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- 18 October 2005
‘In the home guard, we used to go away up tae the top o’ the golf course, once a week, to do a guard duty, and ye got a shillin’. You went round the town as well, …a great thing the home guard here.
We had a lot of trouble with enemy air craft. I saw a lot of bombers. I believe we hit some, but you wouldn’t just bring down a plane with a couple of bullets, unless you hit a vital bit like the petrol tank.
Enemy air craft were coming near Edinburgh, from Germany, trying to bomb the Forth Road Bridge. This is what they were after, so we had to guard in case they tried to bomb the factories, as we had mills, making the tweed.
I was in a reserved occupation making the tweed, but I thought, I’m fed up of this, and went away and joined up in Edinburgh. I ended up learning to shoot an AA gun.
I was sent to Sussex, just outside London. For a while I was at Drem outside Edinburgh then shifted down to London. Course I enjoyed the guns, me, I liked the firing. I used to do a lot of training with the Territorials. I used to go to the range at night and learn how to fire. It was good learning. I was outside Inverness too, and twice on a course at the Isle of Man.
I worked with the AA guns. You had to learn to strip a gun in about three minutes, you learned that. It was a Twin Lewis gun.
You had to do shifts, it was a big job, but we managed it, and I quite enjoyed it. I was quite a good shot at it.
I’m 93 now, so I was in my twenties then.
When I joined up you got a choice with what you wanted to be. They took you up on a hill and trained you to fire at a plane with colours on it. If you hit the tail, the coloured bit, they told you when it came down. It was exciting, I enjoyed every minute of it.
I was in Stornoway at the end of the war, for the last year — it was great there. You had to speak the language of course — it was a great place, lovely people. I enjoyed Inverness too.
I missed VE day — I don’t know where I was. You see it on the telly now, but I missed all that, I was maybe on a gun course, so I don’t know anything about it because I was never in it.
You didn’t get much leave, as I was too far away. You may be got a couple of days every six months, but by the time you got up here you had to come back so it was no use.
After the war I went back to my trade, making tweed, and did that until I retired.
We had some near misses with the bombs, but we just had to clear out. It was sometimes tricky.
You did maybe three hours on the gun on the ships, then somebody else did it. We were on at night too. You were on your own with a Twin Lewis Gun.
We could watch the fighters in the air — the manoeuvres were great. They did a good thing, these lads, the pilots, though if you’d see their billot it was a coup. They never bothered cleaning up, though of course they were on call 24 hours a day. The Siren would go off and the men would go away running, shove in the bombs. We didn’t know if they would come back again or not’.
(Collected by SBC Museums)
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