Jean and I

Jean and I

Saturday, June 17, 2017


when milk was delivered to your doorstep in glass bottles?
when a film (sometimes two films) plus a short feature, a cartoon and a newsreel were all included in a night at the cinema?
when the commercial station Radio Luxembourg was famous for its broadcasts of popular music?
when very often two homes had to share a phone line?
when the usual way of getting a TV set was not to buy one, but to get it on rental? A weekly visit to the TV shop with the payments book was a must.
when there was just one TV channel?
when the TV was switched on before the start of the scheduled programmes, this test card was displayed on the screen?


street lamps lit by gas, horse-driven vans, Harry Lauder on the wireless, Mrs Simpson who was the cause of Edward VIII's abdication, the launch of the Queen Mary at Clydebank, the Lambeth Walk and young ladies sporting the earphone hairstyle 



The photo below was taken around 1940. It shows my grandfather John Armour Jaap in the dress of the Ancient Order of Shepherds. I know he was a member of that benevolent society, though I don’t think he held any office. Perhaps he got dressed up like that, just for a bit of fun.

Born in 1868 in Kilmarnock, he married Charlotte Graham in 1891 in Kirkintilloch, where he had found work in the local coal mine. Later he became an engine driver, driving the “pug” which carried the coal wagons to nearby foundries and to the canal depot.

I remember, when I was a boy, my father telling me in all seriousness that Grandpa had once seen a fairy down the mine. I had no reason to doubt the story then, but I’m surprised that, when I was older, I didn’t ask my grandfather about it.

Many years ago I came across a magazine article about the supernatural and was interested to find how many well-known people, particularly in the literary world, were believers in the Wee Folk.

Towards the end of the 19th century W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory began collecting fairy stories, and became convinced that the existence of fairies was a reality. 

Another believer was G. K. Chesterton. He wrote “It is a fact that it is not abnormal men like artists, but normal men like peasants, who have borne witness a thousand times to such things. It is the farmers who see the fairies. It is the farm labourer who calls a spade a spade who also calls a spirit a spirit. It is the woodcutter with no axe to grind who will say that he saw a man hang on the gallows and afterwards hang round it as a ghost.”


Among my memories of childhood one incident is still very clear in my mind.
In the 1930s there was an outbreak of scarlet fever, a very infectious disease which necessitated patients being isolated in hospital. I fell victim to it, and, after I recovered and home again, my sister, just a few weeks short of her 5th birthday, caught the germ. 

This looks very like the dreaded "fever van"

I can remember the day she was taken away. After the van had left I couldn't find my mother and I searched the house. And then I discovered her - the sitting room door was wide open and there she was, hiding behind the door, crying . . .


When our daughters were at Lenzie Academy, they made contributions to the school magazine. Here are examples beginning with a poem by Margaret - Class 1A


A pale, untidy moon
Peers fearfully from a lurid sky
Through tattered cloud curtains of blackening grey.

The wind blows furiously

Carrying litter, leaving trees
Leafless and tottering in its wake.

And grey sea walls tower,

Pause, leap and plunge
Endlessly and mercilessly on slimy roads.


A poem by Lesley - Class 1A


I sit, waiting
For thoughts to be transformed
Into words,
For pen to touch paper:
Waiting, waiting


And something completely different from Fiona - Class V


Read or sing this poem and answer the questions that follow in English.

NB. Answer EITHER questions 1, 4, 2, 6, OR 2, 5, 3a, 9, BUT if you choose question 7 do not attempt questions 8, 2, 6. Do not attempt question 5b if you are of a nervous disposition.

Baa, baa, black sheep
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full.
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
- Anon


Finally, some photos of me, between the ages of 2 to 12


However it will be replaced by a new blog
which begins next Saturday 24th June


Saturday, June 3, 2017


This photograph is one of the oldest we have of our branch of the Jaap family. Taken about 1888, it shows my great-grandparents George and Jean with their six sons. My grandfather is standing behind my great-grandfather.

My great-grandmother was Jean Armour from Ayrshire, so it's quite possible that she was related to the Jean Armour who was Robert Burns's wife.

One family member not in the picture is Jean's own daughter from a previous relationship.

Some time during the 1890s five of the brothers went to the USA and found work in Andrew Carnegie’s steel works in Pittsburg. Two of them decided to stay and later brought their families to settle in the States. My grandfather remained in Scotland.


It was in the 19th century that a great many Scots emigrated to America. Poverty and unemployment were perhaps the main causes of this great movement of the population, but for some there was the attraction of going to a country where, so it was believed, a higher standard of living was attainable.

It’s difficult to imagine the feelings of the brave souls who left their homes and friends behind, heading for the unknown. Certainly, for those whose adventure began in the earlier part of that century, there were many problems.

Liverpool was the main starting-off point and very often travellers had to wait for days, living in dirty, over-crowded lodging houses, being constantly harassed by pickpockets and thieves who would steal their luggage and make them pay for its return.

The journey by sailing ship took about 35 days. Most folk were accommodated in steerage, which was like a dormitory with bunks on both sides and tables down the middle. There was serious overcrowding, poor ventilation and, apart from seasickness, there were cases of cholera and typhus. What a nightmare it must have been!

Things had improved considerably by 1860 when steam ships had replaced sailing vessels. By that time healthy competition had grown between shipping companies who were keen to do what they could to attract customers, and 3rd class cabins had largely taken the place of steerage. And most important of all, the journey was now taking 7-10 days.

Of all those who emigrated, a surprising number were Mormon converts on their way to Utah. There had been a lot of Mormon activity particularly in England from 1835 on, and it was claimed that by 1850 they had made 30,000 converts. On two occasions they hired the SS Sailor Prince to convey their new members from Liverpool to New Orleans.

On the second voyage beginning on September 24th 1848, there were 341 passengers, and those included relatives of our Montgomery Japp, born 1764 in Fife. Montgomery (unusual name for a woman) had married Thomas Muir, born around 1758 and the emigrants were her son, who had become a Mormon in 1846 and his wife, their seven children, their son-in-law, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren. The journey took 57 days, and from New Orleans they continued on to Utah.

The following is from Gloria Emery, a descendant of Montgomery:

"Montgomery’s  great-grandson, David Muirie Hunter and his wife Sarah Jane Urie were part of what is called the “Hole in the Wall” wagon train – they were chosen by the Mormon leadership to go to southern Utah canyon country with a group of other Mormons to found a new town in the southern wilderness. They went by ox and wagon, travelling through country that is remote and takes a 4-wheel drive vehicle today. They had to cross the Colorado River. In order the get the wagons down off the cliffs, they blasted a “hole” and lowered the wagons with ropes. It was quite a feat. They settled in the little town of Bluff, Utah, then returned to Cedar City, Utah later."

 We know of other families who went to Utah. Isabella Japp, born 1834 in Fife, married George Edgar, born 1830 and they emigrated with their thirteen children. And Elizabeth Jaap, born 1823, with her husband Robert Laird and their family, also settled in Utah. 
The following comes from Mormon archives:

“In 1856, Brigham Young, the Mormon president, devised a plan whereby emigrants from Britain could come to Utah if they were willing to pull handcarts and walk the 1,300 miles from Iowa to Salt Lake City. Ellison Jaap, her husband Paul Gourlay and two small children undertook this journey. 

Unfortunately this group was late in beginning their trip in the fall of 1856, and met with disaster when winter storms trapped the emigrants along the Sweetwater River in Wyoming. Two hundred members of the company died of starvation and cold, before Brigham Young could send a rescue party of wagons from Salt Lake City. Ellison Jaap's two young children died. 

There are conflicting stories on the fate of Ellison. One report says she died in Wyoming, and the other states that she made it to Utah. A journal kept by one of the members of the Martin Company mentions the death of Ellison’s seven month old child Margaret with the following entry:
15 August 1856, a child was buried this morning. The coffin had to be made, which delayed us until about eight o'clock.”

A very sad story! We know that Ellison Jaap came from Fife where our ancestors lived, and it’s very likely there's a family connection.


There used to be occasions when Americans visiting Kirkintilloch asked to be directed to the Duggan’s Dew distillery, and were disappointed to find that there was no such place.

In fact there was - and there still is - a popular whisky in America called “Duggan’s Dew”. The makers had taken the name from a series of short stories published in the (American) Saturday Evening Post. Written by Guy Gilpatric 1896-1950, they featured a fictitious Colin Glencannon, a ship’s engineer on a tramp steamer who with his dog Mary had come originally from Kirkintilloch. He was very fond of a drink, his preference being the whisky made in his home town, and there was always a mention of “Duggan’s Dew” in the stories. I believe a 39-episode series based on his adventures was produced for TV in the late 1950s. 

The author himself had an adventurous life. An airman in the first World War, he became a stunt and test pilot, and took part in a number of films. In one film he had to crash a plane, but another “take” was needed, and he had to do it once more - with another plane, I presume. Incredible!


On 8th June it will be 2 years since Lesley's death







will be posted on


Saturday, May 20, 2017


Is this our very own Coat of Arms?

When we began the task of researching our family history, we had a lot of help from other folk, including quite a few who lived abroad, who had already gathered information about the Jaaps.

Among those people there was a correspondent from Germany who told us about the Coat of Arms. He had read about it in a local newspaper in 1931. He believed that red signifies love, blue means loyalty and gold is faith. He suggested that the twelve segments could represent the twelve apostles, the mitre meaning holy power and the breastplate worldly power.

He mentioned that he intended to visit "the heraldic place" in Berlin to find out more, but that was the last we heard from him. Of course there are many examples of these things which are not authentic; they are actually family crests and ours is probably one of those.



In the early 1930s it was a rare occurrence to see an aeroplane flying over. If one did appear, we children would stop our games, gaze up to the sky and chant “An airy-plane, an airy-plane!”

A few years later we had the opportunity to see planes in the air and on the ground, when Sir Alan Cobham’s Air Display came to a field just outside our town. What excitement! There were stunt pilots performing all sorts of clever manoeuvres, including looping the loop, the falling leaf, sweeping down to pick up a cloth from the ground, and some brave airmen doing a wing-walk. I envied the lucky children who went up in a plane that day.

But my turn came later. We were on holiday at Prestwick where small aircraft were making short flights from the sands. I expect I pestered my father into taking me up. I’m not sure if he enjoyed the experience - my mother watching from the promenade certainly didn’t. Needless to say, I was thrilled!

Our pilot was a young girl, Winnie Drinkwater.  Not so long ago, I was surprised to learn that she had later become famous in aviation circles. She died in 1996 and The Herald (Glasgow), announcing her death, reported that in 1930 she had become the youngest aircraft pilot in the world and that she was the first woman to fly the Glasgow to London service. The plane shown here is similar to the one we flew in; room for two passengers sitting together and the pilot in a separate cockpit behind.

In those days travelling by train was always exciting for children. Many folk who worked in Glasgow used the railway rather than buses, and there was a frequent service from our town.

When we went on holiday it was by train. A few days before we set off, a railway lorry would call to collect our luggage, usually a big hamper, and, when we arrived at our destination, our hamper would be there waiting for us at our digs.

There was a downside to rail travel however. Smoke and soot from the engine could penetrate the carriages and you could arrive at your destination with a dirty face!


In those far-off days there was very little motor traffic in our town. Most vans and lorries were horse-driven and there were very few cars.

Car engines had to be started by means of a handle inserted into the radiator grill. On each side of the vehicle, stretching between the front and the back wheels, was the “running board” which you stepped on when boarding and alighting. There were no indicators and the driver had to use certain hand signals through an open window to show his intentions. And of course there was the horn which produced that honking sound!

I presume car brakes weren’t all that reliable, for I often saw cars parked on an incline, with a brick placed in front of the nearside front wheel.

This is a picture of a 1915 Vauxhall. You’ll notice the spare wheel at the driver’s side.

Taxis were rarely seen. I imagine they were used only for weddings and funerals and I’m pretty sure that on such occasions most people would walk.

There were fire engines of course. I don’t remember seeing police cars, though there was the "Black Maria", a big black vehicle that took you off to jail if you misbehaved. And there was another vehicle from which we children hid - the dreaded “fever van," - a common sight in the 1930s when the infectious disease scarlet fever was rife.

As time went on the number of vehicles using the streets continued to rise, it became clear that certain “rules of the road” would be needed.

So it was that in 1931 the government issued a booklet which detailed instructions and regulations for road traffic. The illustrations it contained are rather amusing and here are a few from that very first edition of THE HIGHWAY CODE.


A Skeleton in our Cupboard?

I can't remember the source of the the following story, but it was checked and found to be true. In 1775 a Mrs Japp (sic) was a well-known proprietor of a certain type of establishment in Edinburgh. It was in that year that the “Ranger’s Impartial List of the Ladies of Pleasure” was published, compiled by James Tytler, the editor of the second edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The book which included a pull-out map gave names and addresses, and Mrs Japp’s place seems to have been highly recommended. (If you've £43.49 to spare, the book can be obtained from Amazon)

Apparently Edinburgh had around 100 such houses at that time and by the 19th century that figure had doubled.

As far as we know, none of our ancestors lived in the Edinburgh area, but if there is a link to our Jaaps, we can always say that she was a Jaap by marriage!!!



My Parents

This photo of my father was probably taken in 1914  
when he joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

This is likely to have been taken around that time. 
My mother is on the left with a friend

Probably 1923 the year before they married


Finally, I just had to include this.




Saturday, May 6, 2017


What does this remind you of?


I've already shown this photo elsewhere in the scrapblog. It's where we lived in Regent Square. The terrace, along with many other properties in that part of Lenzie, was based on designs by the architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson (1817-1875). A photograph of part of the terrace was used by the Scottish Field in an article about Thomson by the broadcaster and writer Maurice Lindsay. 

When we first took occupancy there, we didn't have a good start with one of our neighbours. It was Jean who met the husband, a retired Army major and Conservative Party agent who complained that my piano-playing was upsetting his wife. (No funny remarks, please.) In fact they turned out to be quite nice folk and our family continued with the music - piano, organ, guitars, recorders, viola, clarinet and bassoon!!!

Our neighbour on the other side was Thelma Barlow the actress who played Mavis Riley in the TV soap “Coronation Street.” She was very pleasant and on one occasion when Jean locked herself out Mavis came to the rescue by supplying a ladder and a friend to climb in an upstairs window. 

When we moved in 1983, the new occupants to our house were the Breslin family. At that time the mother was a local librarian but much later she became known as the award-winning author of teenage and children's fiction Theresa Breslin.


Jean and I were married in 1954. Our first house was a 3-apartment in Loch Road, Kirkintilloch. Ten minutes walk in the direction of Lenzie led to Woodilee Hospital, better known locally as “the asylum”.

We found that quite a few of our friends from outwith the district had reservations about living so near such an institution. Of course I had always been used to seeing patients out walking and knew that the more serious cases were kept locked up.

One of the patients I knew quite well. Peter King was a very good dulcimer player and appeared regularly as a solo artiste at local entertainments. The dulcimer is a stringed instrument belonging to the zither family. The strings are struck with two handheld hammers.

Peter kept a little notebook in which he recorded every tune he could play plus every one of his engagements since the 1920s. His big moment of fame came when he performed on a early STV show hosted by Bill Tennant. It was said that Peter could have been discharged from the hospital any time, but his family wouldn’t agree to “sign him out”. 

Some of the patients just appeared to be eccentric. There was one man who seemed to be very wealthy for he possessed an astonishing range of expensive suits; sometimes he appeared in full highland dress, sometimes in cowboy attire. I remember that he used to visit the small shop near us and buy a large number of loaves to feed the birds, (though I may be getting him confused with another patient.)

Built in 1875 the Woodilee grew to be a very big place (in 1930 it had 1250 beds) with its own successful farm. When the hospital staff held their annual dance in the ballroom, there was always a tremendous rush by the general public to obtain tickets. I often played at functions there, and for a couple of years provided the music for the staff’s pantomime in the Town Hall.

As time went on there were big changes in mental health with more and more patients able to live in the community. So the Woodilee gradually treated fewer people until it finally closed in 2001. 


The “Total TV Guide” magazine publishes letters from viewers, and the following, which appeared in the 14th-20th March issue in 2009, was the Prize Letter of the week -

“Being a dog, I don’t watch much TV. However, I loved Five’s Mr and Mrs Wolf. I’m a basenji, a breed dating back to 3,000 BC, and I really respect my wolf ancestors. I also admire Shaun and Helen for their courage in getting up close and personal with those wonderful beasts. I’m not able to bark, but I was able to howl along with them. I hope we get an update soon.”

The sender was Kindu Kodi Sonovason (plain Cody to the rest of the pack) of Macduff in Aberdeenshire, and the Editor had added “Cody’s owner Lesley Farrell has asked for the £50 prize to go to Bark (sic) a charity that re-homes dogs.”

Yes, that was Lesley our youngest daughter who was a great lover of horses and dogs, and especially basenjis.

Cody always claimed a comfy chair

I suspect that Lesley wrote the following -


If I like it, it’s mine.
If it’s in my mouth it’s mine.
If I played with it EVER, it’s mine.
If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
If it’s mine, it can never be yours.
Even if it looks like yours, it’s mine.
If you’ve had it, put it down, it’s mine.
If I chew it, all the bits are mine.
If it was yours, get over it
Because once it’s broken, IT’S YOURS!

After Lesley's death, Cody was re-homed by the charity mentioned above. BARRK is the Banff and Aberdeenshire Rescue and Rehoming Kennels organisation


I expect everyone recognised the silhouette of Mickey Mouse's head.

He was created by the Walt Disney studio in 1928 as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The original choice of name for the character was Mortimer Mouse, but Walt's wife persuaded him to change it to Mickey Mouse. One piece of information astonished me - 45,000 drawings were involved in producing a six and a half minute cartoon!!!

A good many years ago, United Artists proudly announced to America that nationwide there would be a special school holiday to celebrate Mickey Mouse's birthday. 

But there was a catch - in that particular year October 1st was a Saturday. The rotters!


Lesley, Margaret and Fiona - ice cream in the garden


Fiona, Lesley and Margaret - Jean's graduation 1968


Fiona and Margaret with Lesley at her wedding to her first husband Derek Firth 18/9/1982


At Lesley's house in Macduff



A new blog
is now online


Saturday, April 22, 2017


When I was a young boy, Easter wasn’t really important in Scottish life. Holy Week wasn’t observed and as for Good Friday - that was the day we got hot cross buns! Easter Monday was the Spring holiday in Glasgow, but in many other towns it was either the Monday before or the Monday after.

On Sunday morning of course we attended church. That was certainly an important occasion because, apart from the bright hymns we sang, Easter Sunday was the day when all the women and girls turned out in new hats, dresses, etc. And I’m sure there was quite a bit of rivalry between certain ladies!

It was just recently I learned that by the end of the 16th century it had become the fashion to wear new clothes at Easter. Much later, Poor Robin, an 18th century almanac maker is recorded as saying -

At Easter let your clothes be new
Or else be sure you will it rue.


When I saw this squirrel stationary on the telephone wire, I dashed inside to get my camera. Surprisingly, it was still there when I returned and I was delighted with the result.

That was in 2009. Since then, we usually have a little squirrel around during the summer months and very often he will perform the tight-rope act.

The one who visited us in 2015 was quite tame. When I was in the garden, it didn't dart away but would stay put, munching happily while keeping a firm eye on me. 

On one occasion I decided I would see how near I could get to the little creature. Moving very, very slowly, I gradually advanced towards him. When he was almost at my feet, I began to lower one hand and I was astonished when he stopped chewing and sat motionless looking up at me. I reached down and gently touched him and ever so slowly stroked his head.

It was a wonderful experience. Perhaps if I had been a real nature lover, I might have tried to develop the relationship, but the thought never entered my mind. I now think of what I missed.


The Tragedy of the S.S.Daphne

On 3rd July 1883 there occurred in Glasgow what many believed was the worst accident ever on the River Clyde.

The launching of a ship was always a great event attracting many sight-seers, and this occasion was no exception. Some of the tradesmen were still working on the vessel when the launch took place and others had come on board just to experience the thrill of it.

Going down the launching pad, the ship seemed to keel over and on striking the water capsized and sank immediately. The death toll was 124 men and boys, and some families lost both father and son.

Among those drowned was a relative of ours, John Murrie. He was in his mid-twenties and on 9th June the previous year he had married into our Graham family when he took as his wife Isabella Graham (1852-1936).

Although the subsequent inquiry failed to find any criminal negligence, recommendations were made which led to important safety regulations in shipbuilding.


Primary One in Lairdsland School 1929

I’m in the middle row, 4th from Left. (Notice the butterfly?) On my left is Johnny Lang - we came in contact with each other very often through our music, he played trumpet and was associated with the Players Club. In the front row 4th from the left is Archie Little who played violin in our music group at Lenzie Academy.

And here are a few memories of my time at primary school.

I REMEMBER that in the wintertime we went to school wrapped up in layers of clothing. Boys always wore caps and short trousers; in those days we had to wait till we were 15 or 16 before we got long trousers.

I REMEMBER that, if there was torrential rain in the morning, the school would close at lunchtime and we got a half-holiday. In such weather the boys would cram into the playground shelter at the morning interval, stand up on the long wooden bench and stamp their feet in time to their repeated cry of “We want a hauf!” (a half-day).

I REMEMBER that sometimes a pupil would have an epileptic fit in the classroom. The child was usually writhing on the floor, while the rest of us sat in awed silence. I don’t recall the teacher attending to the victim - the fit passed quite quickly and the lesson was resumed.

I REMEMBER that a good number of my class-mates came from much poorer homes than ours. Those boys were all dressed alike, in trousers and jackets of a coarse brown material which had been provided by the School Board.

I REMEMBER that “the basket class” met in the church hall across the road. This was for children who were considered to be uneducable and included a whole range of cases from just a bit simple to mentally defective. They passed their time doing handwork and, although part of our school, there was no contact between them and us.

I REMEMBER there was an important event which hadn't happened before. The headmaster visited our class. Now, I’ve no idea what he spoke to us about for, like the rest of the class, I was sitting shaking in fear of this great man.
When he finished, he turned to the pupils in the back row and asked the first one, “How long is the River Clyde?" There was silence! We were horrified when he produced his strap and belted the boy. He directed the same question to the next pupil, and again, when no answer was forthcoming, he used his strap. And so he continued along the row, gradually getting nearer to where I sat, trying to appear invisible. No one knew the answer and the punishments continued till it was my turn. But - miracle of miracles! He didn’t ask me. Instead he told us the answer, and chided us for not having paid attention to his little talk.  (I still don't know how long the Clyde is).

The River Clyde near Abington


P.S. The Clyde is 109 miles long.
P.P.S. Thinking back to the episode with the headmaster, I realise as an adult that my escape was no miracle. He would be aware that my aunt was a teacher on his staff.



Saturday, April 8, 2017


This is a photo of my sister and me.

A few years ago one of her grand-daughters was given a school project on the subject of World War 2 and how it had affected ordinary people. My sister set down her memories and produced a very interesting article on the subject which of course was written with her grand-daughter in mind. This is it -


I was eleven years old when the Second World War started. Great Britain declared war on Germany on 3rd September 1939. It was a dreadful time but I was too young to fully appreciate that. In due course we were all issued with gas-masks, which we had to carry with us at all times. They were very hot and uncomfortable to wear, even for the short time when we had gas-mask practice in school. Thankfully, we never had any gas attacks. Then, we were issued with ration books, with coupons inside which had to be handed over in the shops when we bought food. This was so that everyone would get their fair share. Finally, we were given Identity Cards, each with our personal number on it. Mine was SJQA614.

Here's a photo of a family wearing their gas masks -

Soon men were having to go into the Army, Air Force or Navy, unless their job at home was important to the war effort, or their health was not good. The men from Kirkintilloch where I lived were away in other parts of the country training for war, while our town was full of soldiers from elsewhere billetted in schools, church halls, etc. Our house over-looked St. Ninian’s School playing-fields, where they had their physical training - it was called "square-bashing" - and designed to make them very fit. All this made our quiet little country town a very different place.

There was fear of German planes coming over and dropping bombs. The town of Clydebank was thought to be in danger because of the ship-yards there, so it was decided to move all the children away to safer places and Kirkintilloch was among the areas chosen. Thousands of children arrived in our town. They were brought to the Town Hall, carrying their bags of clothing, and with labels pinned on their coats showing their names and home addresses. The people of the town had to report to the Town Hall to be allocated a child or children. My mother was given a family of three - Peggy was about twelve , Jack ten, and William five years old. We had no spare beds, so my mother put a mattress in a corner of the living-room, on the floor, and all three slept there. After a week, their parents came to visit, and decided to take them back home. What I remember particularly is they had not lived in a house with a bath before. Gradually, many others went back to Clydebank, as there had been no bombing at that point, though some families stayed in Kirkintilloch permanently.

We lived in the house on the left from 1935 till the 1950s

Ours was one of six houses in a small cul-de-sac. They had all been built by Mr. Fletcher, a local builder. He lived in the largest one, built on a steep hillside, which gave him a big cellar. When war came, he decided to make this cellar into an air-raid shelter, for all the residents in the avenue, and one other lady. He fitted it out with comfortable seats, a couple of bunks, lighting, heating, tea-making facilities and even a toilet.

The air-raid siren was on the roof of the Police Station, in the centre of the town. It made a loud wailing sound, which could be heard for miles, first a warning sound, then the "all-clear" if the danger was past. So, throughout the war, we went to the shelter when the siren sounded, always at night, and having to get out of bed and get dressed.

Our house looked away over to Bishopbriggs, where there were anti-aircraft guns, which would fire at enemy planes. During air-raids it was unsafe to be out because shrapnel from the guns would rain down - great lumps of jagged metal - these would be lying about the streets the next morning. I wish I had kept some, just for interest. I never knew of anyone getting hurt by the shrapnel, but my father’s friend had a pony and trap, and a piece came through the roof of the shed and killed the pony.

In 1941 Clydebank was bombed two nights running, 439 planes came over and dropped 1000 bombs. The town was a ruin, lots of people killed. Our local Fire Brigade went to help put out the fires, some of which still burned after a fortnight. Grandpa Green’s father was a bus-driver at the time driving in that area. One bomb went down the funnel of a ship lying in the Clyde, but didn’t explode. Of course, we were lucky to be safe in our shelter, but no sleep for the noise of gun-fire.

During the war there was the "black-out" - no lights allowed to shine out of windows or doors, everywhere heavy curtains drawn at night, and no street lights. Can you imagine it? Cars had very faint lights that would not be seen from the air.

So that enemy parachutists who landed wouldn't know where they were, the names of streets and roads and signposts were removed.

This was something we didn't know about at that time. Part of the Fletcher home, where we had our shelter, was actually a secret radio station from 1940, and two Polish officers lived there. I remember them, but never seemed to wonder what they were doing there. (John comments - "Perhaps this sounds a very unlikely tale, but I can assure you that it's true.)

During the war years I used to knit scarves and socks for the Red Cross who passed them on to the Forces. Some knitters put their name and address on the finished item but I never did.

This is a photo of me and John probably in 1943. He is in the uniform of the ATC (Air Training Corps) a voluntary organisation for boys not old enough for the armed services.

The war lasted for six years so I was quite grown-up when it was all over. John was in the Royal Air Force for two years. Young men on reaching a certain age had to do National Service.

This was Grandma’s war. Nothing bad happened to our family. Sadly my mother’s Canadian cousin, who was a Spitfire pilot, was killed in action.

And life would never be the same for lots of people . . .


This final picture gives us some idea of what was happening all over the country on Evacuation Day. The photo was taken at Lime Street Station in Liverpool.