Probus members recall their national service memories

A change of format for Kirriemuir Probus Club’s latest meeting saw three of its members, introduced by Jim Smith, speaking about ’National Service – Fond Memories’.

Jim opened proceedings by giving a short history of how conscription had begun during World War One, and of how conscripts were involved in both World Wars, and in several other areas of conflict, until 1960 when compulsory call-up ended.

Interestingly a show of hands revealed that approximately half of the Probus members had served their time in National Service.

Recalling his time in the RNVR from 1953-55, Douglas Loomes showed photographs of the various navy vessels and shore bases he served in, and described several tours of duty and experiences in the Mediterranean, West Indies and Scandinavia, being told at the time that they were ‘privileged – seeing the world and getting paid for it’, the pay amounting to 27/6 per week!

Representing the Army, Bill Howie began by announcing that he ‘had no time to take photographs’ when he joined the Black Watch in 1954.

Strict discipline was enforced from day one, and he fondly recalled the route marches, daily inspections, weapons training, etc.

After a spell at Fort George, Bill was flown out to Kenya at the time of the Mau Mau Rebellion, eventually returning via Suez. Bill recalled some experiences there, and in the British zone of Berlin at the time of The Cold War before his demob.

Bill Boyle, in contrast, saw nowhere outside the UK in his time with the RAF, and said he never saw an aircraft!

In 1954 after several weeks of square-bashing and rifle drill at an ex-POW camp at Cannock Chase, he was sent to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire where the airfield was on a care and maintenance basis, with no aircraft, where he did typist and clerical work.

Bill ended up doing these duties at Bomber Command HQ before his demob and joining the police.

Some questions and discussion followed, after which Jim Smith thanked the speakers for their memories of conscription, the consensus being that it was a worthwhile duty, and a chance to the see the world.

The next Kirriemuir Probus Club meeting is on Wednesday, March 7, when Rev. Ian Murray will talk on ‘Scottish Antiques.’