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Barr and Strouds and VE DAy

by BBC Scotland

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
Alva Inglis
Location of story: 
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Contributed on: 
15 December 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Mairi Campbell of the BBC on behalf of Alva Inglis of the Glasgow Old Peoples Welfare Association and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

I wish I had known my father. I was born in 1923 and he was admitted to hospital in 1925, the year my family had intended to emigrate to Australia to join his parents and sisters. He suffered from shell shock having flown planes which I have heard were sometimes literally held together with string and sealing wax. That was during the First World War. He was sent to Larbert Hospital then Lochgilphead Hospital where he remained until his death in 1940, by which time the country was in the throes of another terrible war. For years before there was adequate public transport my mother made regular long and difficult journeys to Lochgilphead to visit him. It would have been so much easier if he had stayed in Larbert Hospital where I might have had the opportunity to get to know him.

When I left school and started work in Barr and Stroud’s on range finders and binoculars and I remained there throughout the war. When dad died my boss wouldn’t give me the day off for the funeral, he said that we were too busy working for the war effort. I never really recovered from the lack of compassion, nor did I really understand why I couldn’t be released for just one day. I stayed in my family home, Dundonald House, which I dearly loved. Soldiers worked from the house throughout the war because they sent messages by pigeon and had decided to use our fastest racing pigeons for this. We all wanted to be kind to the soldiers by extending as much hospitality as we could. Sometimes a soldier would stay overnight or take a bath in our house. At other times they just ate with us. We grew a lot vegetables and kept hens so we were able to provide them with nourishing food. We hoped that my brother who was in the HLI was being met with the kindness that me father had received hospitality from the civilians when he was in the Flying Corp. In the grounds of Dundonald my uncles Jim and Jack, made a wonderful air raid shelter that could hold at least 12 people. It was an amazing place.

We had good times socially during the war. I was in my late teens and loved to dance. The most popular places for me and my friends were the Beresford Hotel, the Locarno or The Playhouse. There were a lot of Canadians in Glasgow and they had a club near Sauchiehall Street. My 21st Birthday was celebrated in the Plaza and there was a mixture of British and Canadian young folk, we had such a marvellous fun there that night. It is so sad to see the state of the Plaza now. I used to be such a marvellous place. We had happy times there even though there was a war going on. The worst experience however, was the Clydebank Blitz. We could see flames from our windows of the west works at Barr and Strouds. Hundreds were killed then. It was terrible — the worst experience. And then we had the best experience. When VE Day finally arrived I was 22 and I remember how excited I was. People were clapping each others backs, shaking hands and crying. I think there must have been thousands gathered in George Square. There was wonderful music and people were singing and dancing and talking to each other, clapping strangers on the back. It was a wonderful day, but it was also sad as well. We were happy that the war was over, but we were also thinking of the boys we knew who would never come back. Thanks for the memories.

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