- Contributed by
- BBC Scotland
- People in story:
- Sheila Stewart Bain and Sgt William Stewart McAsh
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 December 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Mairi Campbell of the BBC on behalf of Sheila Stewart Bain and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the sites terms and conditions.
Hoarding food was frowned upon prior to the war but I am an innocent hoarder. I still have my ration book; identity card; a crumbling yellowing newspaper; a flying log book; an RAF Christmas Menu; and of course memories — some cheerful some sad.
Silver/grey barrage balloons floated in a gentle August breeze above the Queen’s Park recreation ground in Battlefield Glasgow. To a nine year old they did not appear very menacing — but they were harbingers of war. On the 3rd September 1939 we sat round a wireless, my parents silent and solemn, as we heard the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, announce the outbreak of War with Germany.
The Primary Schools in Glasgow closed. Many children were evacuated; my mother more concerned about the disruption to our education than the prospect of bombing, elected to take my brother and I to Prestwick where the primary schools were open and my Grandmother had a holiday home, my father staying in Glasgow during the week. For those how remained in Glasgow, teachers conducted classes in the homes of the children in rotation, pupils brining a lump of coal for the fire, as fuel was in short supply.
At Easter the Primary Schools reopened and we returned to Glasgow, sirens proclaiming occasional air raids. Clydebank was badly damaged with many casualties.
The Engines of the German bombers had an unmistakable beat as they followed the Clyde towards their targets. There was an ominous whistling noise, then crummmmp as the bombs landed. One fell near my Grandmothers home near Shawlands and my father, crunching through broken glass to check on her, found her crouching underneath a table, her windows blown in by the blast.
In 1945 the blackouts ended and there was dancing in the streets. I can remember dancing round a bonfire on VE night in Grange Road beside Queens Park School.
Much has already been written about rationing — 2 oz’s of butter per person per week; 4 oz’s Margarine; 1 Egg; Meat; Fats; Bacon; and Cheese. I can still see in my minds eye. On the cashiers desk in the Mayfair Cinema a cardboard box containing 2oz bars of cadbury’s Mint chocolate wrapped in open ended sleeves. One bar — one weeks ration!
It was a compulsory for everyone to carry his or her identity card and this was accepted. They were free unlike the proposals for today.
Rudloe Manor Christmas 1941 was the heading for the RAF menu. Little didmy uncle aged 14 when I was born, know that it was to be his last Christmas celebration.
“Two ton bomb a minute on raid in Turin” was the headline in the Daily Express on Nov 22 1942, it added “Three of our Bombers are Missing” and Bill was on one of these, a Halifax Bomber. I can still remember my mother’s anguish when that fateful telegram arrived. Ice forming in the wongs caused the plan to lose height and it crashed into the Alps near Bardonecchia, west of Turin. On the last page of his flying log book is the chilling entry “Death Presumed 20.11.42”
Bill now lies with his comrades, at peace and forever young, in a beautifully kept war cemetery on the outskirts of Milan.
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