- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Marian Durrans
- Location of story:
- ullichewan Castle on Loch Lomond.
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 30 March 2004
I was called up for service in the WRNS the week before Christmas 1943. I was told to report to Tullichewan Castle on Loch Lomond. My father took me to Leeds City Station to catch a train to Glasgow. It was a morning of thick fog and bitterly cold, as the train was about to leave my father gave me a small bottle of brandy and a travel rug. The train was delayed by the bad weather and there was no hope of getting to Balloch that day so I booked in to the YWCA for the night. The next morning I duly reported to Tullichewan Castle, not a particularly inspiring sight. The grounds of the castle were full of Nissan huts with deep ditches between them.
We were kitted out with ill-fitting uniforms and a brief medical and hair inspection. Having done a lot of cycling I had taken a black souwester and cycling cape. Unfortunately the non-commissioned officers also wore these and I found that when I entered a room all the new recruits stood up.
There was only one sailor on the camp, his job was to see to the stoves in the huts, among, and I suppose other duties. There are eight double bunks in each hut, I always made for a top one for which I was very glad one night when the girl sleeping underneath me had put her coat over the bedclothes for warmth and had left a bar of chocolate in the pocket. In the morning there was neither chocolate nor pocket.
The sailor woke us up at 5.30am shouting “Wakey, wakey rise and shine” .We had to get up and fetch buckets and scrubbing brushes and clean the ablutions before breakfast. There were no table niceties at breakfast, you had to grab whatever was going or you missed out.
We were so tired at night and there was nothing to do so we were in bed by 8.30pm.One night there was deep snow on the ground and it was perishingly cold and the stove had gone out. Some of the girls were crying so I got up, donned my coat and set off to look for the sailor, I didn't find him, being Saturday night he would possibly be down at the pub in Balloch. I wandered through several lighted stores and in one of them there were huge joints of meat on the floor and cats chewing the ends. I met a member of the kitchen staff and told her what I had seen she laconically replied, “.Better than rats.” Needless to say I was vegetarian for the rest of my time there.
As Christmas approached we had been divided into groups with animal names, I was in Lynx. One morning the petty officer said, “Could anyone make a Lynx head for the top of the cake?” Anything, I thought that would get me out of scrubbing ablutions, so I spent several days playing with paper mache and paint to produce something passable. After various interviews to decide which category one wished to serve, one was assigned to the one they had already decided.
We left Balloch in the evening and arrived at Glasgow Queen Street. The petty
Officer lined us up in two’s holding hands and ran us through the streets of Glasgow with service men trying to break us up and failing. So we arrived at Central Station. The porter’s said, “Patience is here again”. Patience barked out, after lining us up once more, “I want to guard the b.. luggage”, about 4 stepped forward, I said two you b… fools” she shouted.
We were put on the train with no idea where we were going, the blinds were pulled down and the doors locked. After travelling through the night we alighted at a station, nameless, as they all were in wartime. We transferred to navy transport and drove through the countryside. In the early light we drove through some large ornate gates, with deer fleeing the transport, past a large lake and drawing up in front of an imposing building. We tumbled out to see our living accommodation for the next two years, Woburn Abbey. Our working lives were to be spent at Bletchley Park some 5 miles or so away, assisting in the breaking of Japanese codes.
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