, would avail themselves of the opportunity to cheat. They knew the difficulties these young people had suffered regarding their education, and they took it upon themselves to give them a "wartime chance".

Did I suffer any shame or contrition as a result of having cheated? Not that I can recall, but I certainly don't think I would have.

I did pass the examination. Well at least I must have as I finished up at Govan High School in a class along with all the bright students. It didn't take the French teacher, Big Ronnie McKimm, very long to sort me out. He was trying to teach me French when I was still at the "yous" and "I seen" stage with my English. I got 17% in the Christmas exam, and I probably copied my neighbour to earn that! I got the heave and finished up where I belonged.

What about the headmaster and the teacher? Was it wrong what they had done? Yes, it probably was. But, had I been the teacher there, I too, would have left the pupils unsupervised ... and blamed the war.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 11:02 am
by Dugald
Wartime Youth Organizations.

At the start of the war in 1939 I lived in Govan and I was a member of the 108th Wolf Cub Pack which met in Drumoyne school. I don't recall what happened to this pack when the war started when so many of the cubs, like myself, were evacuated. When I returned from the Evacuation in 1940(?) there were, as far as I was aware, no more active youth organisations in Govan.

It was not until early in 1941 that I became aware of the revival of youth organisations. A school pal invited me to join the 36th Troop of the Glasgow Boy Scouts, which I did. This Troop met in the Anglican church on Greenfield St. at the corner of Langlands Rd. in Govan, and I thoroughly enjoyed my short membership in this troop. I think I was a Boy Scout for only a few months, but I learned a lot about camping at Auchingillen and Arden, Loch Lomond. This was a period deep in the war and all my thoughts were filled what was happening in the war, and the Boy Scout movement, despite their salvage forays, seemed a wee bit too remote from these war happenings... I was looking for something a bit more militaristic.

My enthusiasm for things martial centred on the Royal Navy. I was very keen on the R.N. and would have loved to have been a sailor. I recall trying to join the Royal Navy Cadets on Whitefield Rd and being told to come back 'next year'. In 1941 an ad appeared in the Glasgow papers announcing there were going to be four new Royal Navy Cadet branches opening in Glasgow, one of which would be in the school up beside the Westway Cinema on Paisley Rd. I stood in a queue to enroll in these navy cadets; I think they were to be called "HMS Howe" (either that or the "Anson") cadets. After waiting for hours, I was finally before the recruiting officer, resplendent in his naval uniform. That's as far as Dugald got, he was told again to came back 'next year'. Dugald was of course disappointed, but totally undaunted.

This tendency to things martial was not mine alone. In my class at Greenfield School there was a group of boys who were all imbued with this getting-into-uniform fad, but their interest focused more on getting into the army. This desire was encouraged by one lad, who was already actively involved with soldiering and belonged to the 6th Btn. Highland Light Infantry ( H.L.I.) Cadet Force, which met weekly at the Headquarters for the real 6th Btn. HLI, at 60 Main St, in Bridgeton---a hundred miles from Govan. This lad cut a real military figure when he walked down Elderpark St., in his '1914/18' uniform, swinging his kilt with the swagger of a real soldier.
Since I couldn't becoming a sailor, I thought I'd join the army cadets, and allowed myself to be talked into joining the HLI cadets. By the time I got around to joining, at the beginning of 1941, a Govan branch of the cadet force had been established and met in a hall, used by the Home Guard, inside the Destructer complex at the top of Helen St. in Govan. There were only a few of the boys who had uniforms and all the rest of the lads wore their normal short trousers. But there were great expectations for this new 'force'.

The new force was under the command of a Lieutenant Gordon, an ex-soldier who served with the H.L.I. in the Great War. This man was your quintessential Scottish soldier, straight as a ramrod, and very enthusiastic about soldiering. He was assisted by his second in command, Lt. Berry, a very keen and efficient man, to whom the success of the Govan force owed a great deal. These two men took us through basic foot drilling and rifle drill in the rather sparse accommodation at the Destructer.

We didn't have uniforms, but we had access to real weapons, well, kind of... There was a rack of rifles which I believe, belonged to the Home Guard. They were known as "Ross" rifles, and had been manufactured in Canada. They weighed a ton! Oh, they might not have been all that heavy, and perhaps it was just because we were just young boys, that they felt that way. Anyway, we also practiced rifle drill with these rifles. It could be that we did this only during the absence of our two commanders; it could have been a situation where we were handling guns, but we weren't supposed to be handling guns, I'm a bit foggy on this.

The Govan cadet force didn't spend too much time at the Helen St. hall. Not long after I joined we moved into Copeland Rd. School where we could drill and practice all sorts of military craft regardless of the weather. Soon after moving here we were told to report to Headquarters in Bridgeton to get our uniforms. This was a real fun night! We lined up for ages as each boy was equipped with real current army uniforms. They gave me a kilt, which absolutely delighted me! However, I had the kilt, but everything else I had was for the British battle dress uniform and I looked absolutely stupid with the silly wee khaki forage cap, a khaki blouse with big baggy pockets, a kilt and puttees! ( I soon modified the uniform to my own specifications). We all immediately dressed up as soldiers in Bridgeton, and got on the Govan tramcar at the wartime forces' reduced fare rate... wow, we were soldiers (my foot, the conductress was laughing at us!).

We would wear our uniforms to school on Armistice Day, and any other such formal occasions. There were a lot pupils at the school who were in the Army Cadets, Navy Cadets or Air Training Corps, not to mention the Boys Brigade, Boy Scouts, or Girl Guides, who wore their uniforms to school. Why? Probably because there was some pleasure in being dressed on these special occasions. No doubt there was a measure of 'showing off' involved too.

Some weekends during the summer we paraded out at Duntocher (between Knightswood and Milngavie-- a long way from Govan!) and went on field exercises on the wide moors there. This was great fun and we loved it... yes, crawling around in the wet grass and mud playing at soldiers was fun and it was good fresh-air exercise. We practiced field maneuvers of all kinds under the guidance of our capable officers, and learned about map-reading. (I still recall a word I learned on these maneuvers: 'copse', and I thought the officer was talking about a 'corpse' ...what the heck was a 'bushy-top corpse'?). After a day out on these moors we'd go home exhausted.

Some of us, oh maybe a dozen or so, also went out to the Duntocher moors camping for the weekend and carrying out our own 'maneuvers'... no officers or anyone of authority with us. On these maneuvers we wore all kinds of pieces of military hardware that we'd picked up at the Destructer. A few of us for example, had these long French bayonets from the Great War and we'd carry them, but of course we never did anything with them, but they helped with the imagination. Our tents were all pitched in military style, and we had our field-kitchen and a fire to do our cooking.
Some of our 'own' maneuvers took place at the River Cart near Inchinnan. At the road over the stone bridge there was a Home Guard blockhouse and other concrete road blocks right beside the river, ideal for playing at soldiers. The same crowd who went to Duntocher took part in these ad hoc exercises. We took this all very seriously and when it came to plunging into the Cart at high tide, wearing full uniform, in the simulation of a commando raid, there was no backing off. Imagine running into the Cart wearing a kilt! I can still recall the discomfort of running around wearing a soaking wet kilt! (When I think of this discomfort it brings to mind the complaints at the beginning of the war when Scottish regiments were wearing the much more sensible battle-dress and no longer expected to wear kilts except on special dress-uniform occasions.).

After a year or so we left the Copeland Rd. School and moved into the drill hall at the corner of Elder St. and Fairfield St. in Govan.This was much better and very much a military establishment with real active service soldiers occasionally making an appearance. Real rifles of .22 calibre became available and we learned how to fire them at our indoor butts. Lots of other 'modern' equipment became available and some cadets were made to branch out into more technical aspects of the army. Well, they weren't really 'made to', one could decline any such invitation to become 'specialized'.

I was one who didn't decline the 'specialized' invitation and finished up taking a course in signaling which required me to travel every Sunday afternoon to the headquarters' building in Bridgetown. I didn't mind it at first, probably because I already knew the Morse code, but when it started to require doing homework, well this wasn't what I'd had in mind; when I was told to give up my kilt because we were going on field exercises which required laying wires, I frowned somewhat on this and started to absent myself. My interest was anyway, waning of its own volition. My Army Cadet days ended shortly thereafter.

We never ever did anything directly associated with the war. We didn't even collect waste-paper and scrap metal for the war effort... heaven forbid, that was the work for the Boy Scouts! There were rumours galore that we were to be used as messengers during air-raids, and also as messengers for the Home Guard if they ever became involved with defence, but these rumours never got beyond the rumour stage. Perhaps if the war had lasted longer, a reason for having army cadets might have become apparent: we did learn parade-ground stuff and had experience in firing rifles, which might have been advantageous if we'd gone into the real H.L.I.
The youth of wartime Glasgow were never involved in training for, or or in actual defence of, the U.K. the way German youth actually fired guns in the defence of Germany, but I believe this is only because Glasgow's youth were never asked.

[b][u]Glasgow's Day of Infamy[/u][/b]

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 10:50 am
by Dugald
Glasgow's Day of Infamy (67 years ago today).

Among the many memorable days in Glasgow during the war, the day of Italy's infamous entry into the war, the "stab in the back" stands among them. There was a considerable number of Italian ice-cream and chip shops in Glasgow. These Italians, who apparently settled in Glasgow just after the end of the Great War, and by the general standard of the areas where their businesses were located, had prospered. The day Italy invaded France, most of the male Italians in the U.K. were interned right away without having been given time to arrange for someone to look after their various businesses.

This was the season of the "bogie" in Glasgow. This was simply a vehicle consisting of a plank , wooden box, and two pairs of pram wheels. That Italy had entered the war in such a cowardly fashion was not unknown to four young lads that morning of June 10th, 1940, including myself, as they pushed their bogie along the street, but certainly they never set out to be a part of what took place in Glasgow that day.

When they reached the corner of Crossloan Rd. and Uist St. in Govan, where Meschi's fish & chip shop was located, they noticed a great crowd of people standing around the closed door, at which a policeman stood. From across the road a passing soldier shouted something over at the policeman and the policeman took off after him. A woman ran into the nearby close and reappeared shortly with a key with which she opened the door to the Italian fish & chip shop. When the door was opened a horde of yelling children, myself included , rushed in over the sawdust-covered floor.

I clearly recall jumping over the counter and grabbing as many bottles of pop as I could carry. Once I had the bottles I couldn't get out again fast enough. There were cold fish-suppers all over the place and salt shakers were being thrown from one side of the shop to the other. The place was in an uproar. I did eventually manage to get out with my loot as did all my pals and we scooted off down the street leaving the ever-growing howling mob fighting over whatever was left in the shop. We, and others, scoffed the pop, and took the empty bottles back to another shop for the deposits.

Rumours abounded as to what was happening to the "Tallies" (not a disrespectful word; it simply meant "ice-cream shop") in other parts off Glasgow, but a lull had set in as far as we were concerned. We were still a bit on the timid side and not too sure if we were to get away with this clear act of lawlessness, which was so foreign to our normal way of life.

There were great expectations regarding what was going to happen that night when darkness came. While my participation in the "Maschi caper" had been totally spontanious, this was not the case with what happened the same night.

At night I found myself in the company of fellow army cadets.We knew of a "Tally" shop nearby on Craigton Rd. at Nimmo Dr. that had survived the earlier looting of the day, and it was here that some of us again 'celebrated' Italy's entry into the war. When we arrived we found a crowd milling around the barred front door of the shop. No policemen were there, but for a long time nothing happened since no one was too sure how far they could go. As the night grew darker, the mob-confidence grew, and periodic door-hammering took place. There were no anti-Italian slogans or anything like that to lend justification to these acts of sheer vandelism.

The large front plate-glass window was smashed and some older hero who had gone in through the broken window opened the front door and set off a stampede of hooligens, wild at the prospect of clearing the well-stocked confectionary and tobacco shelves of the Tally shop. Jelly beans, that's what stands out clearly in my mind as the first thing I noticed as I rushed into the shop: some boy had thrown a big box of them up in the air and it burst open and scattered the beans all over the place.

At a great dash I reached the counter, climbed up to the top shelf and grabbed a carton of boxes of Cadbury's dairy milk chocolate--not one box, a carton containing many boxes. Seconds after the door had been thrown open I was scooting up the street, on my own, with the box tucked under my arm. I just wanted to be out of it and running. Through a close, over a dyke, up a wall, and I was atop the roof of Galbraith's Bakery. The Glasgow black-out was good. I still remember sitting all alone on that roof: everything was jet black and quiet, no lights on the windows of the many tenement houses, and only the occasional noises from the night-shift workers in the factory below, and the odd screeching of the tramcar on the other side of the dark towering tenements. I hid the box then made my way back to the street and innocently watched the proceeding as the lootings continued until two bobbies arrived on the scene. Next day every kid on my street had their fill of chocolates.

I don't recall feeling any remorse over what we had done; neither do I recall having felt particularly justified. There was no conscious rationalising, it was simply a matter of it was done and "so what". There is no doubt it was a deplorable thing to have done to these Italian people, people who as far as I was aware, were nothing less than model citizens. The financial losses were of course covered, but the way the people were treated much surely have hurt them very much.

One is tempted to say it was just a bunch of hooligens. But this is not true. The two shops at which I took part in the looting, and in fact all the looted shops in Glasgow, by the very nature of their business, were in totally built-up areas surrounded by tenement buildings with lots of adult people. The young people could have been stopped if there had been a desire to do so. Indeed, two policemen lived in the tenement on Craigton Rd. where the looted cafe was located. Perhaps in June 1940 one had reason to think differently.

When the shops were looted the proprietors were in custody pending interment as enemy aliens, or pending release as British subjects. As far as I know they all returned to their shops and with few exceptions remained in business in Glasgow throughout the war. The plate glass windows in the majority of Italian shops had to be boarded up rendering them easily recognizable as cafes etc. It became the practice in the cafes where a son was serving in the British forces to have a picture of the son in uniform prominantly displayed. Perhaps this was to remind the Glasgow people of the gross stupidity in smashing their property when Italy entered the war.

What happened on Crossloan Rd. and Craigton Rd. in Govan that day, were not isolated incidents, the same thing happened throughout the city. The shops looted were generally shops whose proprieters knew of, and were well known by, those who did the looting. The looters looted the shops in which for years they had bought their "pokey-hats". "99's", and "double Woodbines". The younger Italian family members had been born in Glasgow and lived there all their lives, and while many young Glaswegian/Italians were away soldiering for the British, their parents' shops were smashed by their own customers... such was Glasgow's day of infamy.


While I was an army cadet in 1941 a group of us, the same group who looted the cafe, often went camping, dressed in uniform, to the moor above Duntocher, just outside Glasgow. One Sunday night we dropped into a cafe in Whitinch on our way home. A young Italian/Glaswegian woman served us our cups of hot peas. It was here I learned the true feelings of Glasgow's Italian community regarding their treatment back in 1940. She was terribly bitter and let us know exactly what she thought of it in a Glasgow accent every bit as rich as ours and using the choicest of Glaswegian words ( women didn't swear much in those days and she is the first woman I ever heard use the crudest of Glasgow's many curse words). She showed us several photos of her relatives serving in the British forces. This was late in 1941 and the shop was still badly damaged from the blitz. We travelled home without saying too much to each other, and we never went back to that cafe.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 12:07 pm
by Graham
Thank you for taking the time to post all of that, Dugald, it was a great read :)

I remember my gran's second husband, who was a member of one of the well-known Italian fish and chip shop-owning families in Glasgow boasting (tongue-in-cheek) how he had done his bit for the Italian war effort by enlisting in the British army as a cook! The option to enlist was given to all Italian men of the appropriate age as an alternative to internment.

Something else that I wonder if you, or anyone else here, could help me with, regards children who were evacuated to the countryside. My mother and her younger sister were evacuated to Overtown after a bomb landed in the back court of their block. Apparently when the inspector came round to check the damage to the flat he advised them not to slam the door on the way out as the rear wall of the building was likely to collapse at any moment.

My grandparents stayed in Glasgow and the children were packed off along with their grandmother to stay with a distant relative in Overtown. My mum told me a story of her how one cold winter's day she had been sent off to school wearing a rather large, ill-fitting old jumper. Normally this wouldn't have been worth a mention but it just so happened that that day the school photographs were taken and my mum recalls that her grandmother was less than impressed when she discovered what had happened!

Fast-forward to May this year and we are researching the family tree. One of my mum's cousins calls up to say she has unearthed some old family photos and would we like them? Of course we said yes and a few days later through the letterbox pops a package filled with a host of photographic memories of times past. One particular picture engenders great mirth amongst the family as, yes you've guessed it, it was my mum's woolly jumper school picture!

The mirth turned to puzzlement when on inspecting the photograph it turned out not to be just that but was rather, a postcard. Unfortunately the corner where the title/description usually resides had been torn off (we suspect by my great grandmother!) which made us wonder exactly what had been written there.

We can't fathom as to why this picture is on a postcard, but my mum does recall a teacher asking all those who had been bombed out to identify themselves. This was shortly after the bombings in Clydebank and there were many evacuees from that area at the school and were wondering if perhaps these children were specially photographed and the pictures printed on postcards for the children to send back home to Glasgow and that my mother was included in the group by mistake.

Does anyone have any knowledge of this?

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:31 am
by ninatoo
Thanks Dugald for the latest entry. My great grandmother married an Italian immigrant in 1910, but I don't think they had any businesses at the time of WW2. My own grandfather did change his name in 1941, to his mother's maiden name, which has been that line ever since. I heard he did so to avoid interment, but then he had joined the British army in 1940, so who knows? Maybe both things were to avoid interment.

Graham, I didn't know the Italians were given the option of joining up or interment. I wish I could ask my Granda about this but he is long gone. I believe that he signed up while living in Coventry, England, but then I could be wrong...


PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:45 am
by Graham
ninatoo wrote:Thanks Dugald for the latest entry. My great grandmother married an Italian immigrant in 1910, but I don't think they had any businesses at the time of WW2. My own grandfather did change his name in 1941, to his mother's maiden name, which has been that line ever since. I heard he did so to avoid interment, but then he had joined the British army in 1940, so who knows? Maybe both things were to avoid interment.

Graham, I didn't know the Italians were given the option of joining up or interment. I wish I could ask my Granda about this but he is long gone. I believe that he signed up while living in Coventry, England, but then I could be wrong...


Nina, changing or anglicizing a name wouldn't have removed the threat of internment as the details of all aliens in the country at the time would be held on record. I know this because two generations further back the same side of the family came over from Germany via Ireland (we are a cosmopolitan lot :)) and my great great grandfather, who had anglicized his name only narrowly missed internment because he was naturalized and had been in the UK long enough to meet the requirements for exemption. On all of the census records he is noted as a "Naturalized British Citizen" and his place of birth is clearly recorded as Germany.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:54 am
by ninatoo
Thanks Graham,

Well it is odd, because my granda was born in Glasgow. On some other paperwork he had stated that his father became naturalised years before the war, but I haven't found evidence of this. I think he may have just said so because the date of that paperework was 1945...still probably things were a bit sensitive. I did read that some of Italian descent were still under threat even though they were born in Britain. So maybe Grabda was just making doubly sure!

He has always fascinated me because I never knew him, and never knew why my surname was chosen until I started my family history. My granny and him divorced years before I was born, and it has only been through my family research of the last five years that we have again made contact with that side of the family. I now have photos of him, some of them in WW2 when he was riding motorbikes all over Germany. And my Dad now has contact with his two brothers again, who he had not seen or heard of for forty there is a bonus to this hobby of mine.


PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:04 am
by Graham
ninatoo wrote:Thanks Graham,

Well it is odd, because my granda was born in Glasgow. On some other paperwork he had stated that his father became naturalised years before the war, but I haven't found evidence of this. I think he may have just said so because the date of that paperework was 1945...still probably things were a bit sensitive. I did read that some of Italian descent were still under threat even though they were born in Britain. So maybe Grabda was just making doubly sure!

He has always fascinated me because I never knew him, and never knew why my surname was chosen until I started my family history. My granny and him divorced years before I was born, and it has only been through my family research of the last five years that we have again made contact with that side of the family. I now have photos of him, some of them in WW2 when he was riding motorbikes all over Germany. And my Dad now has contact with his two brothers again, who he had not seen or heard of for forty there is a bonus to this hobby of mine.


I agree genealogy can be a great hobby. I have uncovered many interesting things about my mother's family, including a couple of skeletons in the closet that no-one knew about :wink:

With regard to the name chosen when anglicizing I still haven't figured out why my family chose the name they did as it wasn't an obvious choice. However, their local church in Glasgow shared the same name so that may well be why they chose it - I'm sure I'll get to the bottom of it all someday :D

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:24 am
by Dugald
Glad you got a bit of a read out of my Glasgow's Day of Infamy post Graham. I had a chuckle at your wee joke about your step-grandfather's contribution to the Italian war effort by cooking for the British Army. Based on my observations of shop-window pictures, I'd guess there were in fact quite a lot of young Italian/Glaswegians who served in the British forces during the war, and I'm sure they did a good job no matter in which branch they served.

Never heard of anything about the "slamming door" warnings. At that level of danger I'd say it was high time to make a hasty retreat!

Sorry too, that I can't help you with your "woolly jumper school picture". I don't ever recall having had my picture taken at the Evacuation. ( I wish I had, then my family too, could have had great mirth at seeing me in an appearance which I'm sure must have been very much waif-like!). The likelihood of the picture-taking having something to do with the 'bombed-out' children seems a reasonable thought, since they and their family were likely to have suffered more than the normal evacuees, and entitled to a wee bit more consideration, even if it was only a picture to send home to the family. Hope someone can help you a bit more than my effort. Enjoyed your comments... and your pictures.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:59 am
by Dugald
ninatoo wrote:Thanks Dugald for the latest entry. My great grandmother married an Italian immigrant in 1910, but I don't think they had any businesses at the time of WW2. My own grandfather did change his name in 1941, to his mother's maiden name, which has been that line ever since. I heard he did so to avoid interment, but then he had joined the British army in 1940, so who knows? Maybe both things were to avoid interment.

Graham, I didn't know the Italians were given the option of joining up or interment. I wish I could ask my Granda about this but he is long gone. I believe that he signed up while living in Coventry, England, but then I could be wrong...


Nina, interesting information about your own grandfather. It would seem he changed his name while he was in the British Army, and perhaps before Italy entered the war. Anyway, depending on his age, conscription was introduceed according to the following:

"The Military Training Act of 27 April 1939 responded to Hitler's threat of aggression in Europe. All British men aged 20 and 21 who were fit and able were required to take six months' military training. ".

Italy didn't enter the war until about nine months after it started, and during this time the UK tried every which way to keep Italy out, and it's unlikely anything would have been done in the UK to annoy Mussolini. By this I mean Italian/UKsters would have been called up, just like the British (these early conscripts were just the "Territorials": stay-at-home soldiers).

As Graham says, changing or anglicizing a name wouldn't have removed the threat of internment, which seems to make sense. In Govan where I lived the pictures of Italian family members in the forces appeared as soon as the windows were covered with wood, so clearly these Glaswegian/Italians had been in the forces before Italy entered the war. By the way, the fact that they were in the forces didn't necessarily mean they had been conscripted, they could just as well have volunteered.

Ferr Saturday 1942

PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 10:30 am
by Dugald
A Glasgow Fair Wartime Holiday :

Despite the war and the government's much-publicised, stay-at-home, slogan, "Is Your Journey Really Necessary?", we did go away for a holiday every year of the war. While I was young the venue was Campbeltown, my parents' home-town. Getting to this small town situated almost at the tip of the Mull of Kintyre in Argyllshire was a major problem. The old steamers, the Davaar and Dalriada, ceased sailing from Glasgow at the start of the war and went off to fight for us; the passenger traffic from Glasgow had to be handled by bus over 137 miles, many of them over twisting, turning, mountain roads,. There were of course fewer buses than there was demand for and this, together with all the other problems stemming from the war, made the whole trip an exciting adventure.

The most memorable trip occurred in the summer of 1942. Our family plan was that my mother, my sister and I, would travel down by bus and my father was going to cycle all the way by road at a later date.

As was usually the case, my mother anticipated the problems of getting on a bus and we were at Robertson Street up near the Broomielaw, well in advance of the departure time of the buses: we arrived at the bus station at about midnight and the buses were not scheduled to leave until 8 am. Despite being early, there was already a considerable number of people formed in a queue at the point on Robertson Street from which the buses left. There was no well-appointed waiting room in these days - we simply formed a queue on the pavement and waited, a war-time custom at which we were all very good.

Sometime in the middle of the night a suggestion was made that we try and get something to eat. There were of course no cafes or shops around darkened Robertson Street in the middle of a wartime night in Glasgow, so if something were to be obtained then someone would have to hoof it to the only place where it might be possible to obtain food - Glasgow Central Station.

I and some other happy holiday-makers went to the station. We walked along the blackout shadows of the Broomielaw in the middle of the street, passing rather a lot of unsavoury looking characters both civilian and in uniform. Going up Oswald Street to Hope Street we followed a marching column of sailors. It seemed odd that these sailors would be here in the middle of the night. They were the scruffiest bunch of sailors I ever did see. There were no tally bands on their hats and they wore no three-stripe collars. All of them carried their kit bags and hammocks. Perhaps they were some ship's company going on leave; anyway, we followed them, feeling safe in their company, to the Central Station.

The station was very much a hectic place even at this time of the morning. At the London platform there was a queue which went right out of the station and onto Union St., and I don't know where it ended. There were servicemen of every description all over the station. Some were drunk and singing, others were with girls, and every seat and corner in the darkened station accommodated sleeping servicemen and their kit. Polish sailors appeared to be all over the place; a bunch of Royal Marines slept on a mound of kitbags piled around a small station truck; a group of red-pom-pommed Free French sailors stood around a gate jabbering in French to the great unconcern of the Glaswegian porter. The company of sailors that we had followed into the station sat on their kitbags without the usual nattering and bantering and looking very sullen and fed up to the teeth. A naval shore patrol paraded around the station; pairs of military and civilian police kept watchful eyes on all that was going on.

To me the whole scene was exciting and I walked around the station gaping in awe, listening to snippets of converstaion, identifying uniforms and badges, absorbing everything I could see. I stood for a while watching an Irish navvy and a soldier rummaging in the soldier's kitbag. I don't know what they were looking for, but they finished up fighting.

We stayed in the station much longer than we had expected. However we did manage to get some cheese rolls and with these we headed back to Robertson Street. The whole episode of the visit to the railway station in the middle of the night kept me stirred up for the remainder of the wait. I kept wondering where all these servicemen were going, where had they been, what would they be doing tomorrow when I was in Campbeltown; and the column of sailors whose scruffy appearance rendered them so mysterious... what story could they tell? I had been in many railway stations, but never at 3 am nor in one that didn't have trains coming and going, and certainly never in one with so many servicemen of so many nationalities. It was an experience I enjoyed very much.

Since most of the people in the bus queue were going on holiday their spirits were high and the wait was typically jovial for a Glasgow Fair Saturday crowd. The rest of the nocturnal wait passed uneventfully and ended more or less with the arrival of four big red "McBraynes for the Highlands" buses. The buses were jammed with people in no time at all. We did manage to get on a bus, but my sister and I, as we had expected, had to stand. This of course was no great problem and just added to the adventure. My mother had the first seat inside the bus and we were able to sit in the bus stair-well, right at the big window and had a bird's eye view of whatever there was to see.

It was quite some time before the buses left, and despite the buses all being full, room had to be made for all members of the armed forces going on leave. When the portly figure of David McBrayne himself came to our bus with some sailors and soldiers, all the passengers had to squeeze further into the bus. However my sister and I were able to retain our door-step vantage points.

The buses lumbered along Argyle Street and Dumbarton Road with a great deal of difficulty, because I suppose, of the extra weight we were carrying. Going through Yoker we saw the first signs of the bomb damage from the 1941 Clydeside Blitz - gaps in rows of tenements and many recently-formed gable ends. Clydebank, after the dreadful hammering it suffered from the Luftwaffe, still had enormous heaps of debris and rubble, smashed and burnt-out houses all over the place. The streets of course had all been cleared and the rubble was tidily heaped. However it was surprising that so much evidence of the blitz still remained. There was further evidence too among the oil-storage tanks on the hillside at Bowling and Old Kilpatrick - a number of blackened mangled shells of tanks still dotted the hillside.

The day was beautifully sunny and warm. Loch Lomond shimmered on our right as we sped along the quiet twisting lochside road through Arden towards Luss. Beyond Luss, probably about 3 miles from Tarbet, our bus stopped and pulled onto a grass verge. The driver told us that the bus had broken down. We all disembarked and headed for the shore of the loch.

It seems to me we were there rather a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself around the shore of the loch and for a long time most of the other passengers did too. Time passed however, and mumblings of discontent could be heard from the older passengers and servicemen. A naval petty officer picked up his gas mask and left in the direction of Tarbet; there was little or no traffic on these wartime roads, so I didn't think he'd get very far. The other buses had long since left.

A repair truck arrived, but after a short while we were informed that another bus was on its way from Glasgow and would be arriving shortly. I don't know exactly what was meant by "shortly", but I do know it was almost 2 o'clock when we boarded another bus and set out on our merry way up Lochlomondside.

Normally buses going to Campbeltown had a scheduled rest stop at Arrocher on Loch Long, but our bus stopped only long enough to pick up our petty officer passenger who by this time was absolutely plastered. This small village was the headquarters of the Royal Navy's torpedo-firing range for submarines. There was a submarine in the loch at the time and as the bus passed round the head of the loch we had a perfect view of it diving into the deep dark water.

We left Loch Long and headed through Glencroe towards the "Rest and be Thankful" (at this time the road wound its tortuous way to the summit over some grades which had a slope of around 1 in 5!). Our big red McBraynes bus with its claymore-wielding, targe-bearing kiltie emblazoned on its side, drove for the hill with a determination the kiltie would have been proud of. Halfway up the hill the engine started to stutter, and so did the apologetic driver as he asked us to kindly leave the bus and walk the rest of the way up the hill!

Out we got for the second time on the trip and started walking up towards the top of the hill. The bus passed us, labouring to get round the steep bends, amid cheers and jeers from the not-too-happy Glasgow holidaymakers and servicemen. And, weaving his drunken way from side to side up the steep mountain road, our leave-bound petty officer cursed and blinded David McBrayne and his big beautifully coloured bus with every spare breath.

I did not mind the walk at all; in fact I quite enjoyed it and looked upon it as a continuing excitement of the wartime holiday. At the top of the hill we boarded the bus again and were off in the glorious sunshine over the switch-back part of the road to Loch Fyne.

Driving around the sigma-shaped head of Loch Fyne towards Invereray provided much to interest the passengers. The loch itself appeared to be absolutely jammed with landing craft and boats of all shapes and sizes. There must have been exercises going on as the landing craft were coming right up to the shore and disgorging screaming steel-helmeted soldiers armed with all kinds of weapons amid cracks and bangs from lots of explosions in simulated battle. The village itself was just seething with servicemen and military vehicles of all kinds. In particular I was fascinated by the uniforms of a large number of the men: they wore the khaki battledress of soldiers and hats of sailors. I could not understand what they were and never did find out. In retrospect, I suppose they could have been members of the crews of the landing craft.

All around the village there were Nissen huts; not just a few, but hundreds of them. I don't know how many members of the forces were around Invereray at this time, however I would guess the numbers to be in the thousands. It was a massive Combined Operations camp.

We should have stopped here, the half-way point from Glasgow, for a 30-minute break, but only the drunken sailor wanted to stop, so the driver pushed on heading for Campbeltown. We were held up again near the village of Clachan by a convoy of army lorries. The convoy eventually stopped and the bus was able to pass it and get on his way. We arrived in Campbeltown at 10pm after a journey which took 14 hours to cover a distance of only 137 miles! The joy of a wartime Glasgow Fair holiday.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:02 am
by Dugald
Sinking of Athenia, Sept 3rd, 1939...part of aftermath.

Further to the mention of survivors on the Athenia thread, I thought the following extract from Page 189, of "Great Glasgow Stories", by John Burrows, Published in 1998 by "Mainstream Publishing Company (Edinburgh) Ltd., might be of interest to those reading the "Wartime Glasgow" thread:

"Within a week of leaving Glasgow the first survivors of the stricken Athenia were back in the city [Glasgow] again, a destroyer having landed them at Greenock. Many were taken to what was then the Beresford Hotel in Sauchiehall St., now the Baird Hall students' residence. As many were American, the U,S. ambassador in London immediately despatched his young son to Glasgow to comfort survivors and offer his condolences to Lord Provest Patrick Dolan.The handsome young American enrolled to perform one of his first public duties, endeared himself to those he met. Among those whom he spoke to was the young Possilpark survivor Thomas Ritchie who remembered how genuinely interested he seemed in the ordeal he and others had faced. The engaging young American was in later life to become one of the foremost world figures. He was John F. Kennedy.".

PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 5:40 pm
by Dugald
51st Highland Division's Glaswegians.

Not long ago, on another thread, there was an exchange of posts dealing with the 51st Highland Division (HD). Although the word "Highland" suggests its ranks were filled with soldiers from the Scottish highlands, this of course was not the case, many Glaswegians served in the kilted regiments which formed the 51st. The rousing reception given in Glasgow's cinemas to the 1943 British newsreel of the 51st Division marching behind its massed pipes and drums in the Victory Parade in Tripoli, attested to the high esteem in which Glaswegians held this division. Over and above the stirring music, and natural jubilation of a British victory, I believe the cheering was especially for the many young Glaswegians known to be marching behind those pipes and drums.

The vast majority of these 51st Highlanders in the Tripoli parade had not been part of the original 51st HD which marched off to France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at the beginning of WWII. The earlier division, under the command of Major General Fortune, had been forced to surrender to German forces, under the command of General Rommel, at St. Valéry, on June 12th 1940. According to Winston Churchill's "The Second World War", Book II, the 51st were victims of French mismanagement during the hectic days of June 1940. It seems the 51st HD was ordered by the British Army to make for Rouen, thence to St. Valéry on the English Channel for evacuation to the UK. The HD, which according to Churchill, "was in good condition", had been serving with a French Corps when the Maginot Line was abandoned early in the German onslaught. Since the HD was under French command, French orders prevailed, and the 51st were late in reaching Rouen, and consequently, St. Valéry.

When the 51st and the French Corps reached St. Valéry about June 12th, they were unable to embark on ships for the UK because of heavy fog. In the meantime, Rommel's armour had reached the cliffs overlooking the town on the south side of St. Valéry: the town and all the British and French soldiers were encircled. On June 12th the town flew white flags and at 8:00 hours the French troops capitulated. General Fortune and the 51st Highland Division surrendered at 10:30 hours. According to Churchill, 8,000 British soldiers ["in good condition"] fell into Rommel's hands... this would have constituted most of the Highland Division.

My thoughts about the Glaswegian contingent of the HD lack facts and figures, and are based solely really, on my observations in Govan. I recall, as mentioned on an earlier HG thread, for example, the many street celebrations that took place in Govan on the occasion of the POW-repatriation about 1944(?). This repatriation included British POW captured at St. Valéry with the HD. The celebrations all took place at the same time: these ex-POWs were all expected home at the same time, suggesting they were all from the same units. Within one kilometre of where I lived in Govan, there were: three on Crossloan Rd., one on Greenfield St., one on Fairfield St., and one on Howatt St... not an unfair sample to form a conclusion.

Following the loss at St. Valéry, a new 51st Highland Division was formed along with, in part, the 9th Scottish division. The soldiers who marched in the Tripoli Victory Parade were part of this new 51st Division. These soldiers too, are the ones who marched all the way from El-Alemein into Germany, and therefore, as Churchill tells us, St. Valéry of June 12th, 1940, "was not unavenged".

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:23 pm
by Dugald
Nah, we Never had any Summer Field Trips.

At this time of the year one hears lots of enjoyable stories being told by high school students about their recent summer school "field trip" to some exotic land. It's always with an envious ear that I listen to tales of wild teen-age summer shenanigans in places all around the world, shenanigens ne'er to be forgotten as the students grow older. During the few years I spent at Govan High School, I never once had the pleasure of taking part in a field trip to any place... not even a penny-one on a yellow car to Hoggansfield Loch! My years at Govan High were all war years, austerity years.

Oh I had an occasional walk down Arklet Rd. to Greenfield School for a swim, and once a week I got to trot over to Elderpark School for Woodwork, but how does this compare with a cruise in the Mediterranean Ocean or a weekend to perform with the school orchestra in Copenhagen... not very favourably!

There were other activities too, which I suppose helped compensate us for our lack of field trips. We could for example, join the "Ship Adoption Society". Fancy name, but all we did was meet once a week and write letters to crew members of an oil tanker, the San Emiliano I think it was, then engaged in bringing oil for the British war machine. I wrote one letter but I never heard anything more about it. She may have been sunk, I don't know, but I do know her sister ship the San Demetrius (?) was torpedoed. Oh the "Society" did get honourable mention once when an ex-pupil on leave, resplendent in his officers' Royal Navy uniform, addressed a wildly-cheering school assembly.

How about all the fun of growing our own school vegetable garden? Yep, we were allocated a piece of land beside the Dysart St. building and, as part of our Biology period, and as a contribution to the British war effort's "Dig for Victory" campaign, we got to go outside and tend to our vegetable garden. I never did see any of the fruits of our labour. The growing season peaked of course when school was out for summer holidays, and when we came back the veggies were all gone! I'll bet all the distant-field-tripping students didn't get to be a part of something like that lot!

Then there were all the days we had off school. Over and above all the free time at the beginning of the war when all the schools closed, and that was a helluva lot, we got to stay home the day following a night when the sirens sounded. And the very frequent fun-filled air-raid drills we had, which invariably included boisterous community singing, kept us out of Algebra and English for quite a few hours. These perks didn't happen just as often as we would have liked them to, but they added a lot to the fun we had in lieu of a trip to Tipperary.

I notice among my treasured souvenirs a school picture. Now how I wonder did we, deep in the midst of a brutal war-winning austerity programme, manage the luxury of a wartime class picture? I really don't know, but we did. Hey, how many of these todays' well-tanned aeroplane field-trippers can look back at a picture showing troosers with utility turn-ups (that's a euphemism for no turn-ups!) and jackets with utility lapels, and be able to explain what they were all about. Yes, and then there were the Post Office war savings-stamps we bought on a Monday morning to help win the war (really?)... no way did we squander our pennies drinking whatever on a beach while on some distant school field trip, we had a war to win!

It was rumoured in the school that the very senior students did in fact manage to go away, chaperoned by teachers, during the summer. Oh it was said they were picking potatoes and felling trees somewhere up in the Highlands to help win the war. Could that be classed as a "school field trip"; hmmmm, not too sure about that. Well, the war was won and this was achieved without my ever having howked a potato or felled a tree.

I sometimes feel as though we got cheated out of school field trips and the like. Oh, maybe we did, but then again we did have an "evacuation", and this lasted a lot longer than a week or two. For most of the Glasgow schools the venue for the evacuees was some place out in the country or one of the Firth of Clyde's many very-well-appointed holiday resorts. Yes, likely not just as exciting as gallivanting around the sun-drenched beaches of the Mediterranean, but it did have its moments.

Re: Wartime Glasgow--Excluding bombing.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 8:32 pm
by Dugald
Another Wartime Holiday.

In 1943 I set off again on another wartime holiday. Once again the destination was Campbeltown, but this time there was no big red "McBrayne's for the Highlands" bus, this time I was going by bicycle. The distance by road to this small town at the foot of the Argyll peninsula is 137 tough miles, and at this time I could not have cycled such a distance. It was my intention to make use of David McBrayne's other transportation monopoly, his steamer. In 1943 there was a submarine boom across the Firth of Clyde from the Cloch lighthouse over to Dunoon, consequently pleasure steamers sailed only on either the north or south side of the boom. It was my intention to ride the 30 miles or so from Govan down to Wemyss Bay on the south side of the boom, get the steamer from there to Tarbert , Loch Fyne, then cycle the 37 hilly miles from there to Campbeltown.

I was undaunted by the thoughts of undertaking this somewhat demanding ride on my own, but I was concerned with the possibility of my getting a puncture. I had been shown how to fix one, but I wasn't sure I could handle putting the tyre back on again. Because of this I decided to leave very early and give myself lots of time just in case I punctured. I cycled out of Govan at 5am to catch the steamer which left about 11 am...6 hours for a 30 mile ride!

The roads were dead quiet and the weather very cool as I pottered through Renfrew and Inchinnen. I always had my eye peeled for interesting signs of the war, but aside from the massive concrete road blocks at the wee church by the River Cart, there was nothing of interest. The ruins of the hot houses at the Inchinnan hill, where I'd managed to cut a strip off a green silk German parachute that had carried the land mine which blew up the glass houses, were still visible. At West Ferry, opposite the Dumbarton Rock, I stopped and had a look at the bombed ruins of the isolated building that still cluttered the entrance to the camp site where, earlier in the war, I had spent an enjoyable camping holiday.

Cycling through Port Glasgow and Greenock there was much evidence of the heavy bombing this part of Clydeside had suffered in 1941. Approaching the docks at the custom house in Greenock the road was closed by civilian and military police and I had to follow a diversion through the centre of the city. I didn't find out why the road was closed but it was obvious that whatever it was involved a large number of military vehicles. Past the detour at the west end of Greenock I decided to go down onto the road right beside the Clyde to see what was there.

Looking out over the hazy water the first sight was the superstructure sticking out of the water, of the French destroyer that had torpedoed itself in 1940 and killed a number of French sailors, but I had seen this many times. This was still very early in the morning and yet out in the misty water one could see dozens of big ships with tenders scurrying among them. Perhaps they had been bringing soldiers into Greenock and that was why the road had been closed, but I couldn't be sure.

I passed the torpedo factory and headed into Gourock. I stopped at the big fancy hotel at the head of the Gourock pier for a rest. The hotel had been taken over by the Americans and there were white-helmeted guards standing at the entrance. One of the guards came over and spoke to me and we had a friendly chat for a few minutes. He was a sailor from New York city and let me know that he had been in Gourock far too long (although he told me this much more expressively!). He asked me to get him a newspaper in the station. At this early hour I thought it was too early, but I managed and he gave me a bar of Hersheys chocolate.

I pottered round the Gourock esplanade, admiring the galaxy of merchant and naval ships visible through the mist at the Tail o' the Bank, past the Cloch lighthouse. It was still only about 7 o'clock and since I was getting hungry I stopped at the caves at Lunderston Bay, lit a fire, and had a drum up. The short ride over the wee hill and through Inverkip brought me to the Wemyss Bay pier, whence the McBrayne's steamer, the MV Lochfyne, sailed for Tarbert , Loch Fyne. I was there about three hours before the boat was due to sail!

There was a thick mist over the water as the steamer cast off and set sail for Rothesay. In no time we were tied up at the pier in Rothesay and lots of Royal Navy sailors disembarked. No doubt many of these sailors were heading to HMS Cyclops, the big submarine depot ship sitting out in the bay with a shoal of submarines secured at each of her sides.

From Rothesay we sailed through the Kyles of Bute, beautiful even when shrouded in mist. We stopped at the next pier, Tighnabruich , only long enough to disembark a few servicemen going on leave. From this sleepy village the steamer ploughed its way round Ardlamont Point and steered over to the western shore of Loch Fyne heading up to Tarbert, where all passengers, mostly serviceman, got off.

It was about 1pm when I set off to cover the remaining 37 miles of my journey to the wee town at the foot of the Mull o' Kintyre. I had a tail wind and it was a veritable breeze all the way there. At about 4pm I was riding up the High St. absolutely delighted with myself at having ridden on a bicycle from Govan to Campbeltown.

Oops, there is one thing I have omitted to mention, to be truthful though, it's actually the raison d'être for this posting. While waiting at Weymss Bay I sat at the end of the pier looking out over the water, day-dreaming, with my legs dangling over the side. It was a quiet and sunny morning, with a high tide, and a veil of mist suspended above the water. Shortly I heard the sound of throbbing engines and out over the water, heading upstream, a pair of destroyers appeared thrashing through the choppy waves. This was not an uncommon sight, but what made this pair different was the speed at which they were galloping over the waves. I knew immediately that something was going on.

For a short while after the departure of the destroyers naught was to be heard save for the cawing of the gulls and the rush of the waves lapping against the pier, a tranquility after the rush of the two destroyers. While sitting here at the end of the pier looking over the water on this hazy sunny morning I heard a dull rhythmic, thrump, thrump, thrump, vibrating across the water. My eyes searched downstream from where the sound came but in vain, nothing was in sight. But the thrumping continued, and after a short time a great, gray, cathedral-like structure started to grow before my eyes, ploughing its way purposely through the misty waters.

As the distance diminished this mist-shrouded giant shape fashioned itself into a ship, a ship of leviathan proportions. Two gigantic funnels stood like towers behind a massive bridge atop a long, long, hull which sat high in the water and all, from bow to stern, a sinister gray colour. This was indeed a structure gigantic in every respect, a ship of unbelievable size. And, as she passed not far off-shore before me, the thrumping of her engines increased enormously to a volume of great intensity as they drove this colossus through the Clyde waters.

Despite the sunlit haze the setting of the scene was not without beauty. This was clearly a ship shaped to please the eye and streamlined to slice the heaviest of weather. Her great masts and funnels were raked steeply astern, and while she stood enormous, she sailed through the Clyde waters like a yacht. I was looking, in deep awe, at the greatest liner in the world, nearly 84000 tons of it, was the RMS Queen Elizabeth, built at Clydebank on the Clyde.

While I had been watching this magnificent ship a small crowd had gathered and there was a man with a telescope. It was he who confirmed the identity of the ship and provided a running commentary of what he could see. According to him the ship was packed to the gunwales with soldiers. This big ship could carry a complete army division consisting of some 16,000 troops plus its equipment! All of her decks were crowded with soldiers standing at the rails, hanging on the rigging. He could not tell us the nationality of the soldiers, but the likelihood was that they were American or Canadian...but who knows, maybe it was Scotland's own 51st Highland Division coming home from Italy for the invasion.

The sight of this great Clyde-built ship was not the only reason that made this bike ride so memorable; there was another reason...I wore long trousers for the first time in my life when I stepped out on the town that night.