More detail is required to be added to some of the photos, if you have sent me details of these I thank you I just haven’t got round to marking them up yet.
I must thank Willie Ellis who spent many hours with me, going through these a while back.
If you know the order of the people in the photos email me the names in order and I’ll update when I can, please note the photo number that is in (Brackets).
I have many more photos to sort and put up in Galleries which takes time as you can imagine, there is no point putting up photos with no detail. Also as you can see a lot of the photos are not picture perfect and clear. Donnie MacIver who took most of these had loads of blurry pics so I need to try and edit them to clean them up.
The next priority project is the Christmas Cards, so if you moved home please make sure we have your up to date address.
As we fight our own war against a virus, remember all who never returned from all conflicts.
At the 11th hour we will remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
We give our thanks to those who never came back, those who came back broken physically and mentally, and we thank those who continue to serve.
Lest we forget.
105 years ago, there was a cease-fire in the trenches of WW1, and soldiers on all sides found that they had more in common with their enemies than they realized…. As Christmas approaches, may we all be reminded to show love and warmth to our fellow men, and focus on the things that truly matter.
Angus as known by his family or as a lot of you will remember him, “Big Gus the Bass Drummer” was born in Alderney the third largest inhabited of the Channel Islands, (It is only 3 square miles), on the 26th August 1926.
Growing up on Alderney was a world away from life in Glasgow.
The German occupation of the Channel Islands was nearing and Gus at the age of 13 was evacuated on Sunday 23 June 1940. They arrived on the South coast of England and were placed onto trains to be sent across Great Britain for a safer life.
Gus along with his family and the other islanders, approximately 1500, were originally being sent to London, but there was a mix up with the trains and they all ended up in Glasgow.
Arriving in Glasgow the refugees were sent to various places to be allocated a place to stay, Gus was sent to Whiteinch and Gordon Park Church Hall.
It was there that he was to meet one of his life long friends Tom McColl (The Secretary’s father). Tom said that he saw Gus wearing this unusual belt, it had a big shiny Alderney Crest on it and he asked Gus about it, they were friends ever since that moment.
Needless to say Gus joined the 214 BB and that’s where a great friendship was also formed with Willie McDonald.
Gus, Tom and Willie (The Three Amigos) were all members of the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) part of the Home Guard Civil Defence. (As described in Tom McColl’s article ‘The War in Japan Part 3‘)
After leaving the BB Gus much to the horror of his Father and Grandfather, joined the ‘Red Coats’ The Scots Guards. (Up to this point the family had been in the Royal Artillery)
On the 15 March 1945 he joined the Scots Guards and was sent to Caterham, Surrey. Where he joined the 1st Battalion on 19 March 1945 as Drummer 2704401
In May 1945 Gus was posted to Rossetti Barracks, Trieste in North East Italy.
Trieste in May 1945 was a chaotic city filled with cornered German, Croatian and Italian soldiers who continued to fight despite Italy’s capitulation in 1943.
The city was the focal point of a bitter territorial dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia. The Yugoslavs had hoped to strengthen their post-war claims to Trieste by being first to liberate it and then putting in place their own military administration.
The Western Allies, however, had planned that the city should come under Allied Military Government like other parts of liberated Italy, pending a final peace settlement.
For some weeks, Trieste was under an uneasy dual occupation. The problem was resolved diplomatically at the highest Allied levels, with the Yugoslavs reluctantly withdrawing from the city in mid-June.
Gus enjoyed his time in Trieste, much of his time being spent on riot duty.
As well as being a drummer in the 1st Battalion Pipe Band, he was also a Battalion Buglar.
In October 1947 he was posted to Pirbright with duties in Chelsea Barracks, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.
Although his family had returned to the Channel Islands at the end of the German occupation, on demob, Gus decided to remain in Glasgow.
Gordon Park had a lot to answer for, as it was through the church that he met his wife Grace via a friend Doreen Black. They were married by Rev Harry L Thomson in May 1951 and Tom McColl was their Best Man. They lived for a short time on Jersey where their daughter Grace was born in 1952. Living on a rural farm (and no doubt after just having a baby), had made Grace very homesick and later that year they decided to return to Glasgow.
On their return Grace took not well with TB and was hospitalised. Thankfully ‘Streptomycin’ had just been discovered as a wonder drug and she recovered. On her release from hospital they moved into their newly built house in Drumchapel, thereafter moving to Kingsway, closer to work and overlooked the Clyde from the 18th floor of their high rise flat.
Gus was Head Timekeeper at Charles Connell’s Shipyard in Scotstoun for many years and took no prisoners if a worker challenged his pay packet at the end of the week.
He played the Bass Drum in the Rutherglen Pipe Band, along with Alex MacIver and Willie McDonald as shown here at Cowal Games in 1972.
Gus was never a man for smiling in a photograph as can be seen here at the 2004 BB Reunion at the OTC in Glasgow University in 2004. The three Amigos are on the left Tom McColl, Gus McDonald and Willie McDonald.
Gus passed away on 7th April 2007 aged 80.
We would like to thank Gus’ daughter Grace for supplying the material for this post.
The following account is written by Willie’s daughter Eileen McDonald.
Willie now lives with her at home on the sea front in the Argyle and Bute town of Helensburgh, which is on The Firth of Clyde.
William “Willie” McDonald and his National Service with the Royal Engineers
Nowadays my father’s memory is, as he puts it himself, “blitzed”, a rather fitting expression from one who lived through the events of the Second World War on Clydeside. This means that this account of his National Service years has involved supplementing what he recalls with family recollections of memories he has shared in the past, plus some detective work. Amongst the memories are those kindly contributed by my aunt, Edith McDonald, my father’s younger sister.
To prevent confusion, I should explain that I have referred to my father as Willie in this article, because this version of William was and is used by his parents and sisters, at school, in the 214 and during his National Service days. Then he met his future wife, Bunty Campbell, who, it seems, preferred the name Bill, and, just for once, she got her own way, with the result that his post 1950 friends, work colleagues and later piping contacts all know him as Bill. Writing Christmas cards with him involves the extra challenge of remembering which name the recipient knows him as!
It would seem that Friday 10th August 1945 was a day of mixed emotions for the McDonald family living at 1595 Dumbarton Road in Scotstoun. On one hand, there were understandable feelings of sadness and anxiety because the son of the house, William, known to all as Willie, was leaving to start his National Service that day. On the other hand, as his little sister Edith recalls, the family was relieved to hear the announcement of the Japanese Government’s intention to surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Agreement. This apparently set off some early VJ celebrations, but, most importantly for the McDonalds, it meant that Willie would not be in combat in the Far East.
Willie recalls his initial training as having involved a rather choppy sea journey to Northern Ireland for initial training, but Edith recalls him having taken a tram to Glasgow Central and a train via Edinburgh down to Darlington to do initial training in County Durham, so this point is unclear. It seems at any rate that by December 1945 he was in Yorkshire, judging by a group photograph taken of him with his fellow Royal Engineer trainees by a photographer based in Clitheroe.
He was in Section 3 of the B Company, 150 War Party, No. 1 Training Battalion of the Royal Engineers. Willie identifies the two men left and right of the senior officer in the front row as their trainers. The formality of the men’s expressions suggests a commemoration of their passing their training. Willie’s allocation to the Royal Engineers would have come about because he had already studied one year of architecture at the Glasgow School of Art when he was called up.
A further group photo, unfortunately undated but with signatures on the back, shows Willie and company at Chatham, where the Institution of Royal Engineers continues to be located to this day.
This is a new group of fellow Engineers, some smiling this time, more of a unit now perhaps? There is a clue that these are the twenty-two comrades who Willie will serve alongside in Germany in the presence here of one Bill Gurr (second row three from right). He will not only be Willie’s best friend during his time abroad, he will also in time become his brother-in-law when Bill’s twin brother Arthur marries Willie’s older sister Irene, and he will be best man at Willie’s own wedding to Bunty in 1954.
In general, relieved of the unpleasant prospect of having to take part in destruction and armed combat, Willie seems to have enjoyed the camaraderie of his time in the Engineers, particularly once he arrived in Germany.
He remembers having been involved in the construction of Bailey Bridges, probably with pontoon elements, though he says he never actually built any in Germany.
His battalion was accommodated in the “Waldkaserne” or “Forest Barracks” on the edge of the small town of Hilden, located roughly halfway between the cities of Dusseldorf and Wuppertal in the industrial northern Ruhr area of Germany.
Completed in 1938 for the National Socialist (Nazi) Troops in the area, the Waldkaserne had been surrendered to liberating US Forces before being allocated to the British Army of the Rhein (BAOR) on 15 July 1945 as part of the division of Germany into occupation zones.
Hilden as a town had largely escaped the horrific flattening by Allied bombing raids suffered by large cities like Berlin and Dresden.
Not far from the barracks there was also the requisitioned Waldbald or “Forest Outdoor Swimming Pool”, a place where Willie seems to have spent many a happy hour when not on duty. The high diving boards got good use when he was around.
Edith McDonald estimates that her brother returned home around 1948. It’s a valuable reminder of the strong work ethic required of those returning from National Service at that time that Willie took up a job at the Housing Department by day while continuing his architecture degree at the same time. After four years of evening classes and completing Art School assignments on a drawing board propped up on an easel in his bedroom, Willie finally graduated from Glasgow School of Architecture on 4 June 1952.
Willie a piper had played in Pipe Bands all of his life, including Rutherglen (along with Alex MacIver and Gus McDonald), Helensburgh & Clan Colquhoun Pipe Bands. He was also a regular attender of the Piping Club in Glasgow.
Lifelong friendships were made within the 214, especially with Tom McColl and Gus McDonald ‘The Three Amigos’, as seen here in March 1943.
Willie wrote a great summary of his time in the 214 and BB life during the war years, this will be covered in a separate post.
Sorry to advise that John McCarron passed away very peacefully In Perth Royal Infirmary on Wednesday the 28th October 2020, aged 83.
John was Principal Teacher of Chemistry and Assistant Rector at Perth High School. He then became the first Rector of the new Dunblane High School He took early retirement in his fifties due to ill health. In recent years he did not have the best of health.
John’s wife Jean advises he always spoke fondly of his days in the 214.
John and Jean have three of a family, John, Margaret and Kathryn and three grandchildren, Sarah, Sean and María. He was very proud of them all. John also has a sister Mary.
I’m sure all the Ex Members send their condolences to the family at this sad and restrictive time.
As the clock strikes 11am today on this unique Remembrance Sunday, many will stand in silence on their doorsteps due to the intervention of the Coronavirus.
We all remember as 214 boys, standing, usually on that dreich Sunday morning about to parade along to Gordon Park from Bowling Green Rd, frozen to the core.
The older amongst us will remember parading up to the Cenotaph at Victoria Park, prior to the building of the Clydeside Expressway.
My Grandfather Malcolm McColl, who served with the Royal Field Artillery at Ypres (Flanders fields & The Battle of Passchendaele), had the honour of parading with the Congregation of Gordon Park up to the Cenotaph. He was the church wreath bearer for many years, with his son Tom McColl (Cameronian Rifles, Singapore, Malaya), taking over from him on his passing.
We remember sitting upstairs on the BB pews, while Alex MacIver played Flowers of the Forrest in the distance, after the wreaths had been placed at the church memorial.
The youngest amongst us not really understanding the true meaning of those remembrance services and the older ones thankful they never had to endure what their fore-bearers had gone through.
Today we remember the atrocities of the war in Japan in a three part series.
The 214 Boys at War
Since many of our older Veteran Ex-Members are no longer with us, we are following up our ‘Flowers of the Forrest” Article with some memories of our own 214 boys at War.
This Article is about our Secretary’s father Tom McColl, one of our older members who recently passed away in February 2020, aged 92.
The War in Japan Part 3 – Tom McColl – The Japanese Surrender
As a boy in his teens Tom was a messenger in the ARP (Air Raid Precautions part of the Civil Defence), along with his lifelong friends Gus McDonald & Willie McDonald. They were based at Bankhead Primary School, cycling between command centres, delivering Air Raid reports and orders regarding Anti-aircraft gun positioning.
Often cycling through debris and smoke, they would be praying that a bomb wouldn’t land close by when they were out.
They all received this special National Service badge that was issued by the Boys Brigade.
As youngsters the incendiary bombs would bounce into the close opening and they had to throw them out into the street before they caught fire.
One day walking along Dumbarton Road Tom saw a parachute coming down, heading for the top of Elm Street at Victoria Park Drive South.
He went to run towards it, thinking it was a German soldier, but his dad grabbed him stopping him in his tracks. A few minutes later the parachute landed, which had a bomb attached and BOOM!
The back of the end terraced house was blown away. (The house was rebuilt and today if you look closely, you can see it is a different design from the one on the other side of Elm Street.)
Tom was called up into the Cameronian Scottish Rifles (laterly the Camerons), at Brig of Don Barracks in Aberdeen and after 10 weeks training, he had service in Malaya around the Singapore area at the end of the war against the Japanese.
Leaving from Liverpool on the troop ship Georgic (sister ship of the Britannic both owned by the White Star Line), he sailed to Bombay in India, via the Bay of Biscay and the Suez Canal.
When they arrived at their transit camp, there was a lot of green faced squaddies. This was an amazing adventure for a young lad from Scotstoun.
After her final voyage in 1954, the ship was taken out of service and she was laid up in Kames Bay, in the Isle of Bute before being dismantled at Faslane in February 1956.
Tom then headed (via an Indian walking paced train) to Madras and another transit camp, there after he travelled on the troop ship SS Cheshire to Singapore.
A keen photographer, Tom had his camera with him, which supplied many of these pictures.
This was at the time when the Japanese surrendered in Singapore September 1945 after the first atomic bomb ‘Enola Gay’ had fallen on Hiroshima.
Tom had to guard the Japanese soldiers as they came in to surrender, be searched and processed at the camp in Kluang.
He said that they were broken men, as this was so dishonourable in their eyes.
He like many veterans on their return was not a fan of the Japanese, he often said “I don’t like them, after what they did to our boys. They were fierce soldiers and never gave up. Thank goodness we had the Gurkha’s on our side.”
On one of his trips guarding a 3 ton truck full of dejected prisoners on their way to camp vividly stuck in his mind.
He was at the back of the truck, sitting at the tail gate with rifle and bayonet fixed.
After a drive through the countryside they arrived at Changi jail, (which at this time was now being used to hold Japanese prisoners after the Allied POW’s had been released).
As they went to get out the truck he realised his bayonet was caught in the roof tarpaulin! He shudders to think what could have happened if the prisoners had tried to escape.
(The last Japanese WW2 soldier to surrender happened in 1974, (Hiroo Onoda) he had been in a mountainous jungle area of the Philippines and wouldn’t believe the war was over. They had to get his commanding officer to tell him they had surrendered 29 years previously, before he would believe them.
Today we remember the atrocities of the war in Japan in a three part series.
The 214 Boys at War
The War in Japan Part 2– Joe Noble (Snr) – in Burma.
Joseph Watt Noble was the father of Joe Noble the 214 drummer that I’m sure all the Ex Members know.
During WW2 he served in India and Burma with the 1st Battalion Cameronians, later in his service transferring to the Royal Corp of Signals.
Joe served as part of the “Chindits” and didn’t talk much about the war, only recounting the funny moments. It is thought that he served in the ‘Second Expedition’ of Burma.
Many of the servicemen, who witnessed the atrocities of battle against the Japanese Army in Burma, did likewise.
Joe was a signaller and would have formed part of a guerrilla unit called The Chindits.
“He had been cut off behind enemy lines for a bit of time and they had managed to make their way through the jungle and get back to relative safety on the Allied side.” He only ever briefly mentioned this to his family.
Orde Wingate DSO & The Chindits
‘Chindits’ was the name given to the Long Range Penetration (LRP) groups that operated in the Burmese jungle.
They were named after the Chinthe, a mythical Burmese beast that was half-lion and half-eagle and, to Brigadier Orde Wingate, symbolised the need for close air-land co-ordination.
The Chindits carried out two major expeditions in Burma.
February 1943, code-named Operation Longcloth, consisted of a force of 3,000 men who marched over 1,000 miles during the campaign. It was an experimental operation to prove British forces could operate many hundreds of miles from their own bases in the midst of Japanese controlled territory and to test Wingate’s theories and to gain experience.
March 1944 was on a much larger scale and consisted of a force of 20,000 men. They were given the name Special Force and consisted mainly of British battalions supplemented by Burma Rifles, Gurkha and Nigerian battalions and a company of Hong Kong volunteers.
‘We need not, as we go forward into the conflict, suspect opportunity of withdrawing and are here because we have chosen to bear the burden and the heat of the day.’
– Brigadier Orde Wingate addressing his men, 13 February 1943.
Chindit Order of Battle January 1944
The Chindits were officially known as ‘Special Force’ or the ‘3rd Indian Infantry Division.’
N.B. The title 3rd Indian division was only given in order to deceive the Japanese.
There were six brigades, each referred to by a nickname. Each brigade had its own HQ situated near an airfield and an HQ column in the field.
More than likely Joe was part of Profound – 111th Brigade, which consisted of:-
1st Bn. The Cameronians: 26 and 90 Columns
2nd Bn. The Kings Own Royal Regt: 41 and 46 Columns
3rd Bn. 4th Gurkha Rifles: 30 Columns
This Regiment was one of a force of 6 Regiments that attacked from behind the Japanese lines.
Profound’s objective was to fly in and then block road and rail links south of Indaw to prevent Japanese reinforcements coming up from Mandalay.
Each brigade was divided into columns and a headquarters.
A column had about 400 men and typically consisted of,
Infantry Company of four platoons armed with rifles and light machine guns.
Heavy weapons platoon armed with two Vickers machine guns, two 3-inch mortars and anti-tank weapons.
Commando platoon for demolitions and setting booby traps.
Reconnaissance platoon with a section of Burma Rifles.
The column also included RAF, sapper, signaller and medical detachments.
The RAF detachment included an active pilot and was responsible for directing air support and the air evacuation of the wounded
Each column had about 56 mules, much less than the first expedition, as there would be more reliance on air supplies. The mules provided the transport for the column. Ten mules were required to carry the radio equipment, including the batteries, generators and petrol. The remaining mules carried other heavy equipment, weapon and supplies.
Once in Burma the Chindits would attack and cut supply lines and generally harass the rear of the Japanese forces on the frontline facing British, American and Chinese forces.
Like the 1st Chindit expedition, the column formations were designed for movement through the jungle. This mobility would be the strength of a Chindit column.
A column would emerge from the jungle to blow up a dump or ambush an enemy convoy and then slip away again into the jungle where the enemy would be unable or afraid to follow.
When necessary though, the columns would reform into battalions and brigades to attack and seize larger targets or to repel attacks from a large enemy force. Troops would be airlifted to airfields by gliders and supplied likewise.
Not much is known of Joe’s action, apart that he was cut off behind enemy lines.
We can only imagine it could be similar to this soldier’s ‘Jungle’ story as a Chindit, which is one of many on the Burma Star Associations website.
The interesting thing about this picture from a 214 perspective is that Alex Ibell, Joe King, Ian MacLellan’s father, and Hector Russell’s father all worked at the Blackburn factory in Dumbarton where these planes were manufactured.
Joe who was a signaller, spent some time in India prior to going into the Jungle. He would have received training similar to that instructed by Alex MacIver, who Captained a training outfit in India at this time. Who knows maybe they met?
Joe (snr) survived his spell in Burma returning in late 1945 / early1946, to Aberdeenshire after the war.
He was welcomed home meeting his son Joe (jnr) who was aged 3, for the first time.
The Burma Star is awarded for operational service in Burma between 11 December 1941 and 2 September 1945.
Those serving in Bengal and Assam in India and China, Hong Kong, Malaya or Sumatra between other specified dates may also qualify.
The colours of the ribbon represent the sun, British and Commonwealth forces.
If you also qualify for the Pacific Star, you will only be awarded the first star earned. You will then receive a clasp with the title of the second star earned which is worn on the ribbon of the first.
1939 to 1945 Star
The 1939 to 1945 Star is awarded to personnel who completed operational service overseas between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 (2 Sept 1945 in Far East).
The colours of the ribbon represent the 3 services. The star is worn with the dark blue stripe furthest from the left shoulder.
“Although my dad didn’t talk about the war hardly at all, other than when he remembered funny incidents, he was not best pleased when I joined the Toyota Pipe Band.
I don’t think he ever quite forgave the Japanese.
He did in fact consider sending back his Burma Star when Emperor Hirohito was granted a royal visit to the UK but I think that an intervention by Lord Mountbatten persuaded many unhappy Burma Star holders to keep their medals.
I doubt whether my dad, who passed away in 2001, would have thought that he’d been given 85 years when he was embroiled in the Burma Campaign.”
Joe Noble (Jnr) – 214 BB Ex Member – 15th August 2020.
If Joe (Snr) had been fortunate enough to survive till today, he would have been 104 years old.