SCOTS
CMSW

Document 25

Interview 01: Stranraer man talking about WWII

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): Prof John B Corbett, SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

M608 Okay, erm, have you always lived in Stranraer?
M194 Are ye recordin?
M608 We are now.
M194 Yes, I have that.
M608 mmhm
M194 oh for about sixty-eight years.
M608 Sixty-eight years?
M194 Yes.
M608 And you we- you went to school there?
M194 Yes.
M608 uh-huh.
M194 I did that.
M608 uh-huh and when, what age would you be when you left school?
M194 eh fourteen.
M608 Fourteen.
M194 In them days it was fourteen when I left school.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And I think it was about nineteen forty, forty-eight, it came in you had to stay till you were sixteen.
M608 uh-huh
M194 Aye it was and that,
M608 uh-huh
M194 so ye
M608 So what was your first job?
M194 [?]I was[/?] an electrician, //Apprentice ele-//
M608 //And that was in Stran-//
M194 Apprentice electrician
M608 In Stranraer?
M194 Yes, started in nineteen forty-seven.
M608 And who got you the job?
M194 eh
M608 Did you apply for it?
M194 mmhm applied for it And that my father knew the the contractor,
M608 uh-huh
M194 and I got a job with him then. This was just the end of the War, and they were just startin up, all, most small firms were just startin up on their own then, and you got the job with them //then.//
M608 //uh-huh// So it's quite a small company?
M194 Yes, there were only aboot six of us altogether, the [inaudible] and I was there until nineteen fifty-three!
M608 So what's that, five years?
M194 Five years till I'd done my apprenticeship. [cough] In them days, you only done your apprenticeship, then they paid ye off.
M608 mmhm
M194 Because they could pay a man fourth, er, a apprentice in third and fourth year, journeyman, could claim journeyman's wages for him, //and//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 get to only pay you the small wages.
M608 mmhm
M194 Once ye come yer time finished eh, ye got the yer jotters, and ye had to go look some other place.
M608 Right.
M194 So then I went from there up tae Glasgow.
M608 mmhm
M194 And then a year up in Glasgow with the Ministry of Works.
M608 mmhm
M194 Then I come back to Stranraer. And I had a wee spell off, and then I went out to, eh Cairnryan Road [inaudible] and dump, the boats that's dumpin the ammunition.
M608 How did that, how did that work? I mean whi-, who brought the ammunition in? Was it //the//
M194 //They came in by train//
M608 uh-huh
M194 Then you you loadit them ontae barges, and then they're tooken out as ye're seein it now in the paper, this [inaudible] [?]Dyke[/?],
M608 uh-huh
M194 and dumped there. //The car-//
M608 //uh-huh//
M194 the crates were just threw over the, the barges just opened their tail- tailgate and threw the stuff out.
M608 And how did you get involved in that?
M194 Well I was I was unemployed. I hadnae a job. I, because I came back from Glasgow, because the job in Glasgow finished, and I had to come back to Stranraer.
M608 mmhm
M194 I went there for aboot, oh aboot three weeks, and then I got a job with with, what in them days, eh it was "Silver City"
M608 mmhm
M194 that was flying from west, from eh Castle Kennedy, [inaudible] Castle Kennedy to eh Belfast.
M608 mmhm
M194 And I was eh I was workin there for about four month, and then I started as a as a ba- goin back to my trade at Cairnryan, with the Royal Engineers, an electrician [?]for them[/?] at Cairnryan //You know.//
M608 //mmhm okay.//
M194 So I did. //and then//
M608 //uh-huh//
M194 I was there for aboot a year and a half.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And then I left there and went to the Post Office.
M608 mmhm
M194 I was thirty-eight year there.
M608 Thirty-eight years in the //Post Office?//
M194 //Thirty years, aye.//
M608 And what? Was it just difficult finding work in, as an //electrician, aye?//
M194 //oh yes phew, yes// aye I'd have had to move away to say up tae, come up tae aboot Ayr, or some place.
M608 mmhm
M194 I mean, when I was in Glasgow and the job was finishin, I got offered work, //it was away//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 up in Aberdeen.
M608 Right, yeah.
M194 So I just didn't fancy goin away up to Aberdeen //and stayin//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 there and payin I mean, and the company I was gonnae work for, they werenae gonnae give me eh money tae pay yer digs, ye'd tae pay yer digs oot of yer, yer wages //and that was-//
M608 //[click]//
M194 uh that wasn't on.
M608 Aye.
M194 So I come back home again.
M608 uh-huh
M194 and then I start the Post Office [cough]
M608 mmhm
M194 aye I did.
M608 So were you, were you growing up as a child in in Stranraer during the War?
M194 Yes.
M608 uh-huh //er. Was there a lot of//
M194 //Yes, yes right through during the War.//
M608 activity in Stranraer, cause it //was a port?//
M194 //Oh ye-// oh yes, during [inaudible] I went from, aboot nineteen forty-one it started. and eh, then they built the military two, they built on one side of the the Loch Ryan, they built eh the Americans came in, and they built a jetty, and all that, for S- the Sunderlands and seaplanes.
M608 ah right.
M194 They were one side of the jetty whe when they had big hangars. They had a big, well one big hangar, where they took the planes in and repaired them.
M608 mmhm
M194 And then they had, oh f- about fourteen s- more, just like shelters, where they could put the plane, take the pla- nose the plane in and the, and they [?]tae a[/?] and they repaired them and put them back out.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And then they pulled them along the road, and they put them back intae the water.
M608 Alright.
M194 And the traffic, and a lot of traffic, ye could be pullin them one along the road, and the traffic's goin underneath the their wings.
M608 mhmm
M194 Double-decker buses and everything was going underneath the
M608 [click]
M194 people goin tae tae [inaudible] were gonnae, used to go under the wings the double-decker buses,
M608 God.
M194 and that. And then they would take them oot and put them in the water again.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And then they would go out, they would go out, and they went on thirty-six hour missions, flyin re- reconnaissance.
M608 Thirty-six hours
M194 Thirty-six hours a time [?]they'd tae go oot[/?] reconnaissin.
M608 mmhm
M194 And that. And eh they'd come back in and, as they were comin back in, there's maybe another seaplane or Sunderland takin off tae go away back oot. Then we would bring them in and eh when once they hit the water, they brought them up to their moorings.
M608 [cough]
M194 And there was one or two accidents that way. Some of them didnae [inaudible] some of them just missed it, and they took a nose-dive and just //sunk.//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 And there was other ones [inaudible] ferryin up, the the pilot lost his head!
M608 [inhale] ouch
M194 [?]Don't know where[/?] just too far in he just caught the propeller.
M608 uh-huh //Right.//
M194 //and just [inaudible]// So [inaudible] so, that was that the the the end of the War. The short- Harland and Wolff, come into Stranraer, and they were transm- convertin these seaplanes into passenger planes and flyin them out to New Zealand and eh Australia, //as passenger//
M608 //huh//
M194 planes
M608 Right.
M194 That lasted until about nineteen fifty-six, nineteen fifty-six. //So//
M608 //Right.//
M194 [inaudible] that side, that was on one side of the water. //On the other//
M608 //uh-huh//
M194 side of the water, they built two big jetties, so they did. And everything was brought in by by rail to Cairnryan, and it had to even cross main, from the de- once it left the main crossing, the railway crossin, they crossed two main roads and right alongside, and s- and into Cairnryan the [inaudible] into Cairnryan, they built a great big jetty there, two je- they made one, two, three, they made three jetties; one s- two small ones, one big one. And they could bring the boats in there and and take troops out durin the War and everything.
M608 mmhm
M194 And the, at the mai- at the mai- [cough] at the main jetty, the, they don't know the de- the depth of the water, because the the, it's built on floatin, because they couldnae, the [?]repair[/?] drivers, they couldnae get the bottom.
M608 uh-huh
M194 So it's in a, er it's in floa- a floatin dock.
M608 Good God. Right?
M194 [inaudible], and the the oh the troops used to come in there, and, in fact then, w- the American plane, the American boats used to come in durin the night, and eh off one boat would c- would come the [?]chassis[/?]
M608 mmhm
M194 They'd go oot, they'd pull it up tae the next one, the engine, and the bodywork would go ontae it; the engine and the [?]cab[/?], and all that, would go ontae it. And they took it up to the next one, and they loaded it up wae ammunition and goo- eh whatever supplies, and all that, and then took it away to where it was goin.
M608 mmhm
M194 [?]So that was one of the trades of War[/?] And eh, [cough] And then du-, of course, during the time too, there's other bringin troop boats in and loadin it.
M608 Aye.
M194 And eh twice durin the War once the Queen Mary came in, durin the night, wae troops
M608 Really?
M194 And put them off, and then, of course, they were goin onto the trains, and then they took them away on the trains to wh- down intae England and wherever they were goin, and the Queen Mary was in once too.
M608 uh-huh
M194 all durin the night, cause it was tae that deep water they could bring them in there
M608 uh-huh
M194 and get back oot again.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And that's where the American boats come in too, loaded wae troops, loaded wae troops and with the supplies.
M608 uh-huh //So.//
M194 //Then.//
M608 They they'd be coming across from America?
M194 Down from America.
M608 uh-huh
M194 mmhm //And their//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 troops, [inaudible] troops, eh most of the troops, maybe come through, are comin out through Belfast. //The troop boats,//
M608 //Right.//
M194 are comin in, because they come in fae d- eh, in through Dublin and up through Dublin tae Belfast, and then transferred across here.
M608 Where did you find out about this as a child? I mean, were these //stories coming//
M194 //[inaudible]// ye knew what was goin on.
M608 Aye.
M194 You knew what was goin on, I mean.
M608 People talked about it at school? //about it at school?//
M194 //Aye well, I mean I mean I mean// [inaudible] and then the w- the peoples, the surveilling workers that was workin there
M608 uh-huh
M194 And then, of course, the the troops was comin into Stranraer at night time
M608 Aye.
M194 and then there's t- eh two canteens, there's the WVS And the ri- and the Church of Scotland. They had //places there.//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 So troops were comin in there and then, of course, they were going tae the pictures and intae the cafes and all that. So ye, ye get tae know some of them and ye could talk to them.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And then of c- [coughs] through too also, too was my mother worked in the WVS and the Church of Scotland's canteen, eh //in her, voluntary work, at night//
M608 //Okay, aye.//
M194 ts- three, four hours a day. Plus, we got to know some of them and, they came to the house //some of the//
M608 //uh-huh//
M194 soldiers and airforcemen came to the house, //so ye//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 got it all through that John. And that, and then, plus too durin the War, they used to he- bring in eh troops intae eh wounded troops, in by plane,
M608 mmhm
M194 by hi- Sunderlands and seaplanes in, and used to bring them into the harbour at Stranraer,
M608 mmhm
M194 and then they're transferred from there ontae buses
M608 mmhm
M194 The wounded were travelled o- into ambulances and buses and they were either took to eh to eh [inaudible] which is aboot five mile [inaudible]
M608 mmhm
M194 They take t- there and some was transferred to eh Turnberry, to Turnberry big hotel.
M608 Turnberry Hotel was used for
M194 Turnberry Hotel was a t-t- a a h-h- hospital durin the War.
M608 Right.
M194 And then there's some to go up Turnhouse at Edinburgh.
M608 uh-huh
M194 The troops //wounded//
M608 //oh right.//
M194 then and then when and then when them that was fit was fit, they were put on the train and took away down to camps in England.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And then the troops that was coming in to get out again, they would come in, in lorries.
M608 mmhm
M194 And then the place where where the rugby pitch is now in Stranraer, used to be a transit camp.
M608 [click] Right.
M194 and that's where they give them a meal
M608 mmhm
M194 and then they put [inaudible] back intae the lorries, and then they went down, and they used to and ye could sometimes in Stranraer, from the harbour, they'd be a mile a mile queue, a mile of lorries up eh from the harbour up along sta-, [inaudible] Drive and right oot the London Road onto the Dumfries Road again, sittin waitin //for boats//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 comin in to take them out.
M608 Right.
M194 And if ye were out on a Sunday afternoon, walkin, ye go, quite often eh //the//
M608 //[cough]//
M194 the troops were sittin in there, the troops were in the lorries, sittin waitin tae be transported //to//
M608 //Right.//
M194 the boats And the troops would all s- shout at ye tae ah tae post letters for them. //They'd written//
M608 //Right.//
M194 letters and they wanted somebody tae post them
M608 mmhm, //so did you,//
M194 //So//
M608 did you post letters for them?
M194 Aye ye po- letters, aye sometime ye'd see me wae a great pile, maybe aboot thirty, maybe aboot thirty letters ye had in yer hand
M608 mmhm
M194 tae tae post, on a Sunday
M608 uh-huh
M194 mmhm And that, and then they went away and then that was they went from from the there's three ferries up from Dover, the Twickenham and all these ferries were up from Dover
M608 mmhm
M194 And they were f- sailin from Stranraer. There's two passenger boats and then there's one, two, three, four, eh cargo boats, which they come up the, they had the, you could run the the eh the right way on the eh Dover tae Calais run, //They still//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 they still had the tracks for the the trains tae go on.
M608 mmhm
M194 So they used to put the trains onto the boats.
M608 oh right.
M194 And they had them that way, and then they used to come, they were there tr- ferryin troops on on the lorries and that, across to Belfast //across to Belfast//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 and then some had to be taken down tae Dublin, and then they were taken off after that tae wherever they're wantin tae go tae Dublin.
M608 mm
M194 So ye'd ye'd, so ye had quite a few
M608 mm
M194 boats, and then [inaudible] Cairnryan and ye had the boats comin oot and in the whole time
M608 mmhm
M194 And then, as I'm sayin, after the War the- they'd that much old ammunition and stuff to dump.
M608 Aye.
M194 Well, then they'd take them out on these barges, and dump it in the water. Plus, eh they had maybe one or two old eh liners, that was ready for scrappin.
M608 uh-huh
M194 So what they done wi them, they brought them in
M608 mmhm
M194 Mean they took the engines out them
M608 Aye.
M194 Towed them intae Cairnryan, and then they filled them full of eh all these ammunitions, and //ra- eh//
M608 //[inaudible]//
M194 took whatever ye could cry, any scrap
M608 mmhm
M194 And then two tugs would come
M608 mmhm
M194 and take it out tae aboot, tae the deep channel.
M608 mmhm
M194 And then they'd sc- eh open the the calks
M608 mmhm
M194 and sink the boats.
M608 So they'd scuttle them?
M194 Aye, scuttle them.
M608 wow
M194 They too- took the tugs off tae get in, they scu- they'd open the ho- eh the holes
M608 Aye.
M194 And then th- they would come off, and the tugs would just let them go, and then they just scuttled theirself. I'm sure there were aboot six boats doon that way.
M608 Nobody was worried about dumping ammu- //ammunition at this time?//
M194 //No, no// that's why the the the present day, they're kickin up a row
M608 mmhm
M194 Because, I mean, this this stuff [inaudible], well I dare say the stuff in the boats'll no be breakin loose,
M608 mmhm
M194 But the stuff that was taken out in the the aircraft erm [click] the barges
M608 yup
M194 and then they just, they were in cases
M608 mmhm
M194 no the stuff was just in ca- wooden cases.
M608 So what kind of stuff are we ta-, are we talkin about, just bullets or what?
M194 Bullets, eh rockets, eh or hand-grenades
M608 God!
M194 There's sten guns, everything, John. They've takin out the [inaudible] and the likes of the hand-grenades and old eh bullets, and, and eh all that; they were in boxes. Well then, they just took them out and they dumped them, but now the boxes are breakin up.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And this stuff, the stuff oot the boxes is startin to drift tae inland.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And its comin, [inaudible], at the present moment, ye can see roughly from eh Ireland right acr- right round tae about, right across, right round the coast [?]Cork[/?], eh Portpatrick, [?]Corstal[/?], and up maybe up and then up to Ballantrae, up to Ballantrae up maybe as far as Girvan
M608 mmhm
M194 and then even into Stranraer ye'll get an odd flare comin in ye'll see //the thing on the shore.//
M608 //God.// mmhm
M194 and now there are, mean there are warnins the noo just tae, if ye see one, no tae touch it.
M608 Yeah.
M194 Cause if ye can t-, if ye, they're lyin there and if you just touch them, they start flarin.
M608 God. //So they're still, they're still dangerous//
M194 //So, they// //they're still dangerous, aye.//
M608 //after about fifty years?// mm
M194 I mean, they're tryin to make out that they're no dangerous, but they are
M608 mmhm
M194 [inaudible] //[inaudible]//
M608 //but no-// nobody was worried about this at the //time?//
M194 //No, they// nobody was worried, they just take them tae dump, I mean these barges were, maybe two barges a day was goin oot
M608 For how long?
M194 ooh I'd say aboot two year.
M608 Two, two year?
M194 Two years, easy.
M608 Two pa- two barges a //day for two years?//
M194 //day, yes, aye.// I mean, and, I mean, most in most cases too, I mean, it's not to be said, but I mean the barges were supposed to go oot so far
M608 mmhm
M194 And then open their tailgates
M608 mmhm
M194 But if you're in a hurry what's gon-, what are ye gonnae do?
M608 mmhm
M194 They're gonnae open them before ye should
M608 mmhm
M194 And that's how I think ye've got some of these stuff that's comin in now.
M608 Yeah. //So is the stuff//
M194 //[inaudible] it is.//
M608 the stuff that wasn't sunk in //the right place?//
M194 //[inaudible] proper places//
M608 mmhm //And you di-, you were,//
M194 //er//
M608 you were part of this yourself //for a while?//
M194 //Aye.// //From the//
M608 //How long did you//
M194 Well I was going to say aboot two weeks I was on it
M608 mmhm
M194 but then, when I went to work at Cairnryan eh with, that was with the with the MOD, I worked for about a fortnight then I went, when I went to work for the eh Royal Engineers
M608 mmhm
M194 well we had the electrical work tae, we had the, all the electric cranes and all that tae look after
M608 Right.
M194 so, I mean, they were doin it then, //it was.//
M608 //mmhm// mmhm
M194 And then, well I mean, some of these boats it was, when some of the boats too came in, they were old boats and there was Chinamen on them, there's China, //people//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 eh crews. //And they//
M608 //mm//
M194 of course, they were un- unloadin it from their boat, onto the deck, and then into another one of these boats to sit- take out.
M608 mmhm
M194 So ye'd all that tae look after
M608 mmhm
M194 Aye ye had
M608 So what were these, where were the Chinese people coming from?
M194 They were bring- they were comin in these boats that's bringin the stuff in. //There were some//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 boats comin from oh abro- abroad.
M608 uh-huh
M194 In with the the stuff to Cairnryan //to be dumped.//
M608 //uh-huh// So it was coming in from all over //the place?//
M194 //[inaudible]// oh aye. It was comin in by train and comin in by boats.
M608 God. So, it's comin an armaments dump //for the world, basically?//
M194 //[inaudible]// mmhm aye. I mean, ye'd the trains comin in every day. and then the sometime ye'd maybe hae two boats would come in and they'd dump it, put it on the, they'd usually try to arrange that there's another another old boat tae goin away tae be sunk
M608 mmhm
M194 and then they'd just transfer them from one boat, the cranes transferred them onto the onto the jetty, and they went along a bit into another cr- crane and then up and into this old boat tae be dumped.
M608 mmhm That's amazin. //[inaudible]//
M194 //oh d- aye!// Aye, it went on for years. //Aye.//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 did. I mean now, n-n- now the pier is eh the the main dock is now u- eh it canna be used,
M608 mmhm
M194 because th- it's been, it wasnae prop- mai- it's no maintained since the, the er government finished with it.
M608 mmhm
M194 [?]Barr[/?], the contractor had it for a while. He was haein boats comin in, and takin eh boulders, three inch, but eh, what do ye call the three-inch eh stones? b- eh pebbles and all that. Three inch chips and all that, takin them away, for building harbours [inaudible]. Ye'd boats from Shetlands, eh, Orkneys and everything, any place, they come in. They were hauling this from the big quarry up above Cairnryan, down in and then through [inaudible] goin over these big lorries //And the,//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 the, she was just a wooden ramp.
M608 [click] //Right.//
M194 //The w- the// base of the jetty is just wood
M608 Yeah.
M194 So there's big holes comin in it, so they //claimed it//
M608 //God.//
M194 unsafe.
M608 Right.
M194 And that, and that. I mean it's n- it's [?]well they think they're[/?] I noticed this morning, comin up that they must've they've opened the gates again, so they must be doing something with it.
M608 Aye.
M194 [inaudible]
M608 I mean, were there any accidents at the time, were there any explosions or anything?
M194 No, never any explosions //John, no.//
M608 //er// //mm//
M194 //Fortunately,// there were never any //explosion,//
M608 //mm//
M194 an all that, //out of the boats//
M608 //mm//
M194 when they were loadin the boats, or that
M608 mmhm
M194 I mean there's one or two scares, one or two maybe caught fire then.
M608 Aye.
M194 but they got them put oot.
M608 Aye.
M194 One of may- the barges maybe, on the barges or one of the boats was unloadin, they got, but they always had, I mean there's like a fire-tender, belonging to the WD,
M608 mmhm
M194 standin by the whole time.
M608 mmhm
M194 [inaudible] that was needed,
M608 mmhm
M194 so it was. And there used to be aboot, roughly aboot eh now, aboot eight men at a time on the hold, loadin the, liftin the boxes intae a ple- [inaudible]
M608 mmhm
M194 And then liftin them up and another basket would come doon and ye put it in again,
M608 All right?
M194 and that //And that and then they would//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 just go, as I was sayin, go along with an old like an old [?]railway carriage[/?] across to the next boat and lift it and put it in. Another eight men packin it, so they had. And that, and then they all waited, they waited till the tide suited and then they pulled it oot.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And just scuttled it, so they did. There was quite a lot of things went on durin the War in Stranraer, and all that, and then of course we had the h- the the, well then we had aeroplanes in [inaudible]
M608 mmhm
M194 and we had Castle Kennedy, and we had eh eh Blairgowan, where eh Blairgowan, Blairgowan was a kind of repair station. It was up in amongst the trees. //They//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 had the hangars, where they
M608 mmhm
M194 could take the planes and repair them, and then they brought them down, and then across the, across the main r- they had to take off again
M608 mmhm
M194 They'd start away in the field, and they'd go across the main [?]Drumoor[/?] Road, and then along, still along a field, and then up and away.
M608 mmhm //mmhm//
M194 //So ye had// that was in Blairgowan
M608 uh-huh
M194 and Castle Kennedy, well then ye had a big drome at Castle Kennedy.
M608 Yeah.
M194 And then we had another big one down at Wigtown.
M608 mmhm
M194 At Ludness. //So we did.//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 And then we, and then we had a two qu- we'd one, two, three eh camps for s- soldiers.
M608 Yeah.
M194 oh when, and then that wis //because we had soldiers//
M608 //Right?//
M194 here, ye know for guardin //and then we had//
M608 //mm//
M194 quite a few ack-ack guns and searchlights, and all that, so these ch- soldiers were brought round to different bits of the coast,
M608 mmhm
M194 for, say, twenty-four hour spells.
M608 mmhm
M194 And the huts for the men to stay in in
M608 mm
M194 durin the twenty-four hour spells
M608 mm
M194 in case anything
M608 What did Uncle Robert do during the War?
M194 He was a bus driver.
M608 oh right.
M194 And and eh it eh if the likes of one of these eh be- hospital boats was cau- planes and boats and that, they were eh they had to go down the pier with the buses and take them maybe t- don't know where they took the troops
M608 uh-huh
M194 and plus they had two of their buses converted, two thi- two of the thirty-seater buses converted and they had ten stretchers in each bus.
M608 Right, so
M194 It's for takin troops away, and then ye'd as many ambulances.
M608 That's right.
M194 So so that's why the the bus drivers, they werenae, they were eh exempt from being called up, because they were
M608 Right.
M194 they were eh thingmied eh, I mean. I've seen Uncle Robert comin in at eh half past six at night for his tea and eight o'clock he's away oot
M608 uh-huh
M194 a- they've got word there's a plane comin in
M608 Right.
M194 Planes comin in wae troops, wounded troops, or a boat comin in with wounded troops. And that, and eh then they've got tae go down, and sit down the pier
M608 mmhm
M194 and wait till they come in and see where they'd to be transferred tae
M608 mmhm
M194 As I'm saying sometimes, they'd could transfer, be transferrin them up tae Turnberry, or maybe away t- tae Turnberry or tae, tae tae Newhouse, any place like that, where the hospital, or up t- even up tae eh Loch [inaudible]
M608 mmhm [click] //mm//
M194 //So they could// That do that durin the night
M608 Aye.
M194 and then come back and do their normal duty during the day.
M608 That's right, cause ye told me a story last time ab- Uncle Robert, on the first double-decker bus. Wha- was, what was that one again?
M194 we- Uncle Robert, when the first double-decker was tae come intae Stranraer.
M608 Aye.
M194 Yes, well, I mean, they never had the double-decker buses, this is way back in nineteen, nineteen thirty-eight, thirty, thirty-seven, thirty-eight.
M608 uh-huh
M194 The first double-decker bus they got in, and, of course, at that time they were gettin ready for a, I think it would be the, it was maybe the coronation.
M608 Right.
M194 I'd need tae think, the corona-, so they put the streamers up and the the lights and all that. They'd put them up
M608 mmhm
M194 So, of course Uncle Robert, on the first mornin, he came down. They'd been putting them up say at the weekend, the Monday mornin, he came down and he, when he turned into King Street, from there on till he got right up King Street, right down George Street, till he got tae the Post Office, he could hear ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, but he didn't know what was goin on. And when he got to the Post Office, tae collect the mail tae take it tae [?]Sandhead[/?] and [?]Drumore[/?] and all that, the postman came out and said yer bus is fancily d- eh decorated this mornin. How? Here he was all was all these de- all these buntins and lights and everything all lying at the front of the double-decker [laugh]
M608 [laugh]
M194 Cause they hadnae, ye know, put them high enough.
M608 Aye.
M194 And they just took the whole lot away with him.
M608 mm
M194 So they had tae start and re- hi- ra- hi- put them up higher for the sake of the double-decker.
M608 [?]comes down[/?]
M194 It was the first double-decker they'd bo- bought into Stranraer.
M608 uh-huh
M194 And that's what happened tae him. He always said that, the first bus that came intae Stranraer and he p- eh took the buntin down for them,
M608 mmhm
M194 so they did, oh aye.
M608 Why did the American, why did the Americans come to the house?
M194 Well they would, they, no they never came to my house. //But they//
M608 //oh right.//
M194 came to st- well they were in, as I'm sayin, they came and they built the airforce base at Rigg Bay,
M608 mmhm
M194 which, as I'm sayin they built for the slip-ways and the huts and these big hangars for repairin the planes in
M608 mmhm
M194 wh- why they they they stayed they were while they were buildin it, they were stayin in the transit camp so they were s-s- stationed at stan- transit camps and they had to by erm take them by bus from the Stranraer to Rigg Bay.
M608 mmhm
M194 They took them away out, they took them out about six in the morning and they went half-past eight again, ye started bringin them back intae Stranraer for their breakfast.
M608 Right.
M194 So ye go- brought them in for their breakfast and the drivers got their breakfast along wi them.
M608 mmhm
M194 And then, of course, again they brought them in for their lunch
M608 mmhm
M194 at dinner time, and then they s- brought them in for their tea. Usually when they brought them in their tea, for their tea at night-time, that was them finished, because, I mean, they couldnae see in the dark,
M608 Aye.
M194 cause ye werenae allowed lights or nothing and that, in them days, so ye were So that's what the- they had tae trans- be transported oot and in, and then and then before fir- eh that was it, that was it eh and the ones that was finished they went away.
M608 mmhm
M194 Well ye'd the odd American comin in wi planes
M608 mmhm
M194 they came away wi planes, or, or sometimes ye'd the odd American comin in tae but of course we'd American, South Africans, everything
M608 mmhm
M194 airforce men comin in t-, maybe to learn how to [?]fly[/?].
M608 mmhm
M194 And then, of course, w-wh- westwing [?]as I was sayin[/?] at [inaudible], well that was a quite a big eh eh quite a few planes there too. And then has got quite a big house up about [inaudible]
M608 mmhm
M194 and the the the airforcemen slept there.
M608 [click] Right.
M194 But then they had tae be transported too, from [inaudible] [laugh] to [inaudible] for their meals.
M608 Aye.
M194 And eh Uncle Robert done all that.
M608 So there was a lot of running //around.//
M194 //ah// runnin around aye, and I mean in them days it was seven days a week ye were drivin, and no just //and that.//
M608 //[inaudible]// Stranraer feel about the Americans? //[?]Did they find[/?]//
M194 //[?]eh they[/?]// just took them, they took them in, just //Aye.//
M608 //Took them as they found them.//
M194 aye as they found them aye. //They got//
M608 //Aye.//
M194 on okay with them.
M608 No difficulty communicatin with //them, mm?//
M194 //No.// No. cause they werenae that, they we- they werenae that long there John, maybe say aboot, six month, they, we had a, we had a large sum of troops wi- while they're buildin the jetty and that at Cairnryan.
M608 Aye.
M194 And then, of course, just after that it was just odd yins, we'd of course we'd every nationality: Jamaicans, South-Africans, Americans comin //Over to West-//
M608 //uh-huh//
M194 [inaudible], to Rigg Bay
M608 mmhm
M194 first to learn how tae fly planes and all these, fly th- ye know that type of plane, so ye had.
M608 mmhm
M194 Ah we'd all nationalities during the War. and that eh, and then, of course, two, the army had a place some [?]dead-tree[/?] places at Cairnryan, three big camps at Cairnryan. Then up eh just about a mile out of Stranraer, maybe a mile, a mile and a half, they'd another lot of eh army troops, they'd the Royal Engineers, they were in another camp
M608 mmhm
M194 where the si- because they they built the railway
M608 mm
M194 the Royal Engineers built the railway from from the siding eh the [inaudible] railway siding to Cairnryan.
M608 mmhm
M194 Well, they were stationed up there and then, of course, there's eh the troops would come from Cairnryan ri- eh, at night-time by train //intae//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 what they cried the [inaudible] and then they'd di- they got off there and they'd have about a mile tae walk intae town
M608 Right.
M194 And everything, then of course they had a las- si- the last train at night was aboot eleven o'clock, back tae Cairnryan.
M608 mmhm
M194 Quite a few of them didnae make it [laugh] and they had tae walk tae //Cairnryan.//
M608 //[laugh]//
M194 That's when they [inaudible] in at the pictures or that or,
M608 uh-huh
M194 at the pubs and all that. they just had tae get on with it.
M608 Yeah.
M194 oh aye, and I mean, and I mean, di- down the, the especially on a Saturday, the wee restaurants restaurants in Stranraer were chock-a-block
M608 mmhm
M194 I mean, the chaps come in and they'd maybe go tae the canteen at di- at three o'clock, and get a cup of tea, and then they'd hae a wander round the toon gettin odds and ends like shavin cream and and all these kind of things, stuff, and then they'd maybe go to some of the wee cafes and have a, their tea
M608 mmhm
M194 then go to the first or second house of the pictures
M608 mmhm Were there many picture houses in //Stranraer?//
M194 //There was// two at that time.
M608 oh right.
M194 And then, well then ye had eh, both picture houses done a show at six o'clock and then a c- a quarter past eight
M608 mmhm
M194 Both of them, and then they changed the films every three times a week
M608 Changed the film three times
M194 times a week. So, of course, there's queues there ye mean, eh if ye wanted intae the pictures, it didnae matter whether it was the second house or the first house ye went tae, ye had to be down aboot roughly half an hour before the picture started if ye wanted to be near the front of the queue //kind of style.//
M608 //Aye.//
M194 cause of that many queuin up.
M608 mmhm
M194 and that [?]yes a did[/?], aye. oh aye they thingmied and then [sniff] and then the canteens so then the canteens too they could get cooked meals.
M608 mmhm
M194 So they could, but most of them just wanted a cup of tea and maybe a scone and a cake. And then at that time, well I mean, eh durin the War our, our, sweets and chocolates were rationed.
M608 Right.
M194 eh rationed. Well then they used to ha- eh have a supply every day there usually some they sold so many in the afternoon and so many at night in the canteens.
M608 mmhm
M194 Well the troo-, the troops the, some of the troops used to get fly and they all, whenever they opened in the afternoon they sell the ch- chocolates //So it meant//
M608 //Right.//
M194 that some of them, it was the same people who was gettin them every time.
M608 mmhm
M194 So what they had to do was vary it ye know, so instead of getting it first thing in the afternoon, they maybe had to get it half-past three, four o'clock or that //so//
M608 //Right.//
M194 they wouldnae know, and then some of them did come in and they would stay in the canteens and then the the ladies would say "And what are ye waitin on? Do ye think, think ye're gonna get the sweeties first, cause you got them yesterday", //and they had tae chase them//
M608 //[laugh]//
M194 away So they had tae, oh aye, and then, of course, wh- an odd time ye had tae get the the MPs and that in, just tae kinda quieten them doon. oh everything went, I mean there wasnae all that much bother wi them, so there wasnae.
M608 So it was an exciting time for the //town//
M194 //oh// t- aye, aye. I mean the only thing is ye had no lights, ye couldnae see where ye were goin.
M608 [laugh]
M194 Ye had tae go, but then, of course, th- and the torches in yer torch, ye had tae have a piece of eh greaseproof paper in it. so that yer light wouldnae be
M608 reflected?
M194 reflected. //kind of//
M608 //Aye.//
M194 just a wee a wee dot. And then and the the the cars and the buses, well their headlamps was filled in. and ye just had, on the likes of the buses, they had eh one strip about an inch wh- wide for aboot four inches long and then they'd one, another doon below that aboot two and a half inches long and then one at the bottom, aboot an inch
M608 mmhm
M194 just an- for aboot maybe [gesture] that? //for//
M608 //mmhm//
M194 and that was and that was yer light, and ye had tae s- kinda try and see in that.
M608 Aye.
M194 And then, of course, ye had tae have yer inside lights in yer buses dimmed too.
M608 mmhm course there wasnae the traffic.
M194 No, but then the, we, [inaudible] there wasnae so much traffic then, ye still had the military, we had still the m- //military movin aboot.//
M608 //Aye, true.// uh-huh mmhm
M194 So we had, still the military movin aboot
M608 mm
M194 oh t- aye oh ye never knew And then, of course, in them days, the buses, the conductors, conductors could speak into the conductors could speak into the driver through a window.
M608 mmhm
M194 And one night Uncle Robert was goin oot, we had taken the la- last bus to West [?]Freuch[/?] with airmen and the next thing I, I, I, a window opened and he thought it was going to be the conductor in tae speak tae him. Here it was a Canadian with a knife at his back, so it was. //[laugh]//
M608 //Really?//
M194 [laugh] He wan-, he wanted father to take them some, eh some eh I canna mind where he was to be taken ah
M608 God.
M194 Aye and, of course, some of the rest of the chaps seen him and knocked him doon.
M608 mm
M194 He just, he was, he'd had too much to drink, he'd had too much tae drink, John.
M608 Aye.
M194 and he ended up he opened open the wee window and had he says "you takin me such and such a place". I mean he actually poked the knife intae intae his back.
M608 Hijack a bus.
M194 Aye hijack a double-decker bus
M608 [laugh]
M194 Fif- with fifty-five men in it, so it is, aye
M608 God.
M194 Aye [inaudible]
M608 Anyway, we're being called //through to eat.//
M194 //[inaudible]// tea aye
M608 Anyway, thanks very //much.//
M194 //Thanks for it,// John.

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Interview 01: Stranraer man talking about WWII. 2021. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved January 2021, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=25.

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"Interview 01: Stranraer man talking about WWII." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2021. Web. January 2021. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=25.

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Information about Document 25

Interview 01: Stranraer man talking about WWII

Audio

Audio audience

General public
For gender Mixed
Audience size 1

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Spontaneous

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2000
Recording person id 608
Size (min) 32
Size (mb) 154

Audio medium

Radio/audio

Audio setting

Leisure/entertainment
Private/personal
Other in interviewer's home

Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Family members or other close relationship
Speakers knew each other Yes

Audio speaker relationships

Family members or other close relationship

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 608
Year of transcription 2003
Year material recorded 2003
Word count 6480

Audio type

Interview
General description Informal interview with William Wilson, retired electrician from Stranraer.

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 194
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1930
Age left school 14
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Retired miner
Place of birth Stranraer
Region of birth Wigtown
Birthplace CSD dialect area Wgt
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Stranraer
Region of residence Wigtown
Residence CSD dialect area Wgt
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Mechanic/Bus driver
Father's place of birth Stranraer
Father's region of birth Wigtown
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Wgt
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife
Mother's place of birth Stranraer
Mother's region of birth Wigtown
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Wgt
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At home

Participant

Participant details

Participant id 608
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation University Professor
Place of birth Ayr
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Bridge of Weir
Region of residence Renfrew
Residence CSD dialect area Renfr
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Insurance Broker
Father's place of birth Auchinleck
Father's region of birth S Ayr
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Dental Receptionist
Mother's place of birth Ayr
Mother's region of birth S Ayr
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Mother's country of birth Scotland

Languages

Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes In most everyday situations
Portuguese Yes No No Yes When trying to communicate with my in-laws
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes In domestic/activist circles; reading literature

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