ARCHIE AND NANCY 1
It is with great sadness that I write the preface to this booklet. Those of my family and many of our friends who have been privileged to read my wife Nancy’s booklet entitled “My Story” will know that she finishes her story by saying “This ends my story from my birth to my marriage, and if time permits Archie and I will begin to write “Our Story”. Time has not permitted this to happen, after eight long years of brave and uncomplaining battling against breast cancer, Nancy died on the morning of Sunday the 14th of March 2004, in the 85th year of her age. During her long retirement which began in December 1978, Nancy began to write some of her memoirs into a book and these notes are quite extensive, so much so that in tribute to a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother I intend to write “Our Story” using Nancy’s notes and hopefully my memory.
Nancy and I intended to marry in June 1942 but the governments new regulations concerning women over 18 and not married, made us bring forward our wedding day to the 20th of December 1941. we were fortunate that Nancy was employed in a plasterers office as Typist, book-keeper and wages clerk, and it was her boss who was in contact with various factors whose houses he serviced, who got us our first house at 87 Jamieson Street, Govanhill, a room and kitchen with a little skullery off the kitchen, and an inside toilet. We found this house in a very dirty condition so we stayed with my mother until we had it cleaned to our satisfaction. There was only gas in this house and as both of us wanted electricity we paid £26 to have a meter and lights installed in the kitchen, room and lobby, and later I installed a light in the skullery. To decorate this house was very difficult, as during the war there was no wallpaper available, so we were required to make do with using what today is called emulsion, daubing the basic colour on to the walls with a sponge, and then with a sponge soaked with a different colour of emulsion to create some kind of pattern. After spending all our spare time travelling to Jamieson Street every night and every weekend, we eventually moved into our new home in March 1942. My mother and father gave us a dining room suite as a wedding present, and we bought a walnut bedroom suite, while Charlie, our best man, bought us two easy chairs. There were no carpets in this house, only linoleum on the floors, a small rug lay in front of the fire-place and another in front of our bed. Again we were back to having only a cold water tap in the house, washing ourselves in a large zinc bath in front of the fire. When I stayed at my mother’s house when I would be about seventeen I persuaded a young stevedore who worked with my father and was an excellent carpenter, to build me a book-case which he did with excellent results. It was built in lovely mahogany wood, with two glass doors, one on either side of a writing desk fitted with all the dookets for holding letters and writing material, and below the writing desk was a cupboard to hold anything I wanted to keep safe. This writing bureau was the centre piece of our new kitchen for all the years we stayed in this house, and for many years the kitchen was the place where we planned our future, and enjoyed our present, The bureau has a place in both of our hearts. A short time after Nancy was employed by Alexander Calder & Co. her boss introduced her to his brother, who was Rector of Govan High School. Nancy tells how she thought he was quite a fellow, a jolly and enterprising man who bought houses, decorated and modernised them, and after staying in them for a few years, sold them at a considerable profit, and started the whole process all over again. This buying and selling of houses gave Mr. Calder a regular income, and we know that he lives in a luxurious house in the West end of Glasgow. Archie and I met his wife on a few occasions and I asked her if she enjoyed staying in the West end to which she replied that it would be fine if in two years we do not move again. It seems that while he enjoyed buying and selling houses Mrs Calder would rather have a permanent home. During the year or so that we stayed with Archie’s mother Mr. Calder gave me complementary tickets for the “Vouge” cinema in Govan, which meant that we could take a penny tram ride and enjoy a night at the pictures for two pence. Prior to and during the early years of my marriage to Nancy I received gifts of books from her, “The Modern Sinbad”, “The Songs of a Sourdough”, “Palgraves Golden Treasury” and Morton’s “Through the lands of the Bible” are a few of the titles I received. In Nancy’s book she says ”When we were not talking of an evening Archie would lift a book and soon be engrossed in its contents, and throughout my life with him he has always been an avid reader of poetry, the history of Glasgow and Scotland and various other subjects. We both remember with a certain joy the visits of our nieces, Pat and Gillian Smith to our house in Jamieson Street, and sometimes they would go home just after tea-time, and on an odd occasion would sleep over for the week-end. On these nights Nancy would get out our air-bed and two sleeping bags, putting them on the kitchen floor as a bed for the girls, and as our nieces were quite young they both enjoyed sweeties, and as I had a friend who owed me a few debts and had access to sweets, we were able to give the girls a few sweets at a time, making Nancy their favourite aunt. I was working for Kelvin Bottemley and Baird in Hillington estate, Glasgow, when I had a return visit from an ailment that had given me trouble over many years. My gums had gone soft and I was eventually forced to go to a dentist in Govanhill. After poking about my mouth for some time, he told me that the best thing for me to do was to have all my teeth removed. I was shocked by this news and Nancy and I discussed the consequences of following this course, the time off work and the loss of wages, the cost of the extractions and the false teeth, and a host of other problems that taking the dentist’s advice would bring. However the result of our discussions was that we would go ahead with the extractions and one Saturday morning two, tall, hefty men arrived at our door, one was the dentist who examined me at his surgery, and the other was the anaesthetist. Nancy was asked to let them have a sheet and a pillow, which were laid on the kitchen table, and she was then asked to retire to the room until the operation was finished. I was then told to lie on the sheet with my neck on the pillow and I watched the anaesthetist pour some chloroform on to a pad and put it over my face, and then he told me to count from ten to zero. I remember getting to five before I blanked out, and the next thing I knew I was lying on my bed in the room, with Nancy sitting watching me struggling to come awake. Both of the men had gone and Nancy told me that she had listened to my teeth hitting the kitchen wall and me making unintelligible murmurings. She also told me that the dentist asked her if I spoke Arabic and when Nancy said no he said that while I was unconscious I was speaking a foreign language. The only explanation I could think of was that I had been attending an Esperanto class with the hope of speaking that language, which I never succeeded in doing. My poor wife had the horrible job of lifting my teeth from off the kitchen floor and later on I daubed the blood stains on the walls with fresh emulsion to make the place presentable. Another calamity to hit us happened one night when we were out at the Empire theatre and came home shortly after eleven o’clock. We had a bit of supper and went to bed and were just about falling asleep when our door was chapped upon in a very loud manner. I got out of bed and without opening the door I asked who was there and got the answer –The Police. I lifted the letter box and looked through to see the Police uniform, so I slowly opened the door and asked why they were there. They informed me that we had left a light on in the kitchenette and they had orders to put it out, which they did by using the door key which our neighbour had, and switching the light off. I said to them that as I was the house-holder then I would be to blame, but they insisted that the house-wife was in charge and she would be charged. The result of this was that Nancy was charged with leaving an un-covered light on, which contravened the “Blackout Laws” and was fined £1. In Nancy’s book we find this story. In the run up to the New Year of 1942 Archie and I decided to have a night at one of the hostels, and we chose Ardbeg hostel just along from Aberfoyle. We arrived at the hostel late Friday afternoon and found the hostel already busy with some strangers, but mostly friends of Archie and I. After tea-time we went for a walk along the loch side, and when we came back to the hostel a party had already begun. At this time I knew that Archie wrote and recited poetry, but this night was the first night that I heard him recite “Dangerous Dan Mc Grew” by R.W. Service and over the many years of hiking with Archie I was to hear Service’s “The Cremation of Sam Mc Gee” and many other poems by Burns. On the Saturday morning we awoke to a glorious sunshiny day so we decided to make our way back to Aberfoyle and go over “The Duke’s Pass” to loch Katrine. This proved to be rather a long walk, and Nancy throughout many years has told the story of how she got quite tired about half-way up the pass, and she asked me how far we still had to go, to which I replied “Just round the next corner” . For those who do not know this road it twists and turns up the mountain from Aberfoyle to Loch Achray and Loch Katrine. In the many years following this incident, whenever Nancy or I had a difficult task to perform, we would both conclude that the solution lay just around the next corner. We eventually arrived at the little stream that runs between Loch Katrine and Loch Achray, and after making camp we made some tea, and after we had eaten and cleaned up we walked a wee bit along Achray’s shore, before returning to the tent and lying down to a well earned sleep. Normally we would waken after six or seven hours sleep, but when I awoke the next morning it was still pitch black, so I went back to sleep. Some time later I again woke up, and this time I sat up and opened the tent laces , to find that the tent was under a beautiful blanket of snow. Nancy was awake at this time so I attempted as well as I could to clear the snow from around the tent entrance, and Nancy and I were delighted by one of the most breath-taking scenes that could ever be imagined. Virgin snow lay feet deep all along the area that our eyes could take in, and we both agreed that we would make breakfast, and when we had eaten and cleaned up we were going out to that snowy wilderness to enjoy this magnificent scene. We did this and dressed for the occasion we made our way towards where the Trassachs Hotel lies, and some of the Hotels guests must have thought like us and were out to enjoy themselves. I cannot remember who started the snow fight but we all participated with pleasure in throwing snow-balls at each other for a considerable time. After the snow fight we walked along the road to Loch Katrine and Nancy went up to one of the cliffs and pulled down an icicle which was six inches at the top and tapered to a point, being at least four feet long. Nancy closes her story by saying that that weekend will forever stay in her me. It was in our house in Jamieson street, that Nancy suffered a severe loss. When we were married in December 1941 it was nearly impossible to purchase a wedding ring. Every Saturday we would trail into the City to visit all the jewellers shops we could find, asking if they had a wedding ring for sale and always got the same answer, “There’s a war on “ One Saturday, not long before the 20th of December, we got lucky in a jewellers shop in Eglinton Street and we purchased our wedding ring. About the beginning of February 1943 when we were both preparing to sit down to tea, Nancy asked me if I had seen her rings, and I told her that other than seeing them on her finger I never really paid any attention to them. Nancy told me that she always took her rings off her finger when she was washing dishes or making or clearing a fire, because the gold wedding ring and the three stone diamond ring were slack on her finger, and she had looked everywhere she could think of, but had not yet found the rings. We both hunted the house for days without success and after about a fortnight we decided that they were gone for good. As money was not so easily got we were forced to have Nancy’s finger with no rings on it, until she got a loan of her mothers wedding ring, which her brother Peter had, and she wore this ring for a few years. During the time that we stayed with my mother in Paisley Road West Nancy acquired some of my mother’s habits. One of those habits that she took from my mother was to drink a half pint of warm water first thing in the morning, and like my mother Nancy was never constipated and throughout her life had a lovely clear skin. The other thing that she copied from mother was to give me breakfast in bed every morning. Ever since I can remember my brothers and sisters were given breakfast in bed, and when Nancy started to stay over at our house before we were married my mother would waken her with a tray with a glass of warm orange juice and a bowl of porridge. During our Marriage I was very fortunate to have this service continue until about 1945 when we both felt that I should get up and dine with Nancy at the table. During my almost two years in Kelvin Bottemley and Baird I was originally working on the bench fitting various instruments, but in one of the blocks that we worked in named block 40 b, a machine setter fell very ill and was going to be off work for a very long time, and as the firm knew that I had experience at machine fitting I was asked if I would fill in temporary, and this I agreed to do. I was not long in this job when a lengthy poem was posted on the notice board, which was a satire on the foreman, Robert Aitken. Some of my workmates thought it was me who wrote it, as on an odd occasion I would scribble something jocular down and hand it round, but this time it was not me. As the block we worked in was block 40b, the title of the poem was “Ali Bob and his 40 B’s” . It was well known or imagined in and around our factory that at the full moon Bob Aitken would act in a very peculiar manner, shutting himself off from the rest of us and generally acting strange. This poem portrayed him at full moon time and was very cleverly put together. Throughout my stay in this block poems of “Ali Bob and his 40 Bees “ continued to appear and were a source of enjoyment to everyone except Bob Aitken, but I can assure anyone who still suspects me as the author, I am not guilty. Nancy and I spent many nights in the house, and she would sometimes talk of her family and things that she remembered from her younger days. One story that I thought was worthy of recording was her story of her Uncle Tom. He married a girl named Mary Angus and they had two daughters named Jenny and Maisie. This marriage was a total failure and a short time after Maisie’s birth the parents separated. Jenny was brought up by her mother and her grand-parents, while Maisie was brought up in her father’s house and was raised by her Aunt Sarah, who was the house-keeper. Although the two girls were brought up in close proximity of one another, Nancy was led to believe that it was not until they were both in there teens before that they knew they were sisters . Jenny married and became Mrs. Wishart. Maisie and a young man named Robin Hood, who was studying to be a school teacher courted for a few years but as Maisie saw no signs of them ever being married she broke off the relationship. She started work in a new job as a typist with the Snodgrass Washington Flour Mill in Glasgow, and eventually became Secretary to her boss, Harry Snodgrass. Over a period of time they started to go out together, and in 1933 they were married. This marriage was a great change in Maisie’s life-style, she was now living as a high society hostess, in a large house in Dowanhill, with a cook and a maid to serve her. Sadie, Anne and Nancy were invited to her house for a meal, and this was the first time in Nancy’s life that she sat down to a meal with a maid to serve the meal from a large platter. After the meal they retired to the lounge for tea or coffee and cakes, served from a three tiered cake-stand. Nancy says that this was a wonderful visit and my sisters and I will remember it for a long time. As Maisie returns to Nancy’s story again and again I feel that I should try to finish this part of Nancy’s memoirs now. Maisie did not, like so many others who begin a new life of wealth forget her beginnings. Throughout her short life she would visit Nancy or one of Nancy’s sisters, and in the event that there were children, Maisie would have a gift for them, and at Christmas time each child would receive a gift. In 1955 Sadie, Nancy’s sister, had a bad stroke and lay for some time on the floor before she was found, and when Maisie heard this news she immediately bought and delivered an electric blanket to prevent Sadie being burned by a hot water bottle, as she had no feelings in her body. Maisie’s husband, Harry, suffered an attack of appendicitis at the time of Sadie’s shock and was taken into a private nursing home for an operation, which unfortunately was unsuccessful and Harry died. On the 9th of February Sadie died and both Harry and Sadie were buried within the same week. I only had the pleasure of meeting Harry when he and Maisie came to visit us at our single end in Keppochill Road, and in conversation he asked if we enjoyed living in a “Flat”. In Nancy’s notes she tells how just after we moved into our house at 22 Bucklaw Terrace, she was visiting her Sister Anne and Maisie was also visiting. When they were leaving they both got the same bus, and Maisie promised Nancy that she would come to visit just after Christmas, so Nancy waited till after the first anniversary of Harry’s death. Nancy says “I can remember on 17th of March I was brushing the living room floor and I suddenly stopped and said to Morag, “We will phone your aunt Maisie and ask her to visit us. I made the phone call and the person who answered the call asked who I was and I said if you tell Maisie that it is cousin Nancy to which Jenny, Maisie’s sister said, “Maisie died yesterday”. As the next of kin it was she who was making the funeral arrangements and both Anne and Nancy attended the funeral. Nancy asks if she had a premonition which prompted her to make that phone call. Nancy does not say any more in her notes concerning Maisie, but although I cannot give accurate dates there was not a long time before we were informed that Maisie had gone into a hospital for an internal examination and her lower body was found to be riddled with cancer, and in a short time Maisie died. When I started work at Prestwick Airport I was billited in a large mansion named “Gayton”, which the authorities took over to house essential workers. Nancy knew of this mansion as Maisie told her that that it was her country home. In the 1990’s Nancy and I were at a Burns function in Ayr, and I took Nancy to Prestwick and showed her “Gayton”. I asked Nancy if she wanted to find out if it was still owned by her cousin Jenny, but Nancy did not want to know. There are so many stories that Nancy related to me during our stay in Govanhill, and I was astounded to hear her speak of her father and to a slightly lesser extent about her mother in terms of love and endearment. Her father was the centrepiece of the family in Nancy’s eyes, it was he who got them ready for bed and told them their bedtime stories, and Nancy does not ever remember him losing his temper, or spanking them. I found myself quite inadequate in these talks because the only stories I could tell were stories of the countryside, or my work, but seldom of my family as my parents gave everything to my sister Betty, ignoring the other four members of the family and their off-spring. Just after we moved into our house in Jamieson street we were visiting the family at Broomknowes Road and were asked to stay over for that night. We were fast asleep about half past twelve when we were awakened by the air raid siren warning us that there were German bombers approaching our area and everyone should have immediately made for the bomb shelter which was situated on the other side of the street. This was the first time that I got to know that while Peter, Sadie and the other sisters hurried to the shelter, Nancy stayed in bed. I made a flask of tea and got some biscuits over to the shelter, telling Nancy to get up as I could hear the bombers going over our heads. She was eventually persuaded to come to the shelter and we watched as the wood yard of Singer’s sewing machine factory was set alight, and Clydebank being bombed with little or no retaliation. It seems that any anti-aircraft guns that could have protected us were all trying to protect London and the South-East of England. That night Clydebank was devastated and the distilleries in Greenock and the Tate & Lyle sugar refinery were severely damaged, and we could see from our high position in Balornock the lights of fires running down the streets of Greenock. Govanhill is situated on the South side of the River Clyde and as the crow flies not too far from what Glaswegians know as Dixon’s blazes. These were at that time a massive complex of iron furnaces, and when the furnace doors were opened at night the whole area was a blaze of red light. There was another rather frightening happening one night when Nancy and I were getting ready for bed and the siren went off. I started to re-dress and said to Nancy that she would be better to come to the shelter than be caught three stories high up in the tenement. Here again Nancy refused to do this even though she could hear the droning of the German aircraft, so I said that if she was not going down to the shelter then I was. Just then we clearly heard the whine of a bomb which must have just cleared our roof by feet, and the next thing we knew was the horrible explosion of that bomb which destroyed a Rennie McIntosh church in the next street. The bomb was intended to hit Dixon’s blazes and luckily it did not hit the furnaces, and we heard later that no one was killed. Nancy speedily got dressed and stayed in the shelter till the raid was over. When Italy entered the war on the side of Germany we were still living at my mother’s house. Our family were friendly with the Italian owners of the cafe’ next to our close. Mr and Mrs Marcella had two sons who were in the British army, as were many other Italians who had lived in Scotland over many years. However there are always the hooligans who are looking for an excuse to create problems, and on a late afternoon I was looking out of our room window when I saw a young Italian that I knew being chased across the road towards our close. I opened our door and went out on to the landing and when the very frightened boy came to the landing I told him to go into our house and I quietly closed the door. When my mother came in she gave him some tea and I went over to his house and told his folks that he was safe with us and that when the crowd broke up I would bring him over. It would be about this time that I read that Scottish Aviation Ltd. of Prestwick Aerodrome were seeking electricians and Instrument makers, so Nancy and I talked about whether I should apply or just stay where I was in Kelvin Bottemley & Baird. We talked about how happy we were in our house and Nancy said that she would be reluctant to give it up until she knew that a better house was available. Over the next three or four days we talked to one another about the Prestwick job and we came to the conclusion that I should apply and see what was on offer. I sent for an application form and a week later a form came to our house and Nancy and I had a good look to see what it said, and we then made up our minds that I shoud fill it in and see what occurred. Another slight delay and another letter from Prestwick asking me to come to the Central Hotel at Glasgow’s Central Station where I would be interviewed for the job. Here was the time for some deep thinking, we were both happy with the present situation, when I came home from work we would have dinner and then, perhaps twice a week we would go to the cinema or a theatre or sit in the house listening to the radio, and at the weekends when I was not working we could go out to the countryside. If I took the job at Prestwick I would be in lodgings and Nancy would be living alone except when I came home at the weekends, and we would lose all those lovely experiences and the pleasure of each others company. We discussed all these things and we thought that if I was living in Prestwick perhaps we could get a house in that town, which would be a wonderful place to bring up a future family. The outcome of our discussions was that if I was accepted for the job, and the wages were such that we were better off than we were at present, then we would take our chances and accept. So it was that towards the end of June 1943, on a Sunday night, I said goodbye to Nancy and joined a bus going to Ayr to begin working for Scottish Aviation Ltd. I was billeted in “Gayton” ( a mansion house on the sea front taken over by the government to house essential workers). It was here that I met a man named Jock Neish, who was to become a close friend of Nancy and I for many years. In the room that I was allocated I found that my neighbour in the next bed was Jock, and as the bedroom had six beds in it he was the first man that I had conversation with. I was lucky to meet Jock because he had worked in the aerodrome for some time and knew his way about, and he was only too pleased to pass on his knowledge to me. On that first morning the newcomers were taken to a room in what was known as “The Palace” and I was later to be told that this was the Palace of Engineering at the Empire exhibition in Bellahouston Park at Ibrox in 1938. At this meeting I was told that I was to be stationed at dispersal hanger No. 6 and sometime later a van came to pick the new workers up and take them to their new place of work. I was more than pleased when I found that Jock was working in this hanger, and that I had been allocated to work with him. The work that I was doing at this time was hardly what I would have called a skilled job, and it took me some days and maybe weeks to realise that these jobs were essential to the war effort, and as I was newcomer I felt it was better to just get on with the job, and say little. The hanger was one of three from which aircraft which were being flown across the Atlantic were worked upon. I worked in the first instance in dispersal No. 6 and the other two hangers were 4 & 5. The job that Jock and I were doing was to remove all the un-necessary equipment that (in the opinion of the R.A.F.) was surplus to requirements, such as a 3/8th of an inch thick sheet of steel which protected the pilots back should some bullets be coming their way, the many oxygen tanks which were secured to the roof behind the bomb-bay, these and many other pieces were removed so that their weight could be replaced by more bombs. These hangers were massive places, and two Liberator bombers could be standing nose to tail and there would still be plenty of room for other smaller planes. I did this type of work for a few months until I was asked to go to the office, and the hanger manager asked me how I was getting on, to which I replied that I was enjoying my job and learning new things every day. He said that he had been looking at my papers and saw that most of my previous work had been on instruments and he was wondering how I felt about working with aircraft instruments. I told him that the instruments that I worked on were mostly for the Royal Navy, to which he said that I would be supervised for the first few weeks. This opened a new line of work for me, my supervisor turned out to be an Ayrshire man, and he and I got on very well. I was very soon instructed how to remove the instruments from the aircraft’s dash board and transport them to the Palace, where there was a room in which these instruments were re-calibrated to the standards set by the British Aviation Authorities, and then they were re-fitted to the aircraft from which they had been taken. This then became my job, and although I had been working on instruments on and off all of my life, this was a completely new experience. The lads that I worked with were very helpful and shortly I was one of the group, and the only thing that I missed was the companionship of Jock during the day. Sometime in the summer of 1943 I was working in the Instrument room in the morning, and was calibrating some instruments when I heard the tea-lady say,” What do you want for breakfast, Archie”. I turned my head to the right and found myself lying on the floor in agony. The tea-ladies trolley had a shelf which was just at my eye level, and when I turned to answer the tea-lady I accidentally hit my eye on the edge of this shelf, and the pain really knocked me out. I was taken to Ayr Hospital where the eye was cleaned and I was told to go home and attend my local eye infirmary. On this same day Nancy was visiting my mother, and mother told her that a visit to a “Spay-wife” had been arranged, and if Nancy had no objections she could come along and join the fun. Sometime after lunch the group of women made their way to the place where the lady whose skills included reading palms, reading the meanings of the tea leaf dregs left in the tea-cup, and lastly foretelling the future was meeting them. After the group were introduced to the Spay wife they all sat round the table to enjoy a cup of tea and some biscuits. Nancy was the youngest of the group, and while mother and most of the others had participated in these afternoon meetings before, this was a new and strange experience for Nancy. After about an hour Nancy was asked to come to the table and sit beside the Spay-wife who took her hand and started to read the meanings of what she saw. The first thing she said was that Nancy was happily married and that her husband worked away from home, but she had some bad news for her, for at this moment, she said, your husband is on his way home because he has been injured at his work. The clairvoyant then went on to say that her husband knew she was visiting his mother, and that she was to stay at his mother’s till he came. When the meeting broke up mother and Nancy made their way to mother’s house, and an hour after they arrived I came to the door with a large bandage round my head covering my right eye. I explained what had happened and assured Nancy that there was no real damage done to my eye, but I was to attend the eye infirmary and they would decide when I would return to work. I was off work for two weeks and as there was not a lot of pain we were able to get about and enjoy our unexpected time together. Both Nancy and I have experienced incidents where we knew that we had never been in a certain place before, yet we were able to tell of the things that lay behind a closed door, and when that door was opened we were right. Although we both have reservations regarding the telling of the future, neither Nancy or I will ever scoff at other at other folks experiences with a “Spay-wife”. Working in Prestwick aerodrome was an exciting experience, there were so many things happening that to tell the story of them all would take a large volume in itself. One or two incidents are worth recording, as Jock and I witnessed them happening, and the Ayrshire press told the stories at a later time. One night Jock and I were working on a Liberator in dispersal hanger No. 6 when we heard an aircraft zooming over the runway. This would not have raised any curiosity except that the aircraft was not attempting to land, so Jock and I got into the cockpit of the Liberator we were working on and put on earphones to listen to the control tower talking to what turned out to be a Flying Fortress. We heard the pilot telling the control tower that he could not get his landing gear to lower, and the control tower telling the pilot how to loosen certain bolts and other equipment and jettison the gun carriage, that was on the belly of the aircraft, either in the sea or on the grass at the side of the runway. This would be about 3.a.m.and we were both anxious to see the aircraft safely landed, but it was nearly 7.00 a.m. before the climax of this incident finalised . A squad of men had meanwhile been placing drums of burning oil on the grass at the side of the main runway, leaving some thirty feet between the drums. The pilot brought the aircraft in from the sea and flying about twenty feet above the grass jettisoned the gun carriage, which when it stopped rolling was immediately taken off the site. We then heard the control tower asking the pilot how much fuel he was carrying and whatever the answer was it must have suited the folks in the control tower, because the pilot was instructed to attempt a belly landing on the grass. Again the pilot brought the fortress in from the sea and again, flying low, he belly landed his aircraft between the oil-drums, the four propellers were twisted and turned beyond recognition, but the aircraft slowly drew to a halt, and doors were thrown open and pilot and crew were safely on mother earth. Everyone on the field that night roared themselves hoarse cheering the pilot for his skill, and the eight or nine crew were not slow in showing their appreciation by hugging and kissing him for saving their lives. The other story that I will tell happened one night when we were working late and it was really pelting with rain. The whole airfield was dark and dreary and those who could, worked in the shelter of the hanger. About seven o’clock we heard an aircraft flying over the airfield, and we all peeped out to see what was happening. We were not long in recognising that it was a Liberator and she was in trouble, the pelting rain would be making it almost impossible for the pilot to see where he was in relation to the ground, and although the runway lights were all on, the aircraft was difficult to land. The pilot took the aircraft out over the sea in order to start another landing attempt, and we watched as it came over the runway and heard the engines being accelerated as the pilot decided to abort the landing. The next attempt was the fatal one, the pilot again approached from the sea, and was almost on the ground when he must have realised that he was too far up the runway and again he accelerated the engines, This time the engines were too far down in power and when the pilot attempted to get the aircraft to lift, it refused to do so. The result was that the Liberator rose about a hundred feet, and crash landed on a row of houses in Burnbank, a small village which lay alongside the airfield. The crew and many villagers died that night, among whom were many of our friends who were sleeping, and one of these friends was the local Provost’s son. During the many nights that we spent in our kitchen cum living room, cum lounge, Nancy often spoke of her father, When I first met her in 1940, both of her parents were dead, her mother having died in March 1940, just a month before I met her, and her father was killed in an accident in 1936. It is only through experience that a man or woman learns that there are many ways of grieving. And while Nancy was heart-broken by the loss of her mother, it was her father who was continually mentioned in her conversation. I have often heard Nancy say that her father was still alive so long as she and her sisters and brother kept talking about the things he said or did, and I believe that Nancy was correct in these thoughts. In this year we tried to get out into the countryside as often as possible, and too often it was the lack of finances that stopped us. In those weekends prior to our marriage I just got my Bergan packed with some food and perhaps a shilling in my pocket, and made my way over the Glober golf course to Craigallion and so on to Loch Lomond, where, Summer, Winter, Autumn or Spring, I would find beauty for my eyes and music for my ears, with the myriad and varied scenes and sounds of rumbling and tumbling water. One Friday Nancy and I decided to pack our Bergans and get a tram-car to Milngavie and making our way to Carbeth we finally arrived at Balmaha with a very tired Nancy. We made our way up the Rowerdenan road, past Milarachy bay, and finding a nice spot on the Loch-side, we lit our primus stove and enjoyed a nice meal of sausages and potatoes. After a good nights sleep we walked up the side of the Loch and spent a very pleasant day watching the few deer we could see, or just enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the scenes. On the Sunday when we awoke it was a very pleasant sight that greeted us, the sun was reasonably warm and the ground was dry beneath our feet. We decided not to walk on the road but to climb up the hill a little bit and make our way back to Balmaha over the Conic hills. This proved to be a great idea and one that I had never done before, new scenes, new views, new experiences to add to a memory already full of wonderful images. We were approaching that place on the Conics where the hill slopes down towards Balmaha and I would be about twenty feet in front of Nancy, when I shouted to her to dig her heels into the ground at each step as I felt that this hill was a wee bit dangerous. The next thing I heard was “Archie, Archie, stop me I cannot stop”. I quickly turned round to see Nancy, with a heavy Bergan pack on her back hurtling towards me. I immediately threw myself at her legs and of course she landed on top of my Bergan, and only God knows how both of us came out of this debacle without a scratch. I have told the story of how shortly after we were married I had the problem of my teeth being removed. We were not long settled in the house and cash was very scarce, but Nancy and I, all of our lives have lived by the code that if you could not pay for something, then you waited until you could before you got it, and if it was necessary to borrow, then your first priority was to pay back what you had borrowed. We were fortunate at that time to have Nancy owning a £25 bond with Glasgow Corporation which she received as compensation at the time of her father’s death in 1936, and this money sustained us and more, during the time I was off work with no pay. In 1937, when my brother Paul got married, the bedroom he shared with Charlie and me was now the sole preserve of us two brothers. In this bedroom I had my bureau bookcase, in which I had already stored some books. At this time I would go to the Gallowgate in Glasgow to visit “The Barrows” on a Saturday afternoon, and it was here that I met a stall-holder named Sarah Fleming who sold books and bric-a-brac, and over a period of time she and I became friendly enough that she knew that I had an interest in Burns, Scottish and Glasgow history, and if she obtained a book she thought I would be interested in, she would keep it for me even if some weeks passed without me seeing her. Sarah will enter “Our Story” at a later time. My brother Charlie, as far as I can remember, never read a book in his life and he often called me a bookworm or as he thought some other derogatory name because I carried a book with me at most times, and took every opportunity to read it. I often tried to get Charlie to take an interest in some of my favourite subjects, but although he was average at school and was clever in the Life Boys and the Boys Brigade I never could induce him to read a book, even when I would leave a novel by “Upton Sinclair” or “Jack London” or Edgar Rice Burrows” lying around our room. It would be about August 1943 on a Saturday afternoon that Charlie came to visit us at Jamieson street, and Nancy poured out a cup of tea with some biscuits for the three of us. We sat exchanging views on the war and other subjects and during a lull in the conversation Charlie asked me if I could help him to understand why he so often felt left out of some of the conversations with his workmates. I asked him if he could give me an example of this exclusion, and he said that at dinner time when they were all gathered round a square of pallets to drink their tea, and have a blether about anything that was going on, he felt able to take part, but one day they were talking about one of their mates who was a bit slow in the uptake, and after a few crude remarks about him one of the group said—he is a Peter Pan. Everybody present immediately burst into laughter, except Charlie, and once again he felt he was the odd man out. I told Charlie the tale of the little boy who never grew up, and he said that he had never heard of that story, but he now knew why his mates had laughed. I reminded my younger brother that when we were living in Paisley Road West my bookcase had many different stories in it, and one of these stories was “Peter Pan”. During the time that I worked at Prestwick aerodrome Jock Neish and I became very close friends, both at work and in the evenings when we were not working. I slowly heard from Jock that he had two sons and a very poor married life. We were both living in the same digs, and while I took every opportunity to come home to Nancy, Jock seemed content to go to the Post Office on Friday night and send off a postal order to his wife, and either working the week-end or just pottering about in Prestwick or Ayr. I now knew that he lived in a cottage on the canal bank at Bainsford, and one Saturday he took me to meet his wife and children there, which with hindsight I wish that I had never done. She was the most obnoxious woman that I ever met, always trying to denigrate her husband, and generally not making any visitor feel welcome. When I told Nancy this story she suggested that I invite Jock to visit us on an odd week-end and when I suggested this to Jock he was delighted, even though I told him that his bed would be a sleeping bag on an air-bed. We arrived one Friday night at Jamieson Street and I introduced Jock to Nancy and he said “Hello Wifey”, and Nancy over the time of our friendship was never called Nancy by Jock, always “Wifey”. On these weekends when Jock visited us we all enjoyed each others company and Jock said that these were the best years of his life. It was during that period of the war when everything was rationed, only a meagre amount of food was allocated to each person, everything was bought with coupons, and I sometimes wondered how my very efficient wife managed to feed herself and still be able to feed Jock and me on these weekends. I had to give my food coupons to my landlady, so Nancy only had her own. One Friday night I arrived home for the weekend and on the Saturday morning I watched Nancy preparing the meal for our dinner. Came one-o’clock and Nancy produces this wonderful pie from the oven. It smelled and looked gorgeous, and we both sat down to enjoy our meal. After dinner we were going into Glasgow City centre, and I remarked to Nancy how much I had enjoyed her lovely dinner, and wondered how she managed to get the meat for the pie. Nancy said that she had gone to the butcher’s and he had sold her a Rabbit, and that was what we had for dinner. I immediately rushed to the toilet and emptied my stomach into the pan, I apologised to Nancy telling her that I knew that my nausea was all in my mind, but I had always looked upon Rabbit as vermin and had never eaten it before now. It was then that I told Nancy about my mother serving us with pigeon soup and meat, and we ate it without a thought. Each year in the princes dock where my father worked, there was a cull of thousands of pigeons who bred in the dock warehouses, and the dockers were able to take home as many of the dead birds as they wanted, and as I said to Nancy that if mother had put down a meal of Rabbit to me, I would probably have eaten and enjoyed it. At the end of 1943 my brother Paul spoke to me about the Freemasons, which he had joined in that year. I knew that my father and my grandfather, most of my many uncles and my brother Charlie were all members, but I had never really thought about joining. I spoke to Nancy about what Paul had said to me and asked her what she thought I should do. Nancy said that she knew very little about the Freemasons but her father would not join them although his brother was the Master of Lodge ”Kenmuir” in Springburn. We discussed this subject for a week or so and came to the conclusion that if my relatives “Tommy Balantine” ,”Stephen Milton”, and so many of our friends were all members, and these were men we both admired, then perhaps it would be a good organisation to belong to. In the month of February 1944 I joined Lodge St Clair, No 362, at No. 100 West Regent Street, Glasgow, and in the year of 1994 I received my 50 year certificate. I attended the Lodge meetings as often as possible and was more than surprised one Saturday morning when Nancy said that we were going into Saint Enoch’s Square to purchase a Masonic Apron, which she had costed and saved for as a present to me. That apron has been in many parts of this world and is treasured by me. It did not take long to get to know that there were many of my workmates in the Craft, and I was invited to attend the Lodges at Prestwick, Ayr, and Tarbolton. The name of the Master at Tarbolton at that time was George Wilson and many years later he was to be guide to “The Glasgow Masonic Burns Club, on a tour of the Burns country, when I was President. I found that in a very short time in the instrument room at Prestwick airport I became quite competent in the tasks that I was set. My experiences in Barr & Stroud stood me in good stead, so much so that that I was asked to see the manager of the hanger who informed me that the airport required two instrument makers who had a licence for the repair and calibration of aircraft instruments. This licence allowed the holder to sign papers stating that the instruments under discussion had been properly repaired and calibrated, and were fit for use in the aircraft they were allocated to. The manager asked me if I would sit the examination for this licence as both my foreman and the electrical inspector in the instrument room thought I was worthy of getting this licence and would both give me a reference. I never made a big decision before I spoke to Nancy and as we thought that the war was approaching an end, we both wondered if this move was worth while, as I would not be staying at Scottish Aviation when the war was over. I received the references from my foreman and the electrical inspector but something happened that changed all our plans. I cannot recall what month it was that Sadie received a letter from Mary asking if she could bring Iain and Sally to Glasgow to get the children away from the constant sound of bombs dropping day and night. Sally was the most disturbed, becoming hysterical at times and the doctor advised Mary that unless Sally was taken away from London for a while she would have a nervous break-down. Nancy and I had our own house in Jamieson Street, but at Sadie’s house the government had billeted two airmen, Taffy Jenkins and Clifford Hezeltine, an Englishman and a Welshman who soon became members of the family. Sadie, being a Russell, told Mary to come to Glasgow as soon as possible and any difficulties would be sorted out when she arrived. Throughout 1944 Mary and the children stayed at Sadie’s house and everything was seemingly all right, until just before Christmas Mary’s husband, Bert Anderson appeared without any warning, and we in the family and Mary herself took it that he had travelled up to bring presents for Mary and the children. How wrong we all were!!! He did not speak to anyone but Mary, and the present he brought was the news that he had met a woman in his London office, and they were in the process of setting up home together. Mary and all the family were shattered, none of us could ever have imagined that something like this could happen, Mary so often said that she loved Bert, and to Nancy and the rest of the family Mary was a one man lady. Bert Anderson was the father of her children and she wanted no other man in her life. When Bert Anderson returned to London that night he left behind a wife and two children who were completely destroyed by the events opening before them, and although nothing would destroy Mary’s love for Bert, there was the horrible fact that she was being left with two young children to bring up, and no obvious way of paying her way. Mary could not return to London until the war was nearly over, and when she eventually did she attempted to piece her broken marriage together, and over many years, and until the day that Mary died, she still loved Bert Anderson. I recall one incident that happened at this time, that could have been more serious than it turned out to be. Nancy was visiting the family home at 61 Broomknowes Road and I was told to come straight from my work for my dinner, and as I entered the front door I heard a loud breaking of glass. In the hall I found that my Nieces Pat and Gillian were visiting and as children do were running after one another along the lobby. Iain was in front and was being chased when he came to the bathroom glass door and to save himself from falling he put his hand up and broke the glass of the door, and tore a gash along the palm of his hand. I quickly got a clean dish towel to stem the bleeding and rushed him to Stobhill Hospital which was local, only to find that they did not do stitching there, and I was directed to the Royal Infirmary where Iain had his hand stitched up, and over the next few weeks he made a grand recovery. Nancy’s brother Peter would be about 14 years old the year that I met Nancy and as I was going hiking for a week in Argyll I suggested to Sadie that Peter should come with me and enjoy a week in the countryside. This was agreed so Peter used Nancy’s Bergan rucksack and other gear and we both set out for Argyll. We took the paddle steamer to Dunoon and made our way to Loch Eck, where we slept for that first night. We both loved scenery as we walked through Puck’s Glen and over the mountains to Strachur, then down to the Falloch and Loch Lomond, and so to Balloch and home. Peter spoke of this holiday many times during his lifetime, and I thoroughly enjoyed Peter’s company during that week. One night Jock Neish and I were working nightshift when a six seater private plane came in for fuel. The pilot spoke to us about our jobs and we later asked him where he was heading for, to which he answered –not too far---Renfrew Airport. I told him that I lived near there and would be going there in a couple of hours. To my surprise he said that if I wanted a lift he would take me to Renfrew. I hurried to see my foreman and he said that as I would be finishing in a few hours, then O. K. take the lift. I duly arrived at Renfrew and caught an all night tram car to Govanhill and about five-thirty I opened our front door . My dress was an overcoat which reached below my knees and an Anthony Eden hat, and when I entered our bedroom Nancy was facing the window fast asleep, until I switched the light on and she woke, turned round and saw this man standing at her bed dressed as I was. Nancy gasped with fright and burst into tears and I was shocked by my stupidity in not knocking the door or giving Nancy some kind of warning that I was at the door. However after a little while we were sitting on our bed and I told Nancy how I had got a lift to Renfrew and got home early as a result. I made a pot of tea and some toast and within an hour we were both fast asleep. Next morning I got out of bed to start making some breakfast, when I heard Nancy shouting on me, and when I went back to the bedroom I saw right away that the left hand side of her face was a mass of red blotches. When she took of her night dress her left breast and down to the top of her thigh had the same red blotches. After Nancy washed herself down with hot water we decided to go to the doctor as soon as possible, and before noon that Saturday morning the doctor had painted the effected area with “Gentian Blue” an ointment that was used during the war as a cure for every ailment. The next Saturday I came home to find Nancy no better, no pain, but this horrible unsightly blotching on her face and body. The doctor was giving her more of the same treatment with no good results, and when I was speaking to my friend George Fowler’s father that afternoon he suggested that I take Nancy to the Homoeopathic doctor in Oswald Street, who had treated and cured his wife when other doctors had failed. It was too late that Saturday for us to go to this Homoeopathic doctor so we decided that I would take Monday off work, and we would both see him on Monday morning. We duly arrived at the office of this doctor to find that he was an old man sitting behind a desk littered with bits of everything ever used by a witch doctor, and after he had looked at Nancy’s face he started to ask her some questions. Had she suffered poisoning recently? What kind of soap did she use? Did she know of any allergies which might be the cause of this discolouring of her skin?. He then opened a colossal tomb of a book which was lying on his desk, and after what must have been a half hour he looked up and asked “ Have you had a bad fright recently”. Nancy’s first reaction was to say no, but after a little silence I suggested that she tell the gentleman about me coming home about a fortnight ago, and her bursting into tears. Nancy related this story to him, and after he had thought for a short time he got some powder and mixed it with some other powder into a bowl, and ground them together. He then put a small amount of liquid on to the powder and rolled the damp powder into small balls in the palm of his hands. Placing a number of these balls into a small bag, he instructed Nancy to put two of the balls into every cup of tea she drank, and if she was not clear of the blotches in the next week, to throw the remaining balls in to the fire and come back to see him. We did not go back to see him for some years as Nancy’s complaint had disappeared by the end of the week, and I have used Homoeopathic doctors over many years with great success. Both Nancy and I tell the story of that night we were at the Theatre Royal watching “Madame Butterfly” and how we made our way to my mother’s house in Paisley Road West, On that night my father was in the Princes dock and he phoned his employers headquarters in Robertson Street saying that he had seen a parachutist landing in the dock. The people in the office knew that father took a good drink and told him to go home to bed. On the Sunday morning while I was still half-asleep in bed , a mighty bang occurred which shook my bed off the floor, and I was out of that bed and dressed in two minutes flat. What father had seen that night was a parachute, but it was not carrying a man, it was carrying a land-mine, the same kind of land-mine that destroyed the tenements and tram cars in Nelson Street, on that night when Nancy and I were ordered not to enter Nelson Street. The damage that that land-mine did that night was visible many years later when the dock became part of the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988. As Nancy has written in her story, we sat on many nights reminiscing about past events, and one of these stories was about going to the swimming baths. Over many years her sister Margaret and she had tried to persuade their mother to give them money to go to the swimming baths, and one day their mother gave them a penny-halfpenny each to pay for their entry to Springburn public baths, and off they went full of excitement with their swimming costumes all ready to enjoy this wonderful event. Unfortunately when they presented their three-pence for admission, the cashier told them that the price had gone up to two pence the week before, and they would need to get another penny to get in. The sisters returned to their mother with the money that she had given them, and Nancy lived along life without ever learning to swim. I was quite intrigued one night when Nancy told me that my mother had asked her to come with her on a “Sludge Boat Trip” organised by the Co-operative Guild. I knew about these trips which were almost a yearly event for the ladies, but I never dreamed that Nancy would ever be on one. I heard how the Guild ladies travelled to Sheldhall dock where the “Sludge” boat lay, and in a short time the boat was on its way to the Island of Arran, where the crew would open doors on the bottom of the boat to discharge the sludge into a very deep ravine just off the Arran coast. The boat then turned round to return to Shieldhall to be refilled with more sludge from the Govan refuse works. The ladies were served with a lovely afternoon tea, and Nancy told me that there were no horrid smells, and that everything was spotlessly clean. There was one story that Nancy told that I hated to hear. This tale was about a night that we went to the F.& F. skating rink in Partick, and as we had never been to a skating rink before we both anticipated a good evenings fun. We paid the entrance fee plus the cost of hiring the ice skates, and tried to stand up on the ice, which both of us found to be a very difficult thing to do. We kept on trying with no success and a friend of mine came over with three of his friends and asked Nancy to come on to the ice with them. In a short time, with the help of these skaters Nancy was doing quite well, and I was getting more and more jealous of my friend and his friends who were able to get my wife to almost skate on her own. I never realised that I could get into a Jealous state over such a trivial incident, but that night on our way home I hardly spoke to Nancy, but later I admitted that my attitude was silly, and we both laughed about it. In 1943 Nancy left Alexander Calder and went to work for A. Black, a warehouse in Wilson Street, Glasgow, and she continued to work for them till 1945 . Meantime I was still working at Prestwick and Jock Neish came to visit us about once every month, and Nancy was always the perfect hostess in spite of the rationing. The beginning of 1945 came and the German bombing of Britain was almost at a standstill, The British and American air forces were destroying the German rocket platforms and aerodromes, most of the cities of Germany were devastated, and everyone was talking of when the war would end. In July of that year Nancy and I decided to holiday at Dunoon and we booked into a guest house named “The Cruachan” which was on the West Bay. This was a wonderful choice, the house had eight rooms and the folk who were our fellow guests were all about the age of ourselves, twenty six or thereabouts, and all looking for company and fun. The sun shone from morning till night, and add to that a bonus of good food and nice rooms, and you get the perfect holiday. We arrived on the Monday and on the Wednesday night we were getting ready for bed and on turning down the blankets we saw that our pygamas were all rolled up and the bed was covered with rice and various other bits and pieces. Nancy and I laughed at this, assuming that some of the guests had mistaken us for a honeymoon couple, so after clearing the bed we settled down to sleep. Next morning we entered the dining room to be greeted with cheers and much good-natured backchat, till Nancy informed them that we had been married in 1941, and never had a honeymoon as we were required to be back at work on the Monday after we were married on the Saturday. It turned out that it was a couple who were well into their thirties who were the newly weds, and we all congratulated them and they enjoyed the fact that it was the Mc Arthur’s bed that was violated and not theirs. It was on this holiday that we sought to find my second cousins, and as I remembered that Isobel worked in a baker’s shop in Argyll street, and we found her still working there. We were invited to come to Isobel’s house for tea, and were delighted to find she had a small son, and we all spent a pleasant evening gossiping about our families. Circumstances made it that we were never to meet Isobel again, and the only member of the Mc Intosh family I met with after this holiday was Isobel’s older sister Jean. One of our guest house friends suggested that we hire one of the larger boats with an engine to drive it, and one day we did just that. Nancy and I stepped aboard and when everyone was seated the hirer of the boat asked who was taking charge, and I heard a chorus of voices saying –Archie. The owner of the boat then showed me how to start and stop or slow down the engine, and with these instructions we set off. The first destination we tried to get to was the Gantocks , which lay half-way between the Dunoon shore line and the Cloch lighthouse on the Gourock shore. As the sun was brilliant we thoroughly enjoyed this trip, and started on our way back towards Kirn, carefully watching one of the paddle steamers making its way to berth at Kirn pier, when our engine suddenly stopped. Here was a dilemma, I tried without success to re-start the engine, keeping an eye on the approaching paddle steamer. I then remembered that sometimes the sparking plug gets greased up, so I looked around the engine and by good fortune there was a spanner for the sparking plug. I got the plug off and asked if anyone had a box of Swan Vestas matches, which luckily one of the men had, and with the striking patch on the Swan Vestas box I was able to clean the plug, and with more luck than skill I managed to re-start the engine, to the cheers of the grateful passengers. We arranged various trips with our new found friends and at the end of that fortnight we parted, all of us having enjoyed a wonderful vacation. I returned to my work at Prestwick aerodrome at the end of July 1945, and the newspapers were talking about the war being over very soon. Mary and Nancy kept in touch by letters, and we learned that she and Bert Anderson were not making any great progress towards a re-conciliation. Certain National newspapers were carrying notices to Britons to entice them to emigrate to Canada or Australia, which would only cost £10 for the fare if you stayed there for two years. We talked about us going to Australia where I would probably get a well paid job. The result of our talks was that we planned to go to London and lodge with Mary, so that we would be near the Australian House in the Strand, where we would make our arrangements to emigrate. This was a big step for Nancy and I to take, it would mean leaving what was left of our families and all of our friends, we would be going to live in a land that sounded lovely, but a land that we knew little or nothing about, so much careful thinking had to be done, much planning had to be discussed, such as the selling of our furniture and all those precious little pieces we had gathered since our wedding, and a million other things that our minds could not cope with. I got in touch with one of my trade union friends, and he kindly engaged in a letter exchange with his London office. I received a letter from him telling me that if I wished to go to London then there was a job available for me with a firm called “The Bristol Electrical Company” which employed tradesmen from their office in Victoria, and if I went to that office I would be employed by them to work on Liners which were being converted back to their original glory, after having been used to carry troops and stores during the war. Here was news that prompted Nancy and I to restart our talking about moving to London, here was an opportunity to put out talks into practice, here was the moment of decisions that were to change our lives for-ever. We both agreed that if we were to make this move I would require to give notice to Scottish Aviation that I was terminating my employment with them, and that I would have to move to London first, in order to arrange an interview with my future employer. Mary agreed that that we could lodge with her at No. 10 Blakemore Road, Streatham, London, S.W.16. and all that was left for us to do was to make the decision to take this tremendous step into our future. Here was a challenge that needed a lot of thought, if I went to London to obtain this job, then Nancy was going to be left to sell all our furniture, which we would require to put a price on, and she would have to advertise in the “Evening Times” that all our household goods were for sale, and it would be Nancy alone who would interview the prospective buyers who came to see what was for sale. We both set about putting a price on each item for sale, and because the war in the far east was still raging and there was a great shortage of furniture for sale, we did not expect too much bother in finding customers. We both thought of all the things that might happen, and we were glad when we were finally satisfied that we had done all that we could do, all the prices were on a list, the tools that I was taking with me were packed, and at the beginning of October 1945, I left the employment of Scottish Aviation. A week later we had a tearful parting as I looked around our Room and Kitchen home and remembered the wonderful years we had lived here, and here was I seeing it for the last time, and leaving Nancy with the difficult task of clearing the house, and terminating our tenancy. I left that day and took the train to London to verify that I had a job to go to, and seek out where Blakemore Road was, where I was to stay at Mary’s home in Streatham for the foreseeable future, and where I found that Mary had kindly given Nancy and I a room to ourselves on the upper floor. I phoned the offices of the Bristol Electrical Co. and arranged to come for an interview on the Wednesday of that week. I took the bus to Victoria and found my new employers office where I was greeted in a very nice manner by one of the senior staff. He asked me a few questions regarding my previous work, and seemed quite pleased with my answers, and when I brought out my references and tradesman’s papers he told me that my trade union Secretary had already sent him a reference and he would not require any others. I was then informed that I would be employed from this office for the purpose of payment of wages and overtime, but the firm had found that for workers living on the other side of London it was foolish for them to come to Victoria and then travel all the way back to the docks, so it had been agreed that the worker would go straight to the ship he was to work on, and would be paid as if he had reported to the office in Victoria. This was a brilliant arrangement as far as I was concerned, it meant that I was being paid wages while I was still in bed, and I was delighted to agree to those terms. My first job was to be at Tilbury docks, aboard a Liner that was being re-wired and equipped with the latest Radar and other electrical equipment. The gentleman who interviewed me then said that if I found any difficulties in the job I was to speak to the ship foreman, but if I was not satisfied I was to come to this office with my complaint. He then gave me directions on how to get to the docks, and told me to report to a Mr. John Hay, who was the firms foreman. Arriving back at Mary’s house I told her what had happened, and as I was to start work on the following Monday, I suggested to Mary that I would like to do a dummy run to Tilbury docks, to familiarise myself with the route, and the time it takes to get there. Next morning Mary woke me at 6-45,and after a quick breakfast I was at the bus stop at 7-15. I took the bus to the OVAL underground station and joined a train for the MONUMENT station, where I changed again to a train going to BARKING. Here I joined a steam train which took me to TILBURY. As this journey took just on two hours it was 9-15 when I saw the ship that I was to work on, and I wondered if my timekeeping would be satisfactory, or would I need to be on my way much earlier in the morning. On my first morning at work I reported to John Hay, my foreman, and met some seven other men who were to be my workmates. Some of my new fellow workers were later that me in arriving at the ship, and when the foreman had introduced me to them he left us, and I was told it was breakfast time. We all went to a cafe’ in GRAYS, and had rolls with various fillings before returning to the ship a little after 10 a.m.. Here I was told that I would be working with a man named George, who turned out to be very helpful to a newcomer. I was not long in getting to know what the job I was doing was all about, but I was surprised at how slow my mates were in getting the job done, but I quickly learned that it was not good policy to be too fast in completing the job. Twelve thirty was lunch time and after lunch we worked till five o-clock, when we had a half hour break for tea, after which we worked on till nine o-clock, when we finished for the day and made our way home. Our Foreman came aboard at five o-clock each night to ascertain who was working late, and he then caught a train home at five-forty-five. I could not understand why my fellow workers started to put away their tools about six-fifteen when the were supposed to be working till nine, but who was I to disagree with established workers, so I too made my way home. This was probably the easiest and best paid job I ever had, I was paid from six-thirty in the morning until nine o-clock each night except Sunday, and the only thing missing in my life was Nancy, and that was put right at the end of November, when Nancy arrived in London, and when I met her at Euston station, the world was a wonderful place. Nancy was not long in getting into the routine of living in London, and as Mary had to go to work, Nancy was a great help in looking after Iain and Sally and generally helping Mary in a hundred different ways. On a Saturday night Nancy and I would go to the Broadway cinema and enjoy a film, or on a Sunday when I would take a day off work, we would go into Central London to see the shops, and it was then that we realised how much damage had been done to this City. One night we went into town and went to the Windmill Theatre where the show was of famous masterpieces, naked women in picture frames depicting old masters, and of course the ladies were not supposed to move any part of their bodies, but you can only hold your breath for a limited time. Nancy enjoyed her first show of this kind, but we never went back to the Windmill again. One day on the ship the foreman asked all of the squad to come on deck as he had a job that had to be done, and he wanted to show the squad what it was. This job was to climb the fore and aft masts of the ship and secure an aerial between them. No one was making any signs of volunteering, and as it looked to me to be an easy enough job, the masts seemed to be standing still, and there was a ladder from the deck up to the top of the masts. I asked John Hay how the aerial was to be fixed and he said that it would be put into a ring on the mast, and the wires spliced as in a rope. I volunteered to do the job which would give me £10 an hour above my normal wages, so tying the wire aerial on to my trouser belt, and armed with a good set of pliers and an awl, I began to climb the foremast. The steel ladder at the bottom was about a foot across the rung, but as you got higher it gradually narrowed till you could only get one foot on the rung, and where from the deck the mast seemed to be standing still, from about half way up you saw yourself over the water at one moment and the next moment you were over the ware-houses on the dockside. Another little thing was that the higher I climbed the heavier the aerial became, until when I eventually reached the ring that I was to fasten to, I could hardly lift the wire up to the ring. It was then that I thought of a solution to my problems, if I could put my trouser belt round the mast, which was quite slim at the top, then my hands would be free for the splicing. Slowly I loosened my belt and got it round the mast, buckling it tightly and gradually that it could bear my weight, I began to pull the aerial up to the ring and pulled it through, and then using my awl I began to open the wires up so that they could be spiced. Splicing with wires is not an easy job, and remembering that I was being held up by my belt, and swinging over the water and the ware-houses, I certainly felt sorry that I had volunteered. It took an hour and more to splice and secure the cable, and when I was satisfied that the job was done, I got my belt back to its proper position and began my downward journey to the deck. I was congratulated on a job well done, but I told the foreman that the aft mast would have to wait till tomorrow. Next day I once again prepared to climb the aft mast, and decided to prepare the wire for splicing before I began my ascent. I then secured the aerial to a rope around my waist and began to climb the mast, which was much the same as climbing the foremast, except the higher that I went up the heavier the aerial became, and I then realised that from now till the job was done the whole weight of the aerial was pulling me down. With much struggling and aching arms I eventually reached the top and secured the aerial to the mast, and it was a much relieved Archie Mc Arthur who stepped on to that ships deck. There was a very pleasant outcome to this episode, my wage packet on the following Friday was some sixty pounds over my normal wages, and as I had been saving up some money to give Nancy a present. I added this sixty pounds to my savings and bought her a gold watch and a new wedding ring. Nineteen forty six was both a wonderful year and a very disappointing one, at the beginning of January Nancy told me that she thought she was pregnant, and while this good news brought all our plans about going to Australia to an end, it also brought us dilemmas that we had not thought of. When our child was born where would we stay, Mary’s house was always to be temporary accommodation, and to get a house in London at that time was almost impossible, so we firstly told Mary of Nancy’s pregnancy and Mary immediately said that we could stay with her as long as we wished. Later when we were alone, we talked over the pro’s and con’s of our situation, and Nancy took the attitude that while we had not planned to have children before going to Australia, we were both delighted that we were going to have a child, and we would carry on living in London until something else happened to change our minds. We carried on as usual with me working in the various docks and earning what to me were fabulous wages, and as the weeks passed, we spoke of the need to buy some furniture for our room, because with a new baby on the way we would need drawer space and somewhere to hang our clothes. However once again we were faced with a much bigger worry than the purchase of furniture. In February of 1946 I received a letter from the Royal Navy telling me to report to Chatham Barracks on a date of a few weeks away. I had always been in a reserved occupation where I was not liable to be called up to the forces, but on coming to London and starting work with a new employer I should have informed my new bosses to reserve my job, and as I didn’t the result was my calling up papers. Here was a thing that neither Nancy or I could have envisaged, never in our wildest dreams could we have foreseen this happening to us, but as with all the calamities that that came our way throughout our lives, we faced these problems and tackled them as best we could. The first thing that Nancy and I did was to go to Brixton and there we found that there was a “Times” furniture shop on a corner site, and when we entered we saw that there was a large selection of “Utility” furniture and when we examined its quality we realised that it was very well made and worth the money they were charging for it. We purchased a wardrobe and a chest of drawers, and two wooden chairs for our bedroom and these pieces of furniture served us well for many long years. In the letter that I received from the Navy was a travel warrant for Chatham, and on the appointed day I presented myself at the Barracks of that Naval base. I was taken to a large gymnasium type room where I found that I was one of about fifty young men who were called up as I was, and were awaiting an officer who would allocate them a hammock station and show them where the various barracks were . We were taken to “Nelson” barracks, and this was to be our quarters for the next few months. We were each given a Kit-bag, a hammock, and a blanket and informed that the number we were given was the number of our hammock station, and this was where we would sleep during our stay in this barracks. During that first day we took the opportunity to get to know some of the men nearest to us, and I was fortunate to be beside a man named Robert Coyle, who was to be with me during my service in the Navy. In the first six weeks we were drilled each morning on the parade ground, and each afternoon we were taken to classrooms where we were examined on our knowledge of our various trades, which had us doing simple jobs on a turning lathe or a milling machine. On some days we were asked to draw an electrical circuit and find electrical faults, which were deliberately put into a machine by an officer. At the end of the six week course I realised that where there were fifty men on the course there was now only thirty, and we gradually learned that the twenty missing men had failed the examinations of these first six weeks. Bob Coyle and I were now close friends, and we were determined that we were not going to fail what we were to be given in the coming weeks. Each night we would discuss the things that we had done during that day, and write down in a note-book formula we had been taught, or observations on what we thought of what we were learning. Sometime during the second six week period some of our group were transferred to an electrical workshop, where there were circuit boards at various places, and some machines such as a drilling machine, a lathe, a Brown & Sharp milling machine, and a large surface table. It was in this workshop that we were tested to our limits as tradesmen, with no warning we would be told that a piece of machinery had broken down, and it was required to be repaired immediately, as it was essential for the running of the ship. These tests were a severe exercise on our ability as tradesmen, and fortunately Bob and I got through the tests fairly easily, and it was then that we were told that we were being transferred to H.M.S. Raleigh in Devon, for a short, sharp commando course. It was certainly exactly what they said, ten days of running, jumping over rivers, scrambling up trees and leaping over a sludge filled ditch on a knotted rope, and as we were wearing a tin hat, carrying a rifle and other equipment it was no easy task, and as a last part of this exercise we were ordered to run up a hill and at the top we would see a chasm, and on the other side of this chasm there would be a line of 10 tiles, which we were to fire at and knock down. I do not know how I survived this torture, but at the end of the day we were told that our squad of twelve men had passed with some honour. Leaving “Raleigh” we were transported to H.M.S. Pembroke, which was in Eastbourne, where we were stationed in a Hotel which was run like a ship, with watches, messes, Liberty boats, and all the things we would have when we were aboard ship. Here we were taught to find faults in guns, elevators, and all the other equipment we would find on a ship, and it had to be done in the smartest possible time. As Bob and I had already had some small experience in this type of fault-finding, we found it relatively easy to find the faults, as it was usually a small rubber ring put between an electrical connection which stopped the power getting through to the rest of the circuit, and in the ten days that we were there we passed our exams in a reasonable way. Our next move was to Portsmouth, where we were put on board H.M.S. Warspite for a week, where we were put through a set of exams both practical and theoretical, and it was here that we were given large note books where we were to draw all the various coils and electrical circuits which were to be found in the many types of warships in the Royal Navy. Again Bob and I got through this week without problems, and we then moved on to H.M.S. Malborough for three days, which were used to test our skills in theoretical formulae, and here again we managed to pass with reasonable marks. I had been writing to Nancy every week and keeping up with her progress as a prospective mother, and at this time she told me that she and Mary and the children were going to Margate for a fortnight on holiday, and she would write to me from there, My next letter from Nancy was a wonderful surprise, it seems that when they got settled into their hotel, it was getting near either Grand National day, or Derby day, and Nancy and Mary decided to put something on two horses in whatever race it was. The spoke to some men who were putting bets on, and were told that Radio Therapy and Airbourne were two good bets. As they didn’t have a lot of cash they each put one pound each way on the two horses, and miracle of miracles the horses came in first and second and they both received some thirty pounds eachfrom the bookie. Nancy bought me a lovely white silk scarf for my uniform, anda cigarette case with my initials on it. I still have the scarf but the other present has long since gone. It was at this time that we arranged for Nancy to have our baby in Wandsworth Maternity Home, which was a private home and cost a fortune, but this was the only place we could get at that time. Nancy was as usual just taking things as they came, never complaining or asking for help if she could do it herself, and her letters to me were always cheery and interesting. Mary was out working and Nancy was looking after the house and the children as best she could. After our three days at H.M.S, Malborough, we were moved back to the Naval base at Vernon, and were to be on the “Warspite” for the next three months, from the eighth of June till the first of October, and this was perhaps the most difficult part of our training. The “Warspite” was berthed in Portsmouth harbour and was separated from H.M.S, Ramillese by three large floating wooden rafts, which kept the two ships from bumping, and it was here that we were to be trained to be Petty Officers, and get used to being confined to a ship for a long period of time. It was on this ship that we went through our final examinations, and on September the 13th I was in the middle of an examination when a Warrant Officer came into the room and asked if there was an Archie Mc Arthur present, and when I stood up he said that there was a telegram for me and that I would get it when I finished my papers, I had nearly completed my papers and hurriedly finished off what I thought was necessary for me to get a pass mark, and asked permission to leave the room which was granted, and I made my way to the Warrant Officers roomto get my telegram. Nancy had arranged with Mary that when our baby was born Mary would send a telegram with a simple message that the baby was born and everything was all right, if the baby was a boy then the message would say “Russell was born today”., and if it was a girl “Morag was born today”. The massage this time said “Russell was born today” and I was delighted to be a father, and immediately applied for leave to see my new born child, which was abruptly refused. It was at this time that I had a recurrence of a problem with my bowels which now and again refused to function, and after a week of pain I was put into the sick bay. The officer in charge decided after two days that he would administer a hot glycerine enema on two separate days, and this did nothing to relieve my pain. I spoke to the Officer and asked if I could get a weekend leave, to see my wife and son, and after a little thought he said that as I would be lying in the sick bay at any rate, I could have four days leave. I very quickly got my overnight bag packed and by lunchtime I was making for the train to take me to London. On the way to the station I bought a packet of “Exlax” from Boots the chemist, and put two pieces of the chewing gum into my mouth, and after an hour of waiting I boarded the train, to find myself heading straight for the toilet. I think I was in that toilet for most of the journey to London, and was more than delighted when I finally got home to Blakemore Road. This was the first time that I heard the horrible story of Russell’s birth from Nancy, and I felt that I would kill the incompetent so called nurses in that Wandsworth Nursing Home. On the night before the birth Nancy was standing with Sally in a queue for the Broadway Cinema, when she felt that she would require to get Mary to take her to the nursing home, and in the shortest time possible Nancy was in the home. Nancy has written some of her experiences down in her book, and I will tell the story in her words. “I know that some women are inclined to talk of the birth of their babies, and you might say “We have heard it all before”, but I feel that for my first birth, if the medical fraternity heard of it happening today, they would be horrified. I arrived at the private nursing home in Wandswoth, London, about 8-thirty P.M. and was taken to an empty ward and left all on my own. A nurse then came to take me for a bath, she showed me into the bath-room and left me. I undressed, but I was far advanced in labour that I had great difficulty in getting into the bath, and much more difficulty in getting out. When she arrived back I was just drying myself and she said in an angry voice “What has taken you so long, hurry up and get your night dress on, I haven’t got all night” She took my hand and literally ran me along the corridor to a ward where once again I was left on my own. All I remember is screwing the blankets in my hands and saying “Please God, let it come”. Much later a nurse came and said “ I will take you to a room near the labour room, I don’t think you’ll come till tomorrow” I was put into a tiny room with one bed, and I would say about mid-night she came and examined me and shouted, “Oh my God, The head is here” She then told me that there was only two of them, and three of us in labour. She said, “ I know it is your first but help me all you can”. She put her arms in a gown and asked me to tie her up at the back, and within the first hour of the morning my baby was born, (A boy). I heard her say “ Oh dear, a jagged afterbirth, which meant that there was a piece left inside me. Russell was born on the 13th of September 1946 and I was put back into this ward again all on my own. My temperature was taken regularly on Saturday, but during the night I took a shivering fit and the bed shook constantly but I didn’t know what was wrong. The nurse came around about six A.M. to take my temperature and nearly fainted when she saw that my temperature was through the roof. I had child bed fever from the diseased piece of after-birth left inside me, I was then removed to a single room and isolated. The nurses had to put on a special gown and mask when attending to me. I was given a full cup of castor oil to clean out my inside of this infection. I was in this ward on my own for two weeks. I had no magazines or books, just four walls to look at. My sister Mary, with a little girl of four years and a boy of ten years were my only visitors on odd days, as it was a long bus journey from her home to the nursing home. Archie was in the Royal Navy and couldn’t get leave. Would you believe that I was given a doze of cascara every single night. In the two weeks I was there I was not once allowed up on my feet. The day before I was allowed home I was allowed to sit on a chair at the side of my bed. The sister came on the night before I was due home and brought me a doze of cascara and said, “ Take it up like a good girl”. I did hear from a nurse that they called her The cascara queen. I got home next day with my little son, and must thank Mary for the excellent way she looked after me and Russell. On the H.M.S. Warspite, we were kitted out with our petty officers uniforms, and we were all very proud to say that it was well earned. In years gone past I would never have dreamed that I would be pleased to wear a military uniform, but when Bob and I got shore leave to go to Russell’s christening in Saint Leonards Church in Streatham, I was quite pleased of my crossed anchors and gold crown on my flat cap. On the second of October we were transferred to H.M.S. Malborough again, and here was something that I never expected to happen to me. We were sitting one morning in the electrical workshop when a Warrant Officer came in and asked if any of us came from the north of the country and I said that I came from Scotland, hoping that I would be sent there for whatever reason. The Officer said that was near enough, come with me, and I followed him to an office where he informed me that I would be escorting some prisoners to the “Glass House” at Preston, and as one of the prisoners was a Canadian murderer I had to be very careful that he was delivered safely. It turned out that there was to be seven men to be escorted, and that meant that I required seven Killicks or torpedo men to whom the prisoners would be handcuffed. The Warrant Officer gave me a warrant and told me that transport would take us to the station, where the prisoners and escort would be fed at the stall in the station, and each prisoner was only to have one hand free. Two carriages were reserved for us and transport would meet us at Preston to take us to the “Glass House”. Arriving at the station we were all fed with no problems, but when we boarded the train we found that civilians had occupied our carriages in spite of large notices saying that these carriages were reserved. I spoke to these folk, telling them that I was escorting prisoners up north, and they would require to find other seats. Some of them became annoyed and were protesting , but I knew that I only had to call the military police and they would remove the protesters. However, when I entered the first carriage with my baton in my hand, the protests stopped, and I had no more trouble. The Canadian asked if he could go to the toilet, so I told the man that he was handcuffed to, to come along to the toilet with me. When we got there I took my handcuff and secured the prisoners arm to mine, and the Killick took his handcuff off. I told the Canadian to enter the toilet where I secured him to the water pipe, telling him that when he was finished he would be freed. Everything went all right and we were met at Preston and taken to the “Glass House” where I was given a receipt for seven bodies, no names. The Torpedo men were all near their homes and I told them that we were all to catch a certain train the next afternoon. I could have been put up at the “Glass House” for the night, but I had enquired how near NELSON was to where I was, and learned that it was not too fat. I found my way to Nelson where Anne Hezeltine, the wife of the airman who was billeted with Nancy’s sister lived. I didn’t know an address but I knew she worked in the Co-op and as Nelson is not that large I was soon sitting down to a nice cup of tea. This was the first time that I saw what was called the “Six Foot Drop” . When I asked Anne where the toilet was, she directed me to the bottom of the garden, where a door opened to reveal a long board with a large round hole cut in the centre, and looking down this hole there was running water about six feet below. I met up with the Killicks the next day and we all got safely back to H.M.S, Malborough. When my mother heard that she had another grandson she wrote to me asking when I could come to Glasgow to let her see Russell. I showed Nancy the letter, and as we had no way of being in Glasgow in the foreseeable future, and with no place of our own to put mother up, we had to think of how we could find a solution to our problem. I had a weekend leave about the end of October and Nancy and I went to the “Cumberland Hotel” near Marble Arch to enquire what the cost would be for mother to be put up for two nights, and as the price was less than we imagined and hotels were not doing very good trade at this time we decided to telegram mother asking her if this arrangement would be O.K. and if so, would she telegram us with the date she would be coming and the train she was arriving on. Everything worked out fine and Nancy and I had a nice two days in London with Russell’s grandmother. On the 15th of November 1946, I returned to H.M.S. Pembroke at Chatham, and four days later I was told that Bob and I were being posted to abase at Roseneath, which was on the Clyde opposite Helensburgh . This was great for me, as if I got any weekend leave I could be in Glasgow in less than an hour. The Roseneath base was occupied by the Americans for some years , and when they were preparing to evacuate the base, they bored a mighty cave into a hillside and ran many lorries, cars, and tractors with any other vehicles that they owned, along with hundreds of radios, bicycles, clothes and foodstuffs, and set fire to the lot. Although I personally did not see this happen, I have spoken to men who were on the base at the time, and they verify that materials worth hundreds of thousands of pounds were destroyed at that time. Bob and I had various jobs to do at this base, we both worked the projector for the cinema, and were responsible for keeping one of the two generators in tip-top condition while the other was in use. We were also put in charge of a group of German prisoners who at that time worked at erecting telegraph poles on the road up to Clynder, where the base Commander had his headquarters, and the poles that were being erected would carry electricity to his house. Over many weeks I got to know some of these Germans enough to have small talk to, and one of these was an engineer from north Germany by the name of Artur. On an odd day I would slip him some cigarettes and one day during a break he handed me a paper bag with a bottle in it. When I looked at the bottle I found that it had a ship in a harbour scene, and Artur said that it was for me. I was more than pleased to accept this gift, and I still have it in my home. We were six months on this base and on the 6th of April we were told to report to the office, and when Bob and I arrived there we found another four Petty Officers in the room. The Warrant Officer then told us that although the war in Europe was over, the war in the far east was still raging, and the reason he had called us here was to ask us to sign on for another three years, and be transferred to an eastern station. We would receive a two hundred pound bonus, and be discharged after the three years were up. There was no way that I was going to sign up for another three years, with a wonderful wife and a little son at home, it was as quickly as I could be demobbed and be with Nancy in London. Only two of the six present volunteered, and the other four were told that they would be discharged at York in two days time. When we arrived in York we were given a green suitcase, a suit of clothes, a shirt and tie, shoes, socks and more or less a complete outfit, which along with our kitbag full of our own stuff, was a load to carry. I arrived home to Nancy on the 8th of April 1947 to begin a new chapter in our ever changing lives, and the big difference that I knew, was the wonderful fact that we were now a family, with a lovely little boy to bring up as best we could. At the lectures on my discharge I was informed that my wages would continue for a certain time in order to allow me to settle in to civilian life, and during that time I would be allowed to wear my Petty Officers uniform. Nancy and I loved being together again and made the most of our time by taking Russell for walks in Streatham common and various other places, but all good things come to an end, and our good time came to an end when Mary told Nancy that Bert Anderson had approached her to see if there was any chance that they could come together again. Nancy, being Nancy, immediately said that she and I would make arrangements to return to Glasgow as soon as possible, and in a short time she had arranged with her sister Sadie, that we would come and stay with her at Broomknowes Road. And so it was that we arrived back in Glasgow at the beginning of May 1947, and so ends this section of “Our Story.