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The African Star The Italian Star Territorial's Tale

Quick Ren - Here's yer Faither!

Weekend 'Sodjers'

The above link publicising Territorial Week for the TA Headquarters with Lord Provost Mitchell and Major Lyon, chairman of Territorial Association, who visit the RE 2B6. Field Company's display accompanied by Officer Commanding. Shots of visitors outside splinter-proof shelter and scenes inside drill hall showing a Model of a box girder bridge .Also shots of the TA ball in the 'Palais de Danse', crowded with uniformed dancers and the local band.

Terriers - TA Aberdeen Circa 1938 Alexander Wood Fowler top row 4th in from Right at Don Barracks
75th (Highland) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (9)
(H.Q., 299th (City of Aberdeen) & 300 th (City of Aberdeen) Field Batteries, Royal Artillery)
This was a T.A. regiment, with the headquarters, 298th , 299th and 300th Batteries being
based at Ruby Lane, North Silver Street, Aberdeen;

The Don Barracks
Gordon Barracks are situated in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. Built by J & W Wittet, circa 1935, the barracks buildings are located around the barrack square.  Constructed of dressed granite blocks, the two-storey central block, once used as the Junior Ranks Club, is typical of the style with 3 bays and being rectangular in shape. The roof is crowstepped and slated. It has very grand Royal coated arms tripartite above with pediment detail. Other listed buildings include: the Medical Reception Centre, 3 barracks blocks, the Guard Room, Gate Piers and Gates, Married Quarters, the Officers Mess and the Gymnasium.  Once the depot for the Gordon Highlanders, Gordon Barracks, it then became the training depot for the Highland Brigade. It is still actively used for training by the local cadet groups. The Barracks also hosts many events which serve the community of Aberdeen.

Ellon Road, Gordon Barracks Parade Ground Barracks Block A, Old Machar (Don Barracks)
Block A 1935. 2-storey, 7-bay range with wider advanced and crowstepped centre bay with apex stack. Squared granite rubble with rock-faced base courses, finely tooled ashlar dressings with long and short quoins. Centre bay, 3 windows each floor. Outer bays, windows in pairs. All windows narrow with multi-pane. Sash and case glazing. Straight skews, end stacks, slate roof. Entrance at rear.   

Block B 1935 2-storey, 7-bay range with wider advanced and crowstepped gabled centre bay with apex stack. Squared granite rubble with rock-faced base courses, finely tooled ashlar dressings and long and short quoins. Door off-centre left of wide central bay, 2 windows to left 3 above. Outer bays windows in pairs. All windows narrow with multi-pane sash and case glazing. Entrance to rear: straight skews, stack at E. Slate roof. 

Block C 1935. 2-storey, 7-bay symmetrical range with 3 window advanced centre gabled bay with straight skews, stepped skewputt and centre stack. Squared granite rubble. Windows paired in outer bays; multi-pane sash and case glazing throughout. Slate roof; end stacks. Entrance at rear (S).

My father joined the TA's at 18 for shear bravado and some extra shillings for weekend soldiering to eak out his otherwise meagre earnings.  Seen here in the ubiquitous tinted photos (before colour) take pride of place in the home within a mirror surround bevelled edge glass frame.  The watching sentinel image as wife with new born bairn and 2 other sons to feed in their absence were waiting for the dreaded telegram borne news of widowhood from the Government War Department.  All before the Welfare State had been mooted.

This preparation merely pronounced him 'ready trained' when war was declared in 1939 and he found himself catapulted out as a Royal Artillery Man into North Africa to attack Rommel's German Tank Corp with 25 pound shells with nothing but fingers to put in his ears making him very deaf indeed.  Censored photographs shown him kneeling next to the shells as tall as he was in that position.  He really lost the will to live or return to his family as he witnessed the carnage among his colleagues.

He went from Egypt on to Alexandria, Cairo Libya, Sicily and more heavy pounding of Monte Cassino in Italy.  He eventually reached Rome where he was repatriated and demobbed only to run in fear of being Z-Reserved into the Korean Conflict in the 1950's.

Despite being given enough money to buy a house and fully equipped with a new suit and hat - the full Montague Burton's when demobilised - they all pissed it away like the Hero's they saw themselves to be and then resumed their hand to mouth living as common labourers billeted in a Garret with little more comfort than a desert tent. 

Although a trained and an expert Fish Filleter in Torry he did not enjoy the work and spent his days humping Sacks of Coal up tenement stairs or lifting steel Plates about in the Plater's Shed of many a Shipyard in Aberdeen.  Perhaps he found the voracious sexual appetite of the predatory Fish Wifes too exhausting.  He would rather have a plate of Broth.

Field Marshal The Viscount Alanbrook

"During the last war, I had the opportunity of seeing most of the British, Dominion and Indian Divisions, many American Divisions, and several French and Belgian Divisions, and I can assure you that, among all these, the 51st unquestionably takes its place alongside the very few which, through their valour and fighting record, stands in a category of their own." 

"It is at once a humiliation and an honour to have had such a Division under one's command. I shall always remember the Highland Division with admiration and high regard".

Father was much impressed by the slow flow of Lava at Mount Etna after the invasion of Sicily and they also were given and introduction to Vesuvius and pleasures of the flesh portrayed in ancient Pompeii.  He delighted in saying he had 'Peshed in the Po' (River) and often recounted his mixing with the wild Italian Partisans from the mountains who were then the Italian Resistance.

Scots family life was an austere existence and what money he had left after a hard weeks labour and the Friday trip to the pub had to sustain the family for the rest of the week if his football pools results did not release him from such torment.  Constant struggles ensued to balance the family budget, pay the rent to the landlady (always in arrears), provide food for the table (bless the the regular free 'Fry') and cheap but rationed food, clothing the bairns (bless the Parish Boots), feeding the gas meter (bless the rebates), buy the coal supplemented by firewood salvaged from the Harbour (Bless the Flotsam).  A family of 5 living in some 170 sq ft in the 2 roomed attic of a four storey tenement house built circa 1860 with outside toilets and washroom and no running water or electricity supplied to the Garret level.  Heating in the winter was a major problem and we huddled in our beds like nested spoons in a drawer.  A land fit for heroes indeed with long searing bouts of unemployment.

Although a powerful man he had little self confidence despite his wartime experience and was a constant gnawer of his finger nails making his massive fat square hands look even bigger and more formidable when raised as weapons - Hud up yer Knivs!  Despite being a trained driver in the army he did not seek to drive cars or lorries as in his own words - i lost mah confidence - perhaps a nasty wartime experience settled this.  The nervousness extended to his diet and he developed a stomach ulcer - a duodenal that forced him to eat mainly fish boiled in milk and light 'Energen' rolls for bread washed down with concoctions of Bisodol, Settlers, Rennies etc for acid calming medicine.  His frequent bouts of sickness would set up a chain reaction through the kids as we all puked in turn out of our nauseating sympathy induced by the sound and smell of his voluminous vomit..  He was finally operated on but now it would be cured by a course of antibiotics - I fear his Desert Army rations had done for his guts during his wartime campaign in North Africa.

In his prime he was quite brutal towards his 3 boys ruling with a heavy hand he boasted that even if we were 50 we would never be able to knock him down - he was a minder for a Bookie - when i was at the age of 16 he tore the front out of a shirt that I had just bought and in my pent up rage I swung a haymaker of a punch at his jaw and he collapses to the floor unconscious - my thought was that would be the end of my life but it proved to be the end of his omnipotent authority over the family.  No mean feat for a emaciated lad of 9 stone in weight.  He didn't eat for a week as his jaw hurt so much.  If ever such confrontations were to happen to me my reply would have been - 'now run along sonny before your dad gets angry' and to pre-learn to ride a venomously delivered punch.
Pictured here in Northfield Council House, 31 Davidson Gardens, aged about 34 circa 1955

When he was 37 the suffered an accident while assisting the fitting of a coping to a trawler on a floating pontoon.  The coping had not been pre-bent properly and by forcing and tack welding the the steel half round it finally won the stress war and broke free sending the men falling to a cluttered steel deck from the inadequate temporary scaffold.  He broke his elbow and his marketability as a labourer ended.  Enforced nursing and neglect of the damage to increase his industrial claim resulted in an withered arm and a paltry lump sum being paid instead of a life pension.  The premium was promptly drank away by his ready companions in the post injury idle state.

His 40s were little better as he developed Bowel Cancer and despite undergoing a colostomy operation he succumbed to secondary's and died aged 49 years.  His coffin image was that of an emaciated cadaver with a full head of hair.  The arms still retained the massive hands undiminished in their former threat and strength.  As the youngest son in my 20's thought my that's a fair age and life served but when I equalled that era myself it seemed to early to shed the mortal coil so readily.  His mother outlived all her sons bar 2 but by then was quite senile in her 90s and recognised few of her progeny.

1939-45 Star

Quick Ren - Here's yer Faither -
was a mother's urgent signal to her bairns to run far from sight for fear of immediate punishment - no wonder we never saw fathers as affectionate beings.  Mothers should have more care to balance such formidable strengths with a little of the weakness.


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Last modified: 01/09/2013