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I Just Wanted to be a Singer

by BBC Scotland

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
J. Houston
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A9020684
Contributed on: 
31 January 2006

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Vijiha Bashir, at BBC Scotland on behalf of J. Houston 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.

I lived with my Grandmother here in Johnstone for many years and although I am now 86 years of age and feeling the ravages of time throughout all of my old bones, I still get around the town quiet well.

The Malitia came into being on 25th April 1939 — the year of my 24th birthday and for my birthday the Government of the day requested that I serve six months in her majesty’s forces. I put in for the Navy but was sent to the 7th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in the lovely wee town of Forres, Morayshire.

I did quite well there and was offered promotion to Lance Corporal in a very short space of time; however I refused promotion because I had hoped to enter the entertainment world as a singer after the war ended. That was not to be unfortunately, but as a point of interest, I did broadcast in Australia and someone who heard it — probably a woman, wrote into the Melbourne newspaper saying she thought I was better that Crosby or Sinatra. When I tell that to my friends I always add “and so did I”. Just to give them a laugh. The newspaper cutting has after all these years gone astray, it had been sent to me by one of the Gunners on my old ship. He had apparently read the paper then cut out the article and sent it on to me and I in turn sent it in a letter home to my Grandmother and I don’t know what happened to it after that.

I spent 3 + years in the Seaforth and 2 + years with the Maritime Royal Artillery and I liked both of them a lot but regard myself as a Seaforther. I must say though that I enjoyed my service in the forces and I guess I was very lucky, in as much as I saw very little action. — Only once at Syracuse in Sicily, but we wont go into that.

When thinking back on my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Lord put me on earth to be a singer. That I believe was his purpose for me but I failed, He will just have to book me a place in his Heavenly Choir and I’ll ‘gie it laldie’ when I attend my first audition, which I hope wont be for another wee while yet.

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