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> Evacuation, world war 2
big tommy
post 7th Nov 2005, 06:21pm
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The Day before war was declared That is 2nd Srptember 1939 . We were told gather the following day in the grounds of St Josephs School . On this day war was officialy declared .and my father had already been called into the Army .

I was all of 9 years old. From here we were told to go home and return with everything we required for a journey to the countryside to protect us from War and German bombing

All MY possessions could fit into an old pillow case .My mother was allowed to accompany us as my then youngest sister was not even school age .She was just 3 years old .

My 2 younger cousins were also allowed to go with us as my uncle worked in a deffered occupation .(he was a marine engineer) .

There we were then :- My self the oldest at 9 .my younger cousin also named Tommy aged 8 , my sister, Betty aged 6 ,another cousin , Michael also aged 6 and my younges sister Mary aged just three . MY mother was to look after all of us .

We were marched from the School grounds ,up the Cowcaddens to Buchanan Street Railway Station ,all holding our little box with our gas masks ,a ticket tied around our necks and our little bundles held tightly in the other hand .

Here we were boarded onto a train .heading to nobody knew where .As the train moved off there was a mighty cheer from the young passengers ,myself included , who , I think .thought they were setting out on some great adventure ,

Half an hour later however . a strange silence descened on the train as the city sights and building bvegan disappearing out of sight and the whole scene suddenly turned to Green .

Every where you looked there was nothing but green , which to us kids was quite scary .Thankfully I was close to my mother and I could cuddle into her for comfort .

After about an hour we hit a place called Stirling .I had heard of it before of course due to Geography lessons ,but it was a very strange feeling to realise we were out of sight of all tenements and smoky chimneys .

As I looked out of the windows ,all I could see were these little white things which looked quite alien to me .I was more concerned about these than anything else.I kept wondening if they were going to gang up and attack the train . It was a long time later I actually discovered that they were sheep .

We travelled for about 5 hours with a few stops in between until we reached our destination .I thought we were in a foriegn country .Even the people talked differently from me .WE were in Ballinluig in Perthshire .Even the name sounded foreign .

From the train we were marched downa road to a place called Logerait .which again sounded very foriegn :- and on the way to a village hall the locals called out to us 'Go home to Glasgow ,you Keelies , .

In the meantime ,someone had discovered that Tommy and Michael were really our cousins , so therefore were a seperate family and tried to part them from my mother .


We were placed in a large hall and the locals could come round and pick and choose whichever child or children they wanted . So my mother ,with a boy and 2 very young girls found it almost impossible to find a billet

At this all hell broke loose . Michael screamed the place down , shouting 'I want to stay with my Auntie LIZZIE ' (my mother ) Nothing would console him ,so in the end it was decided that I , being the oldest (after all , i was 9) should go with Tommy to billet with Mrs Campbell

. It was her who decided that I ,being the elder ,should be called 'Big Tommy ' and the other Tommy was 'Wee Tommy ,.
Names which have stuck to us to this very day .Despite the fact that I stopped growing at 5'2'' while Tommy grew to about 5'9'' .

In family circles we are still Big Tommy and Wee Tommy . .

That then was our Evacuation Day. After about 3 months some other officious body decided that a family shoud not be divided and michael was dispatched back to live with Tommy .

WE .on the other hand .could not adjust to country life and decided to get back to familial surroundings of our concrete jungle ,where we felt more at home and perfectly safe .

When my father returned from the war ,another sister (Jean) was born to complete our family .She would never forgive me if I left her out of this story .

Big Tommy

This post has been edited by big tommy: 2nd Dec 2005, 06:33pm


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annie laurie
post 8th Nov 2005, 02:23am
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Hi Big Tommy,
I throughly enjoy reading your postings truley I do, and i must compliment you on having such a great memory, for details also,

You really should write all this down,{Book} for your family because it truly is History,

I always loved it when my Parents used to tell us stories about things that happened in the and during the War,

People surely were brave made of strong stock, and everybody seemed to help one another, just one big family ,so to speak,
makes me proud to be a Scot, >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Cheers
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big tommy
post 8th Nov 2005, 01:13pm
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DEar Annie laurie

Thanks for the compliment ,But as for a book .WELL i just dont have the talent for that .Something triggers me off and up springs another memory .I just cant put them into a correct order .but thanks again
Tommy


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dugald_old
post 19th Nov 2005, 01:00pm
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When war seemed imminent, on the Friday of the fateful weekend in Sept 1939, as I recall, we were simply told to report to the school on the Sunday morning at a stipulated time with a rucksack containing pyjamas, toothbrush, and several other things. The preparations for the departure, together with the excitement associated with the imminence of war being declared, made the weekend memorable.

My older sister and I were the only members of my family still attending school, and since my father was a widower, we were not accompanied by our parents. On the Saturday afternoon, September 2nd, our older brother took us to some shop on Langlands Road in Govan and bought us both rucksacks, and a big bag of fruit from Egans' fruit shop on Langlands Road in Govan. (The entire Egans family were killed in Linthouse in the blitz on 13 March 1941). With our rucksacks on our backs, and I feeling somewhat military, we left my brother and headed towards a commotion we had heard coming from the army drill hall, the headquarters of the local territorial unit, on Elder St.. A great crowd of people thronged the entrance to the building and soldiers were hanging out of the windows on either side of the entrance. The soldiers were singing and there was much bantering going on among the soldiers and civilians, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

On the morning of September 3rd 1939, my sister and I hoisted our packed rucksacks on our backs and, along with our father, we left for Greenfield School. The feeling reminded me at the time of a Sunday School picnic, but I was well aware I was not going on a Sunday School picnic. When we arrived at Greenfield Public School on Nimmo Dr. there was a great crowd of children and mothers milling around the school playground and outside the railings on the pavement. I cannot say whether things were well-organized or not; they could well have been. Certainly once things started to happen we weren't too long standing around before we were issued with a grey-coloured identification label (which hung around our necks for the next couple of days) and a paper shopping-bag containing food. The food was a real source of joy and all the children eagerly rummaged through it to find what goodies were included. In particular I recall two bars of plain York chocolate and two packets of biscuits among a variety of other foodstuffs - a veritable gold mine of exotic edibles for the children of Govan! There were many teachers dashing hither and thither solving one problem after another; they were very busy. And one wonders today, who wrote out all these identification labels and who packed all these food bags.

The railing all around the school playground was just a sea of faces all pressed hard against the high iron palings. I could see my father standing alone on the pavement, but back from the railing, watching and giving us an occasional nod. There were some soldiers among the crowd at the school, and I recall one in particular since he was wearing a kilt and his wife and all the children were crying. To me it was very exciting, a great lark, and I knew exactly what was happening... we now knew the war had started, and we were being sent out into the country away from industrial targets that would soon be bombed, everyone knew this.

We were lined up in twos, I with my sister, clutching each other's hand. Only mothers who were being evacuated were included in the long line. This meant a line of orderly pairs flanked by parents and other well-wishers, stepping out on Nimmo Drive, Arklett Road and Langlands Road towards the railway station at Berryknowes Road. The walk to the station seemed very brief and in no time my sister and I were in a carriage saying cheerio and waving with all the excitement our young hearts were capable of. Our father waved us off and we watched him as long as we could while the train pulled out of the station and he became lost in a sea of faces on the station platform. Was there any sadness as the train left Govan? I don't recall, but I do recall being busy eating a bar of plain York chocolate. (I have often wondered, as an adult, what my father's feelings were as that train left the station).

Indifferent to the singing, laughing, joking, and eating going on in the carriages, the train hooted and puffed its smoky way on, to where, not a soul among us had any idea. After what seemed a disappointingly brief time the train started to slow down amid a conglomeration of high dockyard cranes and much ado about boats. We might have thought we were back in Govan but for the tang of the salt sea air and the cawing of the seagulls. And, with the familiar clicking and clacking of a crawling train etching an indelible sound in our minds, we slowly entered a railway station adjacent to a dock and just seething with big, blue-helmeted Bobbies, all looking so friendly and so comforting.

"Ardrossan... just up the watter frae Saltcoats" seemed just a trifle disappointing; but not entirely, there was much hooting of boats to keep our minds hoping for more to come. After screeching to a stop and having our door flung ceremoniously open by a big smiling Bobby, we all piled out onto the dock, and lo and behold, towering beside the dock was the "Marchioness of Graham". How very appropriate, a Govan-built steamer for Govan children! But, gone were her cheerful "doon-the-watter" colours. The once brightly coloured pleasure steamer now had the appearance of a man o' war: she was entirely in battleship grey and looked very sombre and very serious.

A distinct feeling of foreboding crept over me, and I clearly recall being somewhat worried for the first time since the adventure began the previous day. The foreboding was not mine alone. The rowdy, singing, laughing throng hushed, and the presence of so many policemen on the dock eliminated any ideas that we were simply out for a day's fun. We didn't linger on the dock; we were soon gently, but firmly guided with a pat on the head by the very friendly policemen, up the big gangway and onto the boat. Once on board it soon became apparent that our spirits were not permanently dampened and cries of " Are we downhearted?" got a rousing Govan "No!". The teachers herded their particular groups to their particular stations on the boat, and were by and large successful in keeping us all together - no mean task on a boat now jammed with hundreds of children of all ages. It didn't take long before anticipation and excitement took over again as we awaited the steamer's departure for piers unknown.

The sail could not have been long, I don't recall thinking that it was... perhaps about an hour. However, as we docked at the longest pier on the Firth of Clyde at Whiting Bay, Arran, and prepared to disembark, confusion was much more in evidence. Our teachers were raising their voices and becoming much less tolerant. One of the teachers, a Miss McAlister, fainted. Her prostrate body lay bundled in her expensive-looking coat on the now mucky wooden deck for all our saucer eyes to see. I don't suppose many of us had seen an unconscious person before, well not a teacher anyway. The poor teachers must have had a harrowing time this day. Later in the war when young attractive Miss McAlister was frequently met at the school gate by a RAF pilot, I never failed to see her lying there that day on the Marchioness of Graham at Whiting Bay.

In Whiting Bay my sister and I were put up for the night in a rather swanky hotel, but our stay in this somewhat classy establishment didn't last too long. Next morning I believe it was, a very kind-hearted Mrs Hr, from Elderpark St., whose daughter had been in my class at Greenfield School, appeared and took myself and my sister from this hotel to another house at the south end of the village. The other house, a beautiful red sandstone villa called "Ingleside" ( it is still there), was very big and very well-furnished - not at all the sort of place to which we Govan types were accustomed. Here, my sister and I, quite happily and very well looked after, spent the first few months of the Second World War.
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Heather
post 19th Nov 2005, 03:08pm
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What a terific story Dugald and what a memory. It was very interesting to read.

You and Big Tommy should get together and swap memoirs. wink.gif


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Heather.......I'm tartan. Alba gu Brath. Saor Alba
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dugald_old
post 19th Nov 2005, 04:50pm
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Thank you very much Heather, for your kind words, and the suggestion that Thomas and I get together... we already got together...that's what we're doing here!

Funny thing is, as the years passed , I began to think I was the only one who was ever evacuated. On Sept 3rd, 1989, exactly 50 years after I arrived at Whiting Bay ,I stopped at "Ingleside", while on a bike tour, and spoke with a woman at the house. When I told her of my time spent in her house, she just looked at me and said, "Oh"... end of converstaion.
thanks again Heather! Cheers, Duagld.
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Catherine
post 19th Nov 2005, 05:08pm
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laugh.gif Nothin worse when yer ready for a chinwag an naebudy takes ye up oan it is therr Dugald.

Wonderful reading here.


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dugald_old
post 19th Nov 2005, 07:09pm
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Thank you very much Catherine, for your kind words (and imagine meeting you here!). Yes, you're dead right, it's awful being ready for a chinwag and no one wants to take you up on it. I was disappointed; but of course she was a young woman and I'm sure wasn't the least bit intersted in what had happened some fifty years ago. Ach, I enjoyed seeing the house and all the places at which I had spent so many enjoyable hours playing.
Thanks again Catherine. Cheers, dugald.
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Tori G
post 20th Nov 2005, 05:33am
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Thankyou, dugald, what a brilliant recount of your time then. I thoroughly enjoyed your story,... I even was imagining me being you, going on your trip, so very well done.


Tori.


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dugald_old
post 20th Nov 2005, 12:31pm
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Thank you for your comment Tori. This recount of my evacuation time had a school essay written sixty years ago as its framework. A peculiar side to my experience at the evacution was that I never ever met any of the Govan people with whom I was staying, despite them living in the same area of Govan as I. I mean there were six other Govan folk living in"Ingleside" and I never met one of them again; very strange.
Cheers, Dugald.
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big tommy
post 2nd Dec 2005, 06:02pm
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For anyone interested .I did a television programme .(Well appeared in it )in 1989 called Scotland;s War ,which went down quite well .
It was done by Scottish Television .You may be able to get a copy from STV at Cowcaddens Street .This was to memorialise the beginning of the war and included a lot of evacuation footage .

The girl who did Scotlands War told me that she had over 300 hours of television footage which she deposited in the Imperial War Museum in London .
.
Then this year in May 2005 I did another programme .this time for BBC. TV Called VE Day 1945 which memorialised the end of the war . I daresay it can be had from BBC TV at Queen Margaret Drive ,Glasgow .
Tommy

This post has been edited by big tommy: 2nd Dec 2005, 06:24pm


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big tommy
post 2nd Dec 2005, 06:17pm
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Dear Dugald

Just to go on from your experiences regarding your evacuation .

Some 15 years ago ,my children demanded that I took them to Ballinluig , where I was evacuated and show them the house where we were billteted .

I duly took them up on this and we DID find the house
.By this time it was being occupied by a retired professional couple .
They were most kind when they discovered the purposeof me being on their property . In fact they were fascinated as I recounted the deeds of my younger cousin and myself .

I could show them our initials carved into a wall I.E. TMcS and TMcS ,since we both had the same name .I showed them where Tommy and I had built our own 18 hole putting green and believe it or not .the 18th hole was still visible simply by lifting a piece of grass . We spent the night in the local hostelry and the fact that Tommy Mc Sorley was back spread round the village like wildfire .
Two locals actually remembered me from 1939 ,50 years on .

Amazing how one story triggers another EH ? Dugald .

yours
Tommy


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dugald_old
post 3rd Dec 2005, 08:36pm
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Further to your Replies #11 and 12 Tommy, let me say I found them both very interesting. That's great stuff being included in movies about Scotland at war. I was never included in anything like that. The closest I came to it was when a newspaper man in Toronto, I think he was called 'Ben Wicks' or something, placed an add in his newspaper asking for people from the UK who had been evacuated to write and let him know of their experiences. I did that and I received, eventually, a letter from him in which he thanked me and told me how, and at what cost, I could obtain a copy of his recently published book. I never did buy the book but a friend of mine told me there was no mention of my experiences in his book. ( the book is in our local library, but I won't read it...I felt that somehow, I had been ''taken'!)

Nice wee story Tommy, about your visit to Ballinluig... and imagine you finding your old 18th putting green hole after fifty years! You had a much better reception than I had in Whiting Bay in 1989. I never got to know any of the local boys, I don't think they were ever too happy about all the wild Glasgow 'keelies' descending on their toffee-nosed wee village. The people who actually owned "Ingleside" when I lived there in 1939, were a man and his wife, and they lived in a nearby cottage. The man, a farmer, was a "Special constable", and had to patrol a given stretch of the coast periodically at night. He took me with him sometimes, and he'd let me carry his blue helmet and military gas mask container...whichi thought was a really big deal. He and his wife were great people. At weekends they would invite my sister and I, probably because we were evacuated without parents, into their house for a feed of home-baked scones and real butter (which she churned herself). The man took me one day to the potato picking and let me ride on the back of his big Clydesdale; the one and only time I have ever been on a horse. The day I visited Ingleside in 1989 these two very fine people would have been long dead.

Yes Tommy, it's amazing how one wee story triggers another... gives us something to talk about...a nice wee chat!

Cheers, Dugald.
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big tommy
post 5th Dec 2005, 04:40pm
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DEar Dugald

You have triggered another memory I had forgotten about .
Ben Wicks got in touch with me nearly 20 years ago to give him some of my memiors for a book he was writing ,namely 'No time to Wave Goodbye'. To promote this book ,I did an telwevision interview fot the BBC .|I never met the guy ,but i have a copy of the book.Thanks for kicking me off again .We must have a treasure of memories buried in our minds .

Tommy


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big tommy
post 5th Dec 2005, 04:46pm
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mad.gif Dugald

Yet again another memory .Like you i was given the chance to purchase the finished book .I took great umbrage at this ,being asked to buy a book to which I had contributed .

I was so angry. I reported it to the 'Daily Record ',who took up the story .The publishers were eventually shamed into sending me a free copy of the book ,published by 'Bloomsbury '
I have refused to read it and hust keep it as a reminder not to be 'taken 'again .
Yet another memory
Tommy


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