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15 October 2014
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by BBC Radio Foyle

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

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BBC Radio Foyle
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Background to story: 
Civilian Force
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Contributed on: 
06 December 2005


As a young boy I went to The National School which is now the Church of Ireland Church Hall beside the Church of Ireland Church. I was taught by a Master Costello and enjoyed my early years of education. I then went to The Tech and learned about woodwork. Then it was home to the farm to be a farmer.
I was 26 years old when I registered for The Home Guard. I joined the F Company of the 1 Londonderry Batallion. Locally we were known as the Local Defence Volunteers and we were the No 1 Platoon of The Home Guard. Our uniform was a simple black uniform. Two months later we got new kaki uniforms.
At the commencement of The Home Guard we were taught ‘drilling’ — how to march and this was a constant exercise everyday.
American soldiers came to the Ogilby Hall, the Castle, the Guildhall, the cinema and Campbell’s house and gave talks on how to ‘drill’. It was all rather exciting.
I remember being down in Pellipar Estate hauling flax out of a field to a dam and at that instance the roads on the estate were all gravelled. When the military occupied Pellipar House all the roads were laid down in concrete and what a difference that made when driving a vehicle. The speed limit was 5mph.
Pellipar House was used as ammunition base. There was ammunition kept there. The concrete bases are still there today and if you noticed the clay packed sides of the walls on the outside — this was to protect and make any blasts go upwards.
We did lots of ‘drill’ in The Shammels in Bobby Semple’s yard behind the Courthouse. One day the late Alec Buchanan let a shot off and it rocketed over the roof of the Courthouse.
The Dungiven Company had its own ‘magazine’ for holding ammunition. When we became experts on our ‘drilling’ our Company was mainly used for defending Aghanlo and Ballykelly air fields. A small party of men were trained by John Mackay and Mr A. V. Bunn on the 75 millimetre guns and others were trained on how to use the gun. The gun site looked over the Aghanloo air field.
We used to have a ‘spicket mortar’ — the bomb weighing some 2Olbs and used to fire them out over Lougheramore Mountain. This mortar could travel a long distance.
Life was good in The Home Guard. We had great camaraderie with everyone and there was fun too. I remember one of the Fersons doing cartwheels in the Guildhall and cart wheeling past Bobby Semple’s head.
The Home Guard disbanded in 1944.
William McFarlane

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