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Johnstone Wheelers

by BBC Scotland

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BBC Scotland
People in story: 
J & R Montgomery
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31 January 2006

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Vijiha Bashir, at BBC Scotland on behalf of J & R Montgomery from Johnstone and has been added to the site with the permission of Johnstone History Society. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

During the war years a lot of the members of the Johnstone Wheelers were away on active service but the Secretary of the club wrote monthly newsletters and kept them in touch with what was going on in the club at home. In return they wrote to Mr Buchanan (the Secretary) with news from the front and he put this correspondence into the next month’s newsletter.


A letter from J Andrews informed me that he is no in France. I don’t know whether Jock Davis is there or not but he tells me that Davis is now a daddy. It is not another champ however being only a girl. A letter from big J Houston informs me he has had his first taste of action in his ship being in the Normandy operations. He says that it was a great feeling to set his feet on French soil and have a walk along the beach. Bert Robbie is forward with a letter from Italy. L.McNeil is in India; J.Muir writes occasionally from Italy, A Mitchell No 2 (Jim’s brother) is in South East Asia. I don’t know B.Stirling, J. Robertson or MacCameron’s present whereabouts. All the others as far as I know are on home soil. Another young member Peter Whyte has been called up and he is now a Miner in Fife shire. Two letters despatched to Tammy Mitchell in March and May 1943 have just been returned to me, having been every place except Berlin.

Two soldiers walked into a barbers shop somewhere in England. (They were not together). Whilst waiting their turn they got talking and the talk drifted round to cycling. The one volunteered the information that he had been a member of a cycling club before being called up. On being asked what club he belonged to he said the Johnstone Wheelers. The other soldier looked at him and said “I’m a member of that club too”.

The two soldiers were Charlie McLaughlan and Jack Laughlin and they had never met. Charlie, an old member had been in the army for about 4 years and Jackie with about three years membership had only five months army service. Well that is all for this time boys. Cheerio the noo and see and look after yourselves.

A letter from John Malley reveals that he is now in fighting form in France, but that he is in the best of health and spirits. D. Robbie in a letter from Italy suggests that we give our monthly bulletin a name such as the Johnstone Circle. He explains that the members are drawn from a circle round Johnstone and the fact that a cycle wheel is also a circle. It would be even better if we could get bill heading with a figure of a cyclist, the club badge or something of the sort. I think this is a good idea and am looking into the matter. Jackie Laughlin was home on leave and I was sorry I did not get much time to speak to him as I was busy preparing for my tour and getting all my writing squared up before leaving. He was at the Club Rooms and was playing Geordie Tod and Hector Adams at Table Tennis. Jim Blair was also home on his first leave and I regret to say that I did not see him at all. He arrived home the day I left on tour and left again the day I arrived back home. Hard luck Jim…..

Tammy McNeil and John Elliot are the two latest members to be called up. Tammy a brother of Glen and Louie McNeill (both serving with the forces) has been called up. Tammy was all set for the cycle tour, so went on with it and has to report at Aberdeen on his return. John Elliot belongs to Tignabruaich but has been staying and working in Johnstone on War Work for some time now. He volunteered for the RAF. Some time ago and has just been called up.

FORCES — During the month we had Tammy McNeil, Johnie Dickson, A Ballantyne and J McCafferty home on leave. W. Borland was home on a three day leave and John Houston on a long weekend. Tammy Mitchell and Jim Blair have been home several weekends. Jim has been transferred form the Army Pay Office in Annan to the same department in Edinburgh. He is even luckier there as he is free to come home every weekend. At the Halloween party on the 27th both Tammy McNeil and Andy Ballantyne landed in and had a good time. On the Sunday night after our return from Kilmarnock we had a visit form Tammy McNeil and Mitchell and also big John Houston. By the way I think I should give you the low down on the big chap. You would never believe it! He was home on leave recently and had a smashing big ATT with him. I did not have the pleasure of meeting her, but I have since seen her picture and she looks o.k. He tells me she does a bit of cycling. Good work John, you are starting along the right lines. He said it cramped his style a bit as he could not get about as much as usual for showing her around. I had a letter from “Old Freen” Jock Davis who first of all says he has a bone to pick with me for saying he was a daddy, then he admits he has taken the first steps in that direction by giving his girl an engagement ring when home on leave recently. Good Luck Jock! I am pleased to report that Alex Mitchell is now out of hospital and that I have just received a Christmas card from him. I thought that perhaps if you happen to land near each other at any time you might be able to make contact. I have therefore got my young assistant to make up a list of forces addresses and have enclosed one for each of you.

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