Monday, 20 October 2014

Crieff’s “ Dad’s Army “ – the Home Guard of World War 2






Crieff Home Guard


After the onset of WW 2 , the safety of small towns  such as Crieff was in the hands of  what was termed  the LDVF – the Local Defence Force Volunteer This somewhat cumbersome title  was  changed  on the 9th of August 1940 to the Home Guard . The BBC series  Dad’s Army ran from 1968 to 1977 with a number of well known “ vintage “ actors of the time including  Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring ( pronounced Manner - ing ! )  , John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Wilson, Clive Dunn as Corporal Jones  and a host of others . This  sit com was based very much on the belief  that the Home Guard  was  made  of bumbling  incompetents  who were either  retired  or were in reserved  occupations .My own father  who was employed in the general office of  a large steel manufacturing company in the West of Scotland fell into  the latter category and I know how  seriously they took their task in their contribution to the Nations defence .


I have in my possession a document entitled  “Diary of the 3rd Perthshire Bn ( Battalion ) H.G  ( Home Guard) “ and sub titled “ Historical Notes- December 1944 “ . On the basis that the document is  some seventy years old , I am of the belief that I can disclose  some of its contents  without danger of being to The Tower  for High Treason !
In addition to the Diary , I had  the privilege of  interviewing a  local Crieff man , the late Johnnie Brough , as part of an Open University Oral History course I was undertaking back in the 1990s . Johnnie had  suffered a disability as a result of polio as a child  and  was rejected  for army service . He opted  to join the Home Guard and  some of the  tales he related were perhaps not suitable  for  inclusion in the  official Diary !   
I have  chosen , nevertheless , to select some exerts  from the Diary which perhaps  reflect what it was really like  to be in the Crieff and neighbouring areas Home Guard away back in those  far off days . This part of Strathearn was a busy   place with numerous regiments  based in and around Crieff including a Free Polish Army Unit at the  Hydro which had been commandeered  for military use , the RASC in the Taylor’s Institute School ( the school had  been moved in with Crieff Primary )  . After that came a Battalion of the Enniskillen Fusiliers,  a Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment as well as a Battalion of th Cameronians . There were troops at the Market Park where the Canteen was located as well as Nissan Huts erected at the Bridgend .   A prisoner of war  camp was located at Cultybraggan for German soldiers whilst in Crieff ,  Italian prisoners of war were housed .
In May and June  1940 the LDVF was raised in this part of Strathearn  and was termed “No. 3 Company, No. 9 Group LDVF “ which was later to become the “ 3rd Perthshire Battalion Home Guard “.The Auchterarder Platoon covered Auchterarder , Strathallan ,Duppplin and Dunning and Gask and Aberuthven .It was under the leadership of JC McIntyre assisted  by N McLaren , Sir JD Roberts , ADC Main and GA Buchanan , Across the Strath in Crieff the initial set up was led  by DW Crighton and the three Crieff sections  by RJB Sellar, JM Scrimgeour and SDW Stewart . In addition there were  three other sections  based at Amulree Madderty and Trinity College 
( Glenalmond ) .

By all accounts the local Home Guard  were well set up in terms of arms and equipment but initially this was not the case . According to Johnnie Brough all they had  were pikestaffs – long tubes of steel with a pin stuck in the end . The only rifles they had were Lee Enfield relics from World War 1 supplied by Morrison’s’ Academy OTC ( Officer Training Corps ) ! They seemed , however, to be very much involved in routine training and participation in combined  exercises  with the regular army. The Diary  mentions a number of incidents which no doubt raided  the blood  pressure of the elderly  members of the platoon . In the early days of the war the Home Guard / LDVF investigated a report of parachutists in the hills behind Glenalmond . This  turned out  to be the RAF practicing the dropping of supplies  by parachute ! In 1941 the  Strathallan Platoon turned  out  to search for a parachutist in the immediate  vicinity after a  number of  reports  were received . It turned out to be a false alarm as the culprit  was not a human being  but a stray barrage balloon !

To keep the men on their toes regular exercises were held in the area . The Diary  recounts a particular one in March 1942 : “ Exercise ‘Pongo’ saw B Company attack A Company at Findo Gask Aerodrome in which rapid reinforcing was attempted  by mobile Platoons against a threat  by paratroops . An engagement at the edge of the aerodrome resulted in a useful lesson being learned “ What the lesson was  it does  not  state  but I am sure it was all worthwhile !
A somewhat more bizarre tale was told to me by Johnnie Brough : “ I can remember something big was happening and two Divisions came down from the North of Scotland . They sent us to Gask School on Saturday and Sunday .We had sandwiches  and our dixies .We tried  to cook on the stove in the class room  but it would have taken a year to brew up and cook . One of the boys said there were lots of bricks lying outside  so we  went out and built  fire . We took some coals from the head mistresses room and piled on the logs . Black out or no black out , we all had our tea outside . What a night ! At the same time we had been told to keep our eyes on the road passed the House of Gask which crosses the bridge  where the main road  to Perth goes . We blackened our faces and hid behind the hedge . A bloke on a bike came along and one of the lads jumped out . The poor man got such a fright that he leapt from his bike into  a ditch . “ A thought it was a ******* ghost ! “ , he blurted out  . I think he had had a wee drink or two ! “

How  many men were involved in the Home Guard during the War ? The Diary tells  us that 1944 there were 207 men serving in  Crieff, 116 in Auchterarder and some 664 in the other parts of the  district to the east of Crieff. Interestingly , the Comrie and St Fillans areas appear to have  been attached  to a different Battalion than that of Crieff.

I ran a blog in July 2012  concerning , the oldest member of Crieff Home Guard , Alexander “ Snacks “ Taylor which makes  fascinating reading :

Alexander Taylor was seventy-seven when war broke out. Despite his age he managed to enlist and in doing so succeeded in becoming the oldest person in uniform in the British forces

Taylor had  served in the Boer War as well as WW1 and lived with his  family in the Drill Hall in Meadow Place where  he was employed as an instructor . After this  he moved  to Mitchell Street and  became  a tobacconist in High Street where Boots the Chemist is now located .

In conclusion  let  me list those  mentioned in the Diary who received Certificates of Commendation  for Good  Service in the Crieff Home Guard 
.
Major ADC Main   1944, Lieut A Dow 1942, Sgt W Shand 1944, Sgt Gilfillan 1943, Sgt S Christie 1944, Sgt J Clark 1944, Sgt J Ferguson 1944, Sgt R Murdoch  1944, Sgt T Rintoul 1944 and Private J Urquhart 1944.


Monday, 6 October 2014

Castle Cluggy and Loch Monzievaird , Ochtertyre


Castle Cluggy and Loch Monzievaird  , Ochtertyre


Loch Monzievaird ( above ) 


 Sir Patrick Keith Murray with the castle in the trees 
behind the crannog 














Castle Cluggy


We have discussed at some  length in these “ blogs “ the presence of  crannogs  or artificial islands  in Strathearn and north in Loch Tay in ancient Breadalbane in April 2013 (http://perthshirecrieffstrathearnlocalhistor.blogspot.co.uk/2013_04_01_archive.html)
These are an incredible reminder to us  how and where our ancient forbearers dwelt and existed at  time  when native  soil was inhabited by wild animals as well as aggressive natives ! Loch Monzievaird  has  excellent examples of these crannogs  but in addition  on the north shore  lies one of Strathearn’s ancient dwellings , namely Castle Cuggy . Located and accessed from the west at Loch Mozvievaird Chalets , the Castle is very old , being described in 1467 as being “antiquum fortalicium” – an ancient castle !
Tradition has it that it was the home of the Red Comyn the protagonist of Robert the Bruce , King of Scotland .Legend tells us that Castle Cluggy was one of the possessions of Malise, Earl of Strathearn  It came into possession of the Drummond family and in 1488 was  the subject of a legal battle with the Murray family over ownership . In 1650 it was occupied by Sir William Murray  , first Baronet of Ochtertyre when Cromwell was endeavouring to take over Scotland .It lies on a piece of land  known as the “Dry Isle “  .The crannog  due  south of it was said  to have  been used in days gone by as a place of containment for any prisoners held  by the castle. It is now a scheduled monument under the ownership of Sir Brian Souter of Ochtertyre . Much of the original castle has been destroyed revealing an impressive  square tower with thick walls and arrow slots at various levels .
The  natural beauty of Loch Monzievaird make it a pleasant walk around its perimeter shores .



Perthshire Crieff Strathearn Local History Blogs

A Current Index




The Blog has been running since February 2012 and has  published well over 100 stories of the Strath . This Index  will allow  you  to see clearly  what is  available . To look at the   chosen subject look at the "Archive " heading  on the right hand of the opening page an  click on the  year The Blogs are in chronological order so scroll down  till the  chosen one  is accessed . 

1.       26 February 2012 : Welcome  !
2.       26 February 2012 : Colin's Books on Perthshire
3.       27 February 2012 : The Lost Castle of Fowlis !
4.       27 February 2012 : Gone ! Gone ! Gone!
5.       27 February 2012 : Ferntower House
6.       28 February 2012 : Our Shame Over Inchaffray Abbey
7.       1 March 2012 : Some Strathearn Names and their Origins 
8.       5 March 2012 : The Crieff Coat of Arms
9.       11 March 2012 : Crieff some 6 000 years ago !
10.   18 March 2012 :The Cursus of Crieff
11.   20 March 2012 : The Oldest Roman Frontier
12.   22 March 2012 : The Crieff Tryst
13   29 March 2012 : Strathearn – the Kingdom of Fortren - birthplace of modern Scotland
14.   30 March 2012 : A Bloody Battle in the Heart of Strathearn
15.   1 April 2012 : Strathearn's Pictish Trail
16.   1 April 2012 : Intrigue In Pictish Strathearn
17.   4 April 2012 : THE CELTIC EARLS OF STRATHEARN - MEDIEVAL ROBBER BARONS ?
18.   5 April 2012 : Tom a Chastel - The Royal Castle of Strathearn
19.   6 April 2012 : The Breadalbane Campbells, The Campbell Brothers of Crieff and the American Civil War
20.   11 April 2012 : The Breadalbane Campbells , The Campbell Brothers of Crieff and The American Civil War Part Two
21.   1 April 2012 :Strathearn's Pictish Trail
22.   15 April 2012 : The MacRosty Bandstand -Crieff's Edwardian Gem
23.   1 May 2012 : The Story of Weaving  in Crieff and Strathearn  ( Part One )
24.   10 May 2012 : The Story of Weaving in Crieff & Strathearn ( Part Two)
25.   22 May 2012 : The Story of Weaving in Crieff & Strathearn ( Part Three )
26.   26 May 2012 : Fancy A Trip On The Crieff Canal ??
27.   2 June 2012 : The Story of Transport in the Strath
28.   6 June 2012 : Witchcraft in Strathearn - Part One of Two
29.   11 June 2012 : Witchcraft in Strathearn - Part Two of Two           
30.   18 June 2012 : The Story of Highland Toffee
31.   22 June 2012 :David Mallet , Crieff poet and con man .
32.   27 June 2012 : The Rev. Dr David Malcom LL.D , academic, minister , teacher and forgotten poet of Madderty and Crieff ( 1763 – 1833 )
33.   3 July 2012 : The Pow - Strathearn's Historical Drain !
34.   9 July 2012 : The Rise and Demise of the Leather Tanning Industry in Crieff & Strathearn in the 18th and 19th Centuries
35.   13 July 2012 : The Crieff Riot of 1780
36.   14 July 2102 : THE BURNING OF THE STRATHEARN TOWNS AND VILLAGES : Part One
37.   15 July 2012 : The Burning of The Strathearn Towns & Villages : PART TWO
38.   17 July 2012 :The Story of Ferntower House
39.   18 July 2012 : General Sir David Baird ( 1757 to 1829 )
40.   22 July 2012 : Alexander “ Snacks ” Taylor (1862 –1954) : Crieff Soldier's Incredible Military Record
41.   6 August 2012 : Peter Crerar (1882 –1961 ) “ A pioneer of many interests “
42.   10 August 2012 : The Village and Parish of Blackford
43.   12 August 2012 : Tullibardine Chapel – A Pre Reformation Gem Well Worth A Visit
44.   23 August 2012 : The Wells of Strathearn - magical , mystical , Holy and ordinary !
45.   25 August 2012 : Six Months Of My Local History Blog
46.   5 September 2102 : Celebrate Crieff- A Festival of History
47.   5 September 2012 : Well,well, well – yet more wells ! Once Crieff’s only source of fresh water
48.   7 September 2012 : Bonnie Strathearn
49.   14 September 2012 : Lewis Miller - farm boy - religious rebel - entrepreneur - lad o' pairts !
50.   23 September 2012 : Religion is an intensely personal thing and indeed traditionally it i
51.   23 September 2012 : Churches of the Strath - a Way of Life
52.   7 October 2012  : St Fillans Perthshire - a look into it's past
53.   28 October 2012 : The Witches Maze At Tullibole Castle Crook of Devon
54.   4 November 2012 : William McGregor ( 1846 –1911 ), football pioneer
55.   5 November 2012 : Ewan and Uncle Denis( Ewan McGregor and his Uncle Denis )
56.   21 November 2012 : Trades and Industries That Have long Gone
57.   22 November 2012 : The Last Thatched House In Crieff
58.    13 December 2012 :  Where was that ? The Crieff of yester year !
59.    13 December 2012 : The Perthshire Clearances and Glen Beich
60.   31 December 2012 : New Year : Hogmanay in the Strath and the Comrie Flambeaux
61.   11 January 2013 : The Crieff Burgh Band /Crieff Silver Band
62.   12 February 2013 : Thanks for looking !
63.   19 February 2013 : Comrie Floods of 1898 & 1928
64.   21 February 2013 : Crieff Community Action Plan 2013 / 2018 - History Repeats Itself !
65.   4 March 2013 : Crieff to Perth Road Building in the 18th Century
66.   5 March 2013 : Ruberslaw House - a relic of Crieff's Georgian past
67.   6 March 2013 : What a " Relief " - a tale about our religious past and a forgotten Kirk that still stands!
68.   8 March 2013 : Cock Fighting In Crieff -Big Crowds and Big Money In The 19th Century !
69.   11 March 2013 : Bridgend and Crieff in the Early 19th Century
70.   21 March 2013 : Yes – These Are Really Strathearn Names !
71.   24 March 2013 : Jacobites of Strathearn - the'45 Put Into Perspective
72.   2 April 2013 : The Stayt of Crieff - Site of the Court of the Earls of Strathearn
73.   29 April 2013 : Crannogs – the amazing artificial islands that abound in Perthshire’s many Lochs
74.   10 May 2013 : A look at the historic village of Methven and its Castle
75.   27 May 2013 : Strathearn and Perthshire's Role in the Wars of Independence : Wallace and Bruce .
76.   7 June 2013 : The Carpow Logboat a late Bronze Age gem plucked from mud banks of the River Tay
77.   18 June 2013 : The History of the Broich Cursus Gradually Unravels !
78.   28 June 2013 : The Drummonds of Strathearn - their Castle , Rob Roy and a King's
mistress !
79.   14 July 2013 : A Roman Fort on the Edge of Their World
80.   24 July 2013 : Auchterarder in the 1790s - home to the Ryder Cup in 2014 at its Gleneagles Golf Club !
81.   5 August 2013 : Crieff in the early Victorian Days
82.   6 August 2013 : The Sad Demise of The Crieff and Strathearn Hand Loom Weavers c 1860
83.   11 August 2013: Crieff at the time of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1897
84.   16 August 2013 : INNERPEFFRAY - AN ANCIENT CHAPEL - THE OLDEST LENDING LIBRARY IN SCOTLAND PLUS  A ROMAN FORD AND ROAD !
85.   29 August 2013 : Crieff’s High Street Before World War 1 ( 1913/1914 ) Part One
86.   5 September 2013 : The Murder of the “ Red Fox “ - a mystery unsolved for over 250 years
87.   23 September 2013 :Toshach Castle - Strathearn Stronghold of the Clan Macintosh
88.   9 October 2013 :The Ancient Secrets of Glenlednock above Comrie – a look at this Highland glen in the 18th and 19th centuries
89.   28 October 2013 : Our lost heritage
90.   4 November 2013 : Heritage Restored - The Wild Beauty of Rannoch
91.   18 November 2013 :The Strathearn Village of Dunning and its fascinating heritage
92.   28 November 2013 : Crieff Shops and businesses 100 years ago ( names & places )
93.   15 December 2013 : Jacobites in Strathearn
94.   30 January 2014 :The Meaning of Many Local Place Names Around Crieff
95.   2 February 2014 : Strange Roman Apparitions in Strathearn
96.   5 February 2014 : Huntingtower Castle
97.   6 February 2014 : Cultoquhey - " at the back of a snowdrift "
98.   11 February 2014 :Drummond Arms Hotel Crieff And Our Neglected Heritage
99.   13 February 2014 :Two Years of Our PerthshireCrieffStrathearn Blog
100.                        16 February 2014 : Saint Fillan And His Cures For Sundry Ailments
101.                        20 February 2014 : Strathearn Perthshire Past and Present In Pictures
102.                        25 February 2014 :The Rev McAllister And A Religious "Punch Up" In Crieff
103.                        9 March 2014 : Pestilence and Arson in 17th Century Strathearn
104.                        28 March 2014 : The Poorhouse and Poverty in Crieff in the late Victorian Period
105.                        14 April 2014 : History of the Parishes of Monzievaird And Strowan
106.                        21 April 2014 : Daniel Robertson -a "Lad o' Pairts "** - the local ploughboy who became a millionaire
107.                        7 May 2014 : The Last Hanging In Crieff ; Kangaroo Court ?
108.                        11 May 2014 : The Strathearn Heritage of Prince William and Kate Middleton and more about Kinkell -the "Terrible Parish " !
109.                        11 May 2014 :New Blog Site For Perthshire Crieff and Strathearn Pictures Old and New
110.                        14 May 2014 : Ancient History and Heritage of Strathearn Begins to Be Recognised
111.                        1 June 2014 : Royal MacRosty : The Visit of William and Kate , Earl and Countess of Strathearn
112.                        9 June 2014:   A look into some interesting Crieff archives
113.                        11 July 2014 : The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART ONE
114.                        12 July 2014 : The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART TWO
115.                        22 July 2014 : The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART THREE
116.                        26 July 2014 : The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART FOUR
117.                        17August 2014 : Some Important Buildings of Strathearn
118.                        22 August 2014 : A Battle of Kings Fought On Our Doorstep
119.                        11 September  2014 : Pictish Strathearn and a lost or misplaced Kingdom !
120.                        21 September 2014 : Who Do We Think We Are ? Scots Brits or “Anglais” ?
THE 2014 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM AND  SOME OBSERVATIONS , HISTORICAL AND OTHERWISE
121.     6 October 2014 : Castle Cluggy and Loch Monzievaird
122.   20  October 2014 : Crieff's " Dad's Army - the Home Guard of World War 2
123.   17 November 2014  : Hogmanay & Handsel Monday - Two Time Honoured  Crieff Festivals
124.   03 December 2014 : Lady Mary's Walk
125.   14 December 2014 : The Coal Mines That Wouls Have Changed The Strath - A Fortunate Escape !
126.   31 December 2014 : The Earn- The Heron And A Precious Stone !
127.   01 Januuary 2015 : A Happy New Year Ftom Crieff And Strathearn !
128.   06 January 2015 : The Ancient Church of Strowan near Crieff
129.   09 January 2015 : Fowlis Castle - A Forgotten Part of Strathearn's Heritage .
130 .  13 January 2015 : A Walk Around Old Crieff In The Steps of the Drovers
131    29 January 2015 : Tullibardine Castle and the Pride of the Scottish Navy !
132.   20 February 2015 : The Railways of Strathearn .