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Maurice Taggart - An Infant in Greenock

by mcleanmuseum

Contributed by 
mcleanmuseum
People in story: 
Maurice Taggart
Location of story: 
Greenock
Article ID: 
A2504477
Contributed on: 
08 April 2004

My name is Maurice Taggart and I was born on the 4th of July (American Independence Day)1939, at Rankin Memorial Hospital in Greenock. I lived at 11 Roxburgh Street, Close 13 opposite the Co-Operative.

As I got older, I can remember numerous things...for example, we had no electricity during WW2. There were gas lights everywhere, and we had two swan shaped gas lights with turnbuckle switches on the mantel piece.

As a child the weight of the heavy gas masks and the funny smell of rubber. The aroma is even more pungent today...in addition there were green metal helmets, canvas bags with shoulder straps, ration books, hand water pumps and pails full of sand in case we were bombed and there was a fire.

During the Greenock Blitz, I can remember the wail of sirens and searchlights like great giant torches criss-crossing the sky. The droning noise of plane engines and the thunder like 'boom, boom' of the incendiary bombs being dropped all over Greenock. The sky was lit up as the town was set alight and I remember the clanging of fire engine bells as they raced through the streets in a desperate effort to put out the fires.

My mother would push me in my buggy over the firemen's hoses and I could see the reflection of the flames flickering from the burning buildings on the wet streets. People were shouting, screaming and running about everywhere.......we were making our way over to Lauriston Street to visit my grand parents in their top floor flat. We were told not to come in as we all had to make our way down the stair into the 'dunnie'or cellar which we used as an air raid shelter. I remember my mother lifting me out of the pram and carrying me down below. We all stood in a circle in the cellar in the semi-darkness staring in silence and waiting....

After the all clear, I remember my mother trying to listen to the radio to get news about the War. We went round to Barclay's Diary to collect a small transparent glass accumulator battery in a black frame with a handle. I watched my mother connect the terminals to the Eco Valve Radio so we could get contact with the outside world....

Round about 1943, I remember anotehr occasion vividly...the heat searing onto my face through a frame of glass in our front window as a big ball of flame went up into the sky. I have since learned that this was Bomb Delay which was part of the Official Secrets Act (OSA)and to this day I can't get any answers about this unsual occurance.....

There were good times as well. I remember the excitment as my mother took me to see the Wizard of Oz at the La Scala Cinema as we rarely went out anywhere socially during this period. Little things fascinated me as well. For example, the shuttles carrying receipts and change in the Co-Op and the opportunity to ride my three wheel bike.

Approximately 1994 i remember catching a caterpillar with a stick on a girls cardigan. Girl was screaming in the back green. Got into trouble for lighting matches next to old washhouse. Albion came out of co-op dairy, run over toy truck on Mearns Street, 1944. Grandfather putting up a swing on door frame, cutting knee on glass bottle next to Barclays dairy, mother put skin of egg shell over cut. Playing with train and candle in lobby of grandparents in 1942.
Funny glow fire with no flame, it was peat. Cat watching for mouse at grannies fire range, 1943. Granny throwing piece'n jam in paper bag from top window. Made a tent in back green using blanket on washing line. In 1944, watching granny wash with toggle, wash the house. Heard talk later about green house full of coal saving lives, it was hit by a land mine blitz.

Later, when I was about 4 yrs old I remember starting Mearns Street School after the Blitz..... I was only there a year as we moved house shortly afterwards...

Then there was joy and the wonderful celebrations at the end of the War in 1945. I remember my face pressed up against the railings looking through to Shaw Place at Clyde Square and watching the soldiers, sailors, wrens, everyone dancing in an anti-clockwise direction to Big Band music. There were church bells ringing, boat horns hooting, ice cream and jelly and numerous street parties. It looked like great fun.

At the end of the celebrations I remember the German Prisoners of War building and making repairs to the Peat Road. They were stripped to the waist and breaking up stones with big picks.

In 1945, we got the keys for the very first prefab in the area and I went to Lady Alice School with Richard Wilson from 'One Foot in the Grave'.....we sold wastepaper in exchange for a film projector - I remember it all very well....

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The Blitz Category
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Prisoners of War Category
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