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Project Title: This Happens In War

Exhibition: "It was easier to put me in the Black Watch" National Service

In 1948 the National Service Act was passed. It made all young men liable for National Service in the armed forces. Service could be deferred, if a person was an apprentice or in full time education. Young men were sent to units at home and abroad. Some of those, in the Black Watch, were sent to the War in Korea and then to Kenya. National Service ended in December 1960. This exhibition relives the story of National Service through the reminiscences of Derek Halley, Jack Erskine, Harry Ellis, Jim Anderson, Bob Mitchell, Alasdair Masson and Ian Agnew. It also explores photographs, maps, documents and artefacts of that time.

Assets in this exhibition:

Call up for National Service

In 1948 the British Government passed The National Service Act which made all young men liable for military service from January 1949. Service was to be for a fixed period of 18 months with four years in the reserves. In 1950, the outbreak of the Korean War led to an amendment. The period of service was increased to two years with three and a half years in the reserves. National Service ended on 31st December 1960 and the last soldier to be demobilised left the Army in May 1963.

Call up, however, could be deferred if men were in full time education or in apprenticeships. Jack Erskine was an apprentice blacksmith and farrier. Bob Mitchell was an apprentice joiner. Both had their call up deferred. As a jute mill mechanic, Harry Ellis could not defer his call up; nor could Alastair Masson as a banking clerk. All the men were guaranteed their jobs back, for six months, when they returned from service. Ian Agnew chose to do his National Service before he went to University.

Before signing on, recruits were offered three year's service as regular soldiers with increased pay, and Jim Anderson took this option.




Derek Halley recalls being called up in January 1952

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Description

1952. Killin, Perthshire. Derek Halley describes how he was recruited into The Black Watch but had no idea where he would be sent

Biography

Derek Halley was born near Crieff, Perthshire, in April 1933. After finishing school he was called up for National Service with The Black Watch. He was trained at Fort George, near Inverness. He was promoted Corporal. He was sent by Hong Kong and Japan to Korea.

Transcript

January 1952. Not really, I didn't have a trade so I automatically joined the local regiment, being The Black Watch.

Absolutely not. No I had no idea [where I would be sent.]

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Crieff, Perthshire
Original Source: Derek Halley video interview 18th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Derek Halley in 1951

Exhibition Image One

Description

Derek Halley went to school in Crieff. He has adopted a casual pose by a car.

Source

Date: 1951
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Crieff, Perthshire
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


National Service Registration Card

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Description

Derek Halley's National Registration Card.

NATIONAL SERVICE ACTS - Certificate of Registration
Occ[pational] Class[ificatio]n. No 21014. Registration No. C.R.N. 1799
Holder's Name DAVID DEREK HALLEY
Home Address KENKNOCK GLENLOCHAY KILLIN PERTHSIRE
Date of Birth 17/4/33
Signed David D Halley

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Killin, Perthshire
Original Source: Courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


Enlistment Notice, 1952

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Description

Derek Halley's Enlistment Notice is dated 3rd January 1952. He was not yet 17 years and 9 months old.

The notice reads: "Dear Sir, In accordance with the National Service Acts, 1948 to 1950, you are called upon for service in the Regular Army and are required to present yourself on THURSDAY 3 JAN 1952 (date) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to
Black Watch, Queen's Barracks, Perth"

A travel warrant was enclosed, but could only be exchanged for a railway ticket at Perth Station, 40 miles away. In 1952 there was a steam carriage from Killin to Mid Lix which linked with the Crianlarich to Stirling railway. There was a railway from Lochearnhead, via Comrie and Crieff to Perth.

Derek Halley was a sent a 4 shilling (20 pence) Postal Order, which represented an advance of service pay.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Killin, Perthshire
Original Source: Courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


Medical Grade Card

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Description

Derek Halley's Medical Grade Card.

Derek Halley was examined at Baird Hall, Dundee, on 8th October 1951. He was placed in GRADE I (ONE) by Dr K Rankine of the Dundee Medical Board.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Killin, Perthshire
Original Source: Courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


Derek Halley in uniform, 1952

Exhibition Image One

Description

Derek Halley in uniform at home in 1952.

Derek Halley is wearing a khaki felted wool battledress blouse, open at the collar to show a khaki shirt and tie. He is wearing a Tam O’ Shanter bonnet (TOS) with a Black Watch red hackle.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Killin, Perthshire
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Derek Halley


Tam O’ Shanter bonnet

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Description

All Highland soldiers were issued with large Tam O’ Shanter bonnets made of khaki felted wool. The Black Watch emblem, the red hackle, was worn on the left side above the ear.

The bonnet was called a TOS by the soldiers.

Source

Date: 1945
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Germany
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch A/7924/3 Private Alexander


A Black Watch khaki battledress blouse

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Description

The battledress blouse is made of felted khaki wool. It is fixed at the waist by a strap and buckle. It has two pockets with buttoned flaps. The collar is turned down. Soldiers wore a khaki flannel shirt and tie. In battle, the tie was replaced with a camouflage net scarf. Each shoulder has a buttoned strap.

The Black Watch Regimental patch, on the sleeve, is cut in the shape of the Black Watch badge, a St Andrew’s Cross with a star. The tartan is Black Watch tartan.

Source

Date: 1940s
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Black Watch recruits marching

Exhibition Image One

Description

Derek Halley is in the middle of the front row of marching recruits.

The recruits are all wearing olive drab denim blouses and trousers and Tam O’ Shanter bonnets with red hackles. They are wearing hob nailed boots and webbing gaiters at the ankle; webbing belts with a brass buckle and slides and webbing ammunition pouches.

The file leaders, with Derek Halley in the centre, are carrying Sten sub machine guns on long slings. The others are carrying Lee-Enfield .303 calibre rifles "at the slope."

The 9mm Sten sub machine gun was developed in 1940 after the British Army lost so many weapons at the evacuation at Dunkirk. Designed by Shepherd and Turpin and made by Enfield, the gun was given the name STEN. Some 4 million of the guns were made. Simple in design, they were made even more simple as World War Two progressed. A gun could be made in 5 man-hour’s work. The gun continued in use into the 1960s.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Barry Buddon, Angus
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


1943 issue webbing

Exhibition Image One

Description

Each soldier was issued with khaki canvas webbing. There is a broad, adjustable belt with brass buckle and slides. At the front are fixed two ammunition pouches. Webbing braces are fixed behind the pouches and passed over the shoulder to cross behind. They fix into two buckles at the back of the belt. A holster for a bayonet is slipped over the belt.

Here a khaki felt covered metal water bottle is shown on the webbing. The water bottle is fixed by two buckles to a webbing shoulder strap.

Soldiers were also issued with a small pack and a large pack, both made of stiff canvas. The large pack had additional ammunition pouches on either side.

Source

Date: 1943
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Germany
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


British Lee-Enfield rifle

Exhibition Image One

Description

The Lee-Enfield rifle had a bolt-action, and was magazine fed. It used a .303 inch bullet. 10 rounds fitted into a magazine.

The rifle had been developed in England by Lee-Metford in 1888. It continued in use in the British Army into the 1960s.

The Mark IV rifle was issued in 1941. It had a shorter stock which exposed the end of the barrel. This allowed a shorter bayonet to be fitted to the barrel.

See if you can spot Mark IV rifles in other photographs.

Source

Date: 1941
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Most Improved Recruit

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Description

Derek Halley was the most improved recruit in his squad.

DEPOT THE BLACK WATCH (ROYAL HIGHLAND REGIMENT)
This Proficiency Certificate is awarded to No 22622554 Pte HALLEY D. for being the MOST IMPROVED RECRUIT of No 4 Squad for the period of BASIC TRAINING from 4 January 1952 to 13 February 1952.

The Depot Commander was Major David Rose. He was about to be promoted Lieutenant Colonel and was to be sent to Korea to command the 1st Battalion The Black Watch.

At the end of his recruit training, Derek Halley was promoted Corporal and put in charge of a squad.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


Jack Erskine recalls being called up for National Service

Exhibition Image One

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Description

1952. England. Jack Erskine describes how he insisted on joining The Black Watch for his National Service

Biography

Jack Erskine was born in Lochgelly in January 1931. His father was a soldier and moved to Yorkshire. Jack Erskine became an apprentice blacksmith and farrier. He insisted on joining The Black Watch for his National Service.

Transcript

Well, I should have gone in 1949, but being an apprentice - and I had to do 7 years because I was doing two trades; I was doing a blacksmith's and a farrier, so my time didn't finish until I was 21. So it was 1950 - February 1952.

In National Service you didn't have any choice at all. But I had my own way of choosing.

Well, my father being an old soldier - he was out of the Army by that time - told me that if I wanted to go in The Black Watch I would have to either join as a Regular or I would have to tell them that if they - I wouldn't go unless they put me in The Black Watch. I'd go to jail first. And he said "Well," he said, "They'll put you in The Black Watch before they put you in jail." And he was correct of course.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Jack Erskine
Location: Yorkshire
Original Source: Jack Erskine video interview 18th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Jack Erskine as a recruit

Exhibition Image One

Description

Jack Erskine, on the left, as a Black Watch recruit.

All the recruits are wearing khaki felted wool battledress blouses, opened at the collar, with khaki shirts and ties and khaki Tam O’ Shanter bonnets with red hackles. They are wearing a webbing belt, blancoed khaki, with brass buckle and slides and Black Watch tartan kilts with large brown leather sporrans. On the sporran is the figure of St Andrew, holding a cross, known as a "Jimmy." They are wearing red and black diced hose, red flashes and brogues with white buttoned spats.

The battledress has a Black Watch badge, on the shoulder, in Black Watch tartan.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Jack Erskine
Location: Perth
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Jack Erskine private collection


A Black Watch tartan kilt

Exhibition Image One

Description

The kilt is made of 9 yards of heavy felted wool in dark blue, black and dark green colours, with narrow black "tramlines."

The pleats, at the back, are barrel pleated.

The tartan has been worn by The Black Watch since the 1740s.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


"Empire Fowey" berthing card

Exhibition Image One

Description

Jack Erskine's Berthing Card for his trip on the "Empire Fowey."

He sailed with his detachment of Black Watch National Servicemen from Southampton to Hong Kong in 1952.

The ship had been built in 1936 for the Hamburg America Line and named “Potsdam.” In 1945 the ship was seized by the British as a prize. It was refitted as a troopship in Northern Ireland by the Ministry of War Transport. It was renamed “Empire Fowey” and managed by P & O.

In 1955 the Crown owned 5 troopships, managed by P & O and a further five ships were on long charters.

“Empire Fowey” was used as a troopship until 1957. It was then leased and later sold to a Pakistani shipping company. It was renamed Safina-e-Hujjaj and was in service until 1976.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Jack Erskine
Location: Southampton, Hampshire
Original Source: Courtesy of Jack Erskine private collection


"Empire Fowey"

Exhibition Image One

Description

"Empire Fowey" was one of ten “Empire” ships that were used as troop carriers by the British Army.

Corporal Derek Halley and Jack Erskine sailed with a detachment of Black Watch National Servicemen from Southampton to Hong Kong in 1952.

The ship had been built in 1936 for the Hamburg America Line and named “Potsdam.” In 1945 the ship was seized by the British as a prize. It was refitted as a troopship in Northern Ireland by the Ministry of War Transport. It was renamed “Empire Fowey” and managed by P & O.

In 1955 the Crown owned 5 troopships, managed by P & O and a further five ships were on long charters.

“Empire Fowey” was used as a troopship until 1957. It was then leased and later sold to a Pakistani shipping company. It was renamed Safina-e-Hujjaj and was in service until 1976.

Source

Date: 1952
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Southampton to Hong Kong
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


Harry Ellis recalls being called up for National Service

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Description

1953. Dundee, Angus. Harry Ellis describes how he didn't have to go to Kenya with The Black Watch for his National Service.

Biography

Harry Ellis was born in Dundee in 1932. His father died in 1940. His mother had taken in lodgers during the war. He began working as a mechanic in a jute mill. As an only son, he could have been exempt from joining The Black Watch in Kenya. Like his father he was a piper.

Transcript

Well, you know, I was in Queen's Barracks, and I was sent to Kenya and I was put in the Pipes and Drums [of The Black Watch.]

My mother had phoned up and said "My laddie doesn't have to go." But there was some sort of agreement. It's a long time ago and I can't remember. Anyway I was sent out. And the Colonel had said "Oh, you'll get your knees brown, you know. Go and get your knees brown. You're not going to stay in Scotland all the rest of your time."

So, it was a very good experience going to Kenya, you know. It was nothing like they've got in Iraq. It was more like a picnic; more like a holiday.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Harry Ellis
Location: Dundee
Original Source: Harry Ellis video interview 2nd December 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Trams in Dundee

Exhibition Image One

Description

Dundee, like many other Scottish cities, had an extensive tram network

Source

Date: 1930s
Contributor: National Museum of Scotland, Museum of Life Archive
Location: Dundee
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of the National Museum of Scotland, Museum of Life Archive through SCRAN 000-000-706-382-R


The Black Watch Pipes and Drums, Kenya, 1954

Exhibition Image One

Description

The Pipes and Drums of the1st Battalion The Black Watch at Gilgil, Kenya.

The Pipes and Drums are led by the Drum Major with his mace. There are twelve pipes. Harry Ellis is the tall piper in the centre, two in from the second row. There is a base drummer; two tenor drummers and four side drummers.

The soldiers are all wearing khaki drill shirts, dark blue Tam O’ Shanter bonnets (TOS) with red hackles. They are wearing black leather belts with metal buckles; kilts and large brown leather sporrans; khaki hose, red flashes and boots with puttees, with white tapes, wound around the ankle.

The Black Watch was honoured as the Royal Highland Regiment in 1756 and so the pipers wear Royal Stewart tartan kilts. Their pipe bags are covered in Black Watch tartan. The drummers wear Black Watch tartan kilts.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Elizabeth Irwin
Location: Gilgil, Kenya
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Irwin private collection


A Black Watch piper's kilt

Exhibition Image One

Description

The kilt is made of nine yards of Royal Stewart tartan. The narrow pleats, on the left, are pleated to the central white line in the sett. This makes the back of the kilt look quite different from the apron of the kilt. The top of the kilt is edged in green tape. There are loops to hang the kilt.

In 1756 the Black Watch was honoured by the King as the Royal Highland Regiment. From that time pipers wore the Royal Stewart tartan.

The kilt is a Ministry of Defence sample kilt, with a label at the top. It has never been worn. The pleats are still stitched together.

Source

Date: 1980
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Harry Ellis plays Heilan' Laddie

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Description

Harry Ellis plays Heilan' Laddie, The Black Watch march

Source

Date: 2008
Contributor: Harry Ellis
Location: Perth
Original Source: Harry Ellis video interview 2nd December 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Jim Anderson recalls being called up for National Service

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Description

1953. Forfar, Angus. Jim Anderson describes how he was happy to get away to serve with The Black Watch in the Army

Biography

Jim Anderson was born in Forfar, Angus in 1935. His father and grandfather were bakers. He was an apprentice baker. He was happy to get away from baking and Forfar. He signed on for three years as a Regular Soldier in The Black Watch to earn more pay.

Transcript

Well, it; I knew it was inevitable. I mean, it had to be done. There was no way out of it, really. And I wasn't happy in my working life and I was glad that I could make a break. I knew it had to be done. And there was a bit of adventure in it as well.

Of course you had to get; you had to pass a medical. You had to be fit to get shot at, you see. But all in all, I was glad that the time had come, because I could, once it was finished, I could move on with my life again. And as I say, there was no alternative.

Three years. I volunteered for three years, because there was more money, and things like that, you know. Conditions were much the same, but you could be miserable and - with more money to spend.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Jim Anderson
Location: Forfar, Angus
Original Source: Jim Anderson video interview 2nd December 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Forfar Bridies, 1950s

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Description

Forfar bakers were famous for making Forfar bridies.

Jim Anderson's father and grandfather were both bakers in Forfar.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Newsquest (Herald Times)
Location: Forfar, Angus
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Newsquest (Herald Times) through SCRAN 000-000-119-245-R


High Street Forfar, 1950s

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Description

The High Street, Forfar.

Jim Anderson was happy to get away from Forfar to join The Black Watch.

Source

Date: 1950
Contributor: Scotsman Publications
Location: Forfar, Angus
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Scotsman Publications through SCRAN 000-000-056-710-R


Queen Elizabeth inspects recruits

Exhibition Image One

Description

Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI, inspecting Black Watch recruits at Queen’s Barracks, Perth, in the pouring rain. The Queen was Colonel in Chief of the Black Watch and took a great interest in the Regiment. She wears a silver Black Watch brooch. One of the Queen’s Bowes-Lyon brothers had been killed in World War One serving with the Black Watch.

The recruits wear khaki felted wool battledress, canvas gaiters and black boots. They wear khaki Tam O’ Shanter bonnets with red hackles – the worse for wear in the rain.

The soldier on the right is a corporal and wears two stripes on his sleeve. The older soldier next to him wears a medal ribbon, the Defence Medal, earned for serving with the Home Guard.

The officers wear Service Dress jackets and brown leather Sam Browne belts. They wear Black Watch tartan kilts with green bows on the apron and leather sporrans. They wear Lovat green hose with red flashes and black brogues. They carry canes with silver knobs.

Source

Date: 1940s
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Perth
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Jim Anderson as a recruit

Exhibition Image One

Description

Jim Anderson as a Black Watch recruit.

He is wearing a khaki felted wool battledress blouses, opened at the collar, with khaki shirt and tie and a Tam O’ Shanter bonnet with red hackle. He is wearing a webbing belt, blancoed khaki, with brass buckle and slides; a Black Watch tartan kilt with large brown leather sporran. On the sporran is the figure of St Andrew, holding a cross, known as a "Jimmy." He is wearing red and black diced hose, red flashes and brogues with white buttoned spats.

The battledress has a Black Watch badge, on the shoulder, in Black Watch tartan.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Jim Anderson
Location: Perth
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Jim Anderson private collection


Jim Anderson at Military Tattoo in Dundee

Exhibition Image One

Description

Jim Anderson was a tall, smart soldier. He took part in a Military Tattoo in Dundee. He is the central of the three figures.

The Black Watch soldiers are wearing green No1 Dress jackets with brass Black Watch buttons. The jackets have white piping on the collar, cuffs and flaps. They soldiers are wearing Black Watch tartan kilts with large white, horse hair sporrans with five black tassels; black and red checked hose with red flashes and brogues, with white buttoned spats. They are wearing feather bonnets with tall red hackles.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Jim Anderson
Location: Dundee
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Jim Anderson private collection


A Black Watch feather bonnet

Exhibition Image One

Description

The feathers started as decoration to a bonnet with a diced border, in North America in the 1750s. The feathers got taller and eventually were made into a bonnet with a frame, with six "fox tails" of feathers on the right side.

The bonnet has a red, black and white dice border and a black cockade. The badge is the Sphinx, given as an honour to The Black Watch in Egypt in 1798. There is a tall red hackle. This was first worn in North America in the Revolutionary War.

The bonnet stands on its own tall metal box painted black with red flecks.

Source

Date: 1930s
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


A Black Watch No 1 Dress jacket

Exhibition Image One

Description

In the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s No 1 Dress jackets in the British army were scarlet. From then on scarlet jackets were still occasionally worn in Review Order and by the drummers of the Pipes and Drums.

After the Second World War scarlet jackets were replaced by dark green No 1 Dress jackets.

This officer’s jacket is buttoned with six brass buttons bearing the Black Watch badge. The jacket has a stand up collar with the figure of St Andrew holding his cross.

The jacket has flaps at the front and back with three lines of piping and brass buttons. The cuffs are edged with piping and have three lines of piping and brass buttons. The piping is gold for officers and white for other ranks.

On the shoulder of the jacket are twisted gold cords. The one on the left has a crown to denote the rank of major.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Bob Mitchell recalls being called up for National Service

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Description

1954. Brechin, Angus. Bob Mitchell describes how his National Service with The Black Watch was deferred until he had finished his apprenticeship

Biography

Bob Mitchell was born in Brechin, Angus, in 1934. After leaving school he became an apprentice joiner. His call up was deferred until he had finished his apprenticeship

Transcript

Well, as I say, I was brought up from five with everybody going to the; well everybody going to the Army, that was capable of going. So it was something that was there all the time. You knew that you were going to have to go. Every young lad had to go. So, it was something that didn't come out of the blue.

Had it not been National Service, I doubt if I would have went to the military, like, but I was quite happy to go and do what had to be done.

We had to; every young man had to register when they were 18, or coming up to 18. There was a period, you know, three months. Anybody given 18 and within that time, had to register at the Labour Exchange. And it was taken from there.

And, but if you were an apprentice, or were doing full time education or certain, certain occupations were exempt. And in our case, an apprenticeship, you got a deferment until your apprenticeship was over. So that meant I was 20 years of age before, before I went into the Army. Most young men were 18.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Brechin, Angus
Original Source: Bob Mitchell video interview 2nd December 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Bob Mitchell at school

Exhibition Image One

Description

Bob Mitchell was born in Brechin, Angus, in 1934.

Bob Mitchell at school in 1942. He is on the right in the back row.

Source

Date: 1942
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Brechin, Angus
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


Bob Mitchell, the apprentice

Exhibition Image One

Description

Bob Mitchell was born in Brechin, Angus, in 1934. He became an apprentice joiner when he left school at the age of 15. He finished his five year apprenticeship in 1954.

Source

Date: 1948
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Brechin, Angus
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


Has everyone got a brush, shoe, small ?

Exhibition Image One

Description

Sergeant Gruar holds up a small shoe brush for new Black Watch National Service recruits, at Queen’s Barracks, Perth. The recruits have emptied their kit bags to see what kit their have. Note how they are all wearing suits, shirts and ties.

Sergeant Gruar and the officers are wearing khaki Service Dress jackets and Black Watch tartan trews, white spats and black brogues. Sergeant Gruar has three stripes on his sleeves and wears a red sash to denote that he is duty sergeant. The officers wear brown leather Sam Browne belts and carry canes with silver knobs. All wear blue Glengarry bonnets with the Black Watch badge.

Captain Hitchman, right, wears two rows of World War Two and Korean medal ribbons on his chest.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: DC Thomson
Location: Perth
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch and DC Thomson


Bob Mitchell as a recruit at Perth

Exhibition Image One

Description

Bob Mitchell, second right, as a Black Watch recruit.

He is wearing a khaki felted wool battledress blouse, opened at the collar, with khaki shirt and tie and a dark blue Tam O’ Shanter bonnet with red hackle. He is wearing a webbing belt, blancoed khaki, with brass buckle and slides and a Black Watch tartan kilt with a new issue leather sporran with a brass cantle. The sporran was blancoed white. In the centre was a metal figure of St Andrew holding his cross, known as a "Jimmy." He is wearing red and black diced hose, red flashes and brogues with white buttoned spats.

The battledress has a Black Watch badge, on the shoulder, in Black Watch tartan.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Perth
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


Bob Mitchell with his mates

Exhibition Image One

Description

Bob Mitchell, second right, with his mates from The Black Watch.

Note that all the young men wear suits, shirts and ties.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Perth
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


Alastair Masson recalls being called up for National Service

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Description

1953. Buckhaven, Fife. Alastair Masson describes how he took an aptitude test for the Royal Air Force

Biography

Alastair Masson was born in Buckhaven, Fife, in 1935. His father was the local police constable during the war. After leaving school, Alastair Masson entered the British Linen Bank, in Kirkcaldy, as a clerk.

Transcript

I received my induction papers - the [British Linen] Bank had no deferment from the point of view of apprentices, so in my case, my birthday was the 29th May, 1953; I received my call up papers and ultimately was inducted into the Air Force on the 24th July 1953.

We went to Dean Park Hotel, Queensferry Road, Edinburgh, for the medical. Because first of all they had to establish whether you were fit. Second, when you were there we were given various aptitude tests to establish basic intelligence and because we were on the heels of the Korean War, then, there was a shortage of intake for the Air Force. There was a very small intake into the Navy. But a lot of chaps had been taken between 1951 and 1953 into the Army.

Sufficient unto the day, was that I seemed to pass the aptitude test that fitted me for being taken into the Air Force. Because they had been short of personnel; for a couple of years.

You're allowed - the thing with the Services, that "volunteer"['s] a word that disappeared pretty rapidly. You basically went where you were sent. But the course we were on, which was basically wireless operator, teleprinter operator, and if you passed with 80% plus you were allowed to select where you might go. You were given the choice such as Bletchley Park in England, the base in Cyprus - I can't remember its name now - Habbaniya in Iraq and Hong Kong. That meant we came onto another station up near Birmingham which was a multi-service school for coders; Navy coders, Army intelligence and ourselves, to be trained up to go to a specific station - whichever it happened to be. To prepare us in actual fact for the job we're going to do for the next 12 months.

And that really was the sum and substance of it. So, because Her Majesty was paying for it, we all decided in that situation to go to Hong Kong. Sadly - I may come on to that - it didn't transpire. We finished up, we went to Iraq instead.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Scotland and England
Original Source: Alastair Masson video interview 25th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


RAF Transport Command

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Description

A twin engined Dakota of Royal Air Force Transport Command at Royal Air Force Lyneham, Wiltshire.

The Douglas DC3 Dakota was developed in the USA in the 1930s. It revolutionised air transportation. It became possible to fly across the USA in 16 or 17 hours.

Eventually powered by two Pratt & Witney R-1830 engines, some 10,000 aircraft were built for the US military. Other Allies used the plane as well.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Lyneham, Wiltshire
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Alastair Masson private collection


Flight from Lyneham, England

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Description

Alastair Masson, back left, and the boys about to leave RAF Lyneham for Iraq.

The airmen are wearing blue Service Dress jackets, with brass RAF buttons, fixed around the waist with a cloth belt. They are wearing pale blue shirts and black ties. Four of the men are wearing blue caps with a black band and visor. Two are wearing blue berets. All wear the Royal Air Force badge, "RAF" surrounded by leaves.

The airmen had been trained as wireless operators. They are wearing wireless operator badges on their right arms. Two airmen, at the front right, are also air mechanics and are wearing propeller badges.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Lyneham, Wiltshire
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Alastair Masson private collection


Wireless Watch, Habbaniya

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Description

The wireless "Watch" at RAF Habbaniya Air Base, Iraq. Alastair Masson is second left in the back row.

The airmen are wearing khaki drill jackets, with RAF buttons, fixed at the waist with a cloth belt. They are wearing shorts and blue hose. Some of the men are wearing shirts. Most of the airmen are wearing blue Berets with the RAF badge. Five men are wearing khaki drill caps with long peaks.

Each wireless Watch was on duty for eight hours and was relieved by another watch. One of the watches was always listening out for Soviet radio traffic in the border area north of Iran.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Habbaniya, Iraq
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Alastair Masson private collection


Stepping out with the boys

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Description

Alastair Masson, back right, and the boys dressed up for a night out.

Notice that everyone wear suits, shirts and ties.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Habbaniya, Iraq
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Alastair Masson private collection


Ian Agnew recalls having no choice about joining a unit for National Service

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1951. England. Ian Agnew describes how he was selected to become a Russian language specialist

Biography

Ian Agnew was born in 1932. His father moved to London during the war to work for the BBC. Ian Agnew remembered the bombing of London. He went to school in England. He was a fine athlete and tennis player.

Ian Agnew could have deferred his National Service to go to University. He decided to join up. He was selected for a Russian course. In the early1950s, there was a growing threat from the Soviet Union. The British Services were giving intense training to National Servicemen in understanding, speaking and translating Russian.

Transcript

In May 1951. No, not to begin with. No, you were simply drafted into - I think there were probably a lot of young people in the Army barracks and headquarters nearest to where you were living and I lived in Surrey and the headquarters were in Guilford, a major city in Surrey.

[The Commanding Officer] he informed me that there was a Government initiative with the Services, to invite a number of young people in all three forces; Air Force, Navy, Royal Navy and Army, who had studied languages to a fairly high degree at school, whether they’d be interested in joining a course which they hoped would start to train people to be Russian interpreters. So I accepted that.

Because we were in the middle of what was called, and you've probably heard of the "Cold War." And Berlin was occupied by the four major forces at the end of the War. Russia, French, British and German - and American. And during the ensuing years there was a lot of tension. The question then of the [Berlin] blockade when the other three participating forces, through their aircraft had to bring lots of supplies and relief into Berlin. And that’s when the Government felt that hostilities might break out again and a question of training people to be interpreters.

Source

Date: 1951
Contributor: Ian Agnew
Location: England
Original Source: Ian Agnew video interview 25th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Russian Dictionary

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Description

The front page of Ian Agnew's battered Russian Dictionary. The cover has long since been lost.

Ian Agnew had to learn 30 Russian words a day from this Dictionary.

Ian Agnew was selected to go to Cambridge for an intense, yearlong Russian language course during his National Service.

The Soviet threat of invasion in Berlin and Germany was considered very real. The British Government initiated a special programme to train National Servicemen, from all the Forces, as Russian interpreters. Their job would be to listen into Soviet wireless traffic and to translate messages and information into English.

Due to severe illness, Ian Agnew ended up in hospital. He never joined the Intelligence Service, nor did he use his Russian in listening out to Soviet wireless messages and broadcasts.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Ian Agnew
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of Ian Agnew private collection


The end of National Service

Most men served in Britain during their National Service. The National Servicemen recorded here, therefore, were unusual in that most of them served abroad.

Derek Halley and Jack Erskine served in The Black Watch in the Korean War and then in the Kenyan Emergency. They were awarded three campaign medals.

Harry Ellis served in the Kenyan Emergency as a piper in The Black Watch.

Jim Anderson and Bob Mitchell served in The Black Watch in the Kenyan Emergency and then in Berlin.

A great many National Servicemen had been sent into the Army during the Korean War. Alastair Masson was therefore conscripted into the Royal Air Force as a wireless operator. He served in intelligence in Iraq.

Ian Agnew, because of his language skills, was trained as a Russian interpreter. Severe illness prevented him from using his skills.

Many National Servicemen valued their National Service and found that it changed their lives. Some of them, at first, felt unsure of themselves out of uniform. Many men made lasting friendships. All were proud to have served with their units.




Derek Halley recalls being offered the rank of sergeant

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1954. Kenya. Derek Halley describes how only a few Black Watch National Servicemen fought in two

Biography

Derek Halley was born near Crieff, Perthshire, in 1933. He was called up in 1952. He joined 1st Battalion The Black Watch and was sent to Korea. He was promoted corporal. He led a section and fought off the Chinese at the Second Battle of the Hook. He was then sent to Kenya to patrol in the mountains.

Long after he had returned to civilian life, Derek Halley still felt bitter that the efforts of National Servicemen had not been recognised. He wrote a book of his experiences called "Iron Claw."

Transcript

Oh, yes. They would offer you anything to stay in [the Army.]

Ah, but in these days. But no, I was a home bird. Perhaps I might have; should have stayed in. I had friends who stayed in, but, no, I was only a two year man at that time.

Yes, we didn't all of a sudden drop out [the Army] and that was it. We had the Territorial stint to do. They brought us back at weekends to look after some of the boys.

I missed the company a lot; an awful lot, that. Going back to what I did as a shepherd. And there was nobody there except sheep. They don't talk back to you.

[Is the Korean War remembered?] Absolutely not. That's something I've been on about for a long number of years. To this day they don't know anything about it. I mean, it wasn't war time. Had it been wartime I probably [would] never [have] written anything. But it was; didn't - we had no war then.

Only two - ONE Regiment [The Black Watch] ever did two campaigns at National; during National Service years. Back to back. That's going from one war to another. And that was Korea to Kenya. Only one Regiment ever did it.

And there were; of all the National Servicemen; there was something like three million plus National Servicemen; there was only - I say 40, but make it 100; 100 National Servicemen ever went into two campaigns out of three million people.

[I think of Korea] Every day. Never a day passes when you go to shave in the morning; you're wondering if the shaving brush has got ice on it or not. Yes.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Scotland and Korea
Original Source: Derek Halley video interview 18th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Derek Halley as a Territorial soldier

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Description

Derek Halley, after his National Service, had to serve in the Territorial Army. He served in the 6th/7th Battalion The Black Watch. He was in A Company, based in Crieff. The Company was full of former sergeants and corporals. So he was only a private soldier.

He is wearing a khaki felted wool battledress blouses, opened at the collar, with khaki shirt and tie and a Tam O’ Shanter bonnet with red hackle. He is wearing a webbing belt, blancoed khaki, with brass buckle and slides and a Black Watch tartan kilt with large brown leather sporran. On the sporran is the figure of St Andrews, holding a cross, known as a "Jimmy." He is wearing red and black diced hose, red flashes and brogues with white buttoned spats.

Derek Halley is wearing the ribbons of his two Korean and one Kenyan medals.

Source

Date: 1956
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Crieff, Perthshire
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


United Nations Korean medal

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Description

The medals shows the United Nations emblem of the world surrounded by olive branches. The ribbon is in United nations colours of blue and white. On the clasp is the word KOREA.

Derek Halley, with Jack Erskine, was one of only 40, perhaps as many as 100, National Servicemen out of three million who served in two campaigns back to back. He served with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch in Korea in 1952-53. He received the British Korean medal, with a yellow and blue ribbon. He also received the United Nations medal with a clasp marked Korea. All the forces in Korea were fighting under a United Nations mandate.

Derek Halley also served in the Kenyan Emergency with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch in 1953-54. He received the Africa Medal with a black and yellow ribbon and with a clasp marked Kenya.

Source

Date: 1953
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Korea
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


"Iron Claw"

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Description

Derek Halley wrote a book about his time with The Black Watch in the Korean War. He called it "Iron Claw."

Derek Halley started the book in response to the public reaction to the hardships of the soldiers who had fought in the Falklands War in 1982.

He wrote about his training in Scotland; his time preparing for the war in Hong Kong and Japan. He wrote about life in the front line in Korea and about being attacked by the Chinese.

Source

Date: 1988
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Crieff, Perthshire
Original Source: Courtesy of Derek Halley


Derek Halley and the Prince of Wales

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Description

Derek Halley met the Prince of Wales after he had written his book "Iron Claw."

Source

Date: 1990s
Contributor: Derek Halley
Location: Perth
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Derek Halley private collection


Jack Erskine recalls the end of his National Service

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1954. Kenya. Jack Erskine describes his feelings about leaving The Black Watch at the end of his National Service

Biography

Jack Erskine was born in Lochgelly in January 1931. He served his apprenticeship as a blacksmith. He insisted on joining The Black Watch for his National Service. He was sent to Korea, where he drove Oxford Carriers. He also went to Kenya. He returned to Kenya as a civilian. He later came back to Scotland. He went back to being a blacksmith and farrier near Kinross.

Transcript

Yes and no. I was glad to be, to be out because, I wanted to be a civilian, but at the same time you were losing a lot, an awful lot of friends, so that you wouldn't see again, you know.

I have kept up in touch with a lot of them but some, some of them came from Inverness, the Western Isles, you know, so you never see them again. I tried to keep in touch with as many as I can. Still do; still see them as often as I can, Yes.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Jack Erskine
Location: Scotland
Original Source: Jack Erskine video interview 18th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Contaminated water

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Description

Jack Erskine, left, in a reserve area in Korea with a Black Watch friend.

Source

Date: 1953
Contributor: Jack Erskine
Location: Korea
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Jack Erskine private collection


Kenyan swimming party

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Description

Jack Erskine, right front, going off swimming with his Black Watch mates in Kenya.

The soldiers mostly are wearing khaki drill shirts and trousers, khaki Tam O’ Shanters with red hackles, boots and ankle gaiters. The Corporal, in the centre, is wearing a dark blue Glengarry bonnet with Black Watch badge. The soldier, at the front left, is wearing a dark blue Tam O’ Shanter with a red hackle.

Source

Date: 1954
Contributor: Jack Erskine
Location: Kenya
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Jack Erskine private collection


Harry Ellis recalls how the Pipes and Drums were going to America

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1955. Kenya. Harry Ellis describes how he was almost persuaded to stay on in the Pipes and Drums of The Black Watch

Biography

Harry Ellis was born in Dundee in 1932. His father died in 1940. As an only son, he could have been exempt from joining The Black Watch in Kenya. Like his father he was a piper. He piped all over Kenya at Country Clubs and functions. He piped in Zanzibar for the Sultan. He returned to Scotland and worked in the jute industry. He served in the Territorial Army and became Pipe Major of the 4th/5th Battalion The Black Watch.

Transcript

Well they [the band] were going away to America after this, [Kenya] so you see they were going to buy drums. And I was due some money I was to get from playing in Country Clubs. And I went in front of the Company Commander and I said "Now I'm getting demobbed, I could do with some, some dosh, you see." He says, "No, it's going to buy drums for the [Band] - we're going to America. You want to - sign on?" I said "I've got an old mother back home. She's worried about me all the time, you see. I'm an only child. So."

I went back into the jute mills as a mechanic. They had to take you back, you see. If you left there, they had to take you back for six months. Then I moved to another - there was some old men working to augment their pension. They didn't have much in those days. So I thought, I'll leave, because these guys were going to get paid off. So, there was plenty of jobs, anyway, so I left and got another job and I moved around.

And I had to join the T.A. [Territorial Army] you see. I had to do three years with the T.A. 4th/5th [Battalion] Black Watch and it was in Bell Street. [Dundee] It's all away now. That was the; and I was made a Lance Corporal - dizzy height - then finally Pipe Major, which was only an appointment really.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Harry Ellis
Location: Kenya and Dundee
Original Source: Harry Ellis video interview 2nd December 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


The Masai warrior

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Description

Piper Harry Ellis, right, and a friend with a Masai warrior.

The pipers are wearing "No 1 Dress." They are wearing green jackets with white piping and Black Watch buttons, on the cuffs and flaps. The jackets have bandsmen's "wings" on the shoulders. They are wearing black leather belts and cross belts with metal buckles.

The Black Watch was honoured as the Royal Highland Regiment in 1756, and so the pipers of the Regiment are wearing kilts and folded shoulder plaids of Royal Stewart tartan. The plaids are pinned at the shoulder with a circular brooch. The pipers are wearing long white, horse hair sporrans with metal tops and five black tassels. They are wearing black and red diced hose, red flashes and brogues with white buttoned gaiters.

They are carrying their pipes, folded, under their left arms.

The Masai warrior was only 14 years old, but was almost as tall at Harry Ellis who was more than six foot tall.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Kenya
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Masai arrows

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Description

These two wooden quivers bound in leather were collected in Kenya. Each quiver holds a handful of wooden arrows with large barbed metal points. The arrows have feathered flights.

Source

Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Kenya
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Pipers of the 4th/5th Battalion The Black Watch

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Description

Three Pipers are leading Territorial soldiers of the 4th/5th Battalion The Black Watch on a march. Harry Ellis is the tall piper on the left.

The soldiers are all wearing khaki felted wool battledress, Tam O’ Shanter bonnets with red hackles, boots and ankle gaiters.

National Servicemen had to complete three years in the Territorial Army after their two years of the service.

Harry Ellis was promoted Lance Corporal in the Pipes and Drums. Eventually he was appointed Pipe Major.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Elizabeth Irwin
Location: Elizabeth Irwin
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Elizabeth Irwin private collection


The Black Watch march to the River Dee

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Description

Men of the 4th/5th Battalion The Black Watch marched over the mountains to the River Dee.

In Glenmuick the Territorial soldiers appear out of the mist to pass Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She was Colonel in Chief of The Black Watch for over 60 years. She always took a great interest in the Regiment. One of her Bowes-Lyon brothers was killed in World War One serving with The Black Watch.

The piper, wearing a poncho, is Harry Ellis.

The soldiers wear ponchos, Tom O' Shanter bonnets; Black Watch tartan kilts; hose and boots with puttees wound round the ankle.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Glenmuick, Aberdeenshire
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


The Black Watch Association

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Description

Members of The Black Watch Association meeting in Dundee.

Harry Ellis is in the front, centre, wearing tartan trews. Bob Mitchell is in the first standing row, third from the right.

Source

Date: 1990s
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Dundee
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


Harry Ellis plays Scotland the Brave

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Harry Ellis plays Scotland the Brave

Source

Date: 2008
Contributor: Harry Ellis
Location: Perth
Original Source: Harry Ellis video interview 2nd December 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Bob Mitchell recalls the Suez Crisis in 1956

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1956. Berlin. Bob Mitchell describes how he felt insecure in "Civvy Street" after leaving the Black Watch

Biography

Bob Mitchell was born in Brechin, Angus, in 1934. After leaving school, he became an apprentice joiner. He served with The Black Watch in Kenya and Berlin. He was promoted corporal. He was demobbed in 1956 at the time of the Suez Crisis and the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian Uprising. He returned to Scotland to continue his trade. He moved to Forfar. He is a keen supporter of The Black Watch Association in Angus. He helps with carpentry work at the Museum of The Black Watch.

Transcript

Well by the time, by the time it came out, [the Suez Crisis] I was actually demobbed and had been demobbed a couple of months or thereabouts. And from my point of view I know; I knew that there were people being recalled and I was, I was desperate to be recalled. Because, having come back from the Army to Brechin, all my mates were away. Some of them doing National Service; others had moved away for different reasons and I was absolutely lost at that time.
And, well, you missed the company; your mates in the Army; because you were 24 hours a day with them, you know, and I was desperately hoping that I would be recalled for Suez, but that didn't happen.

[National Service] It was hard at times and at times you'd have been anywhere else, but, but overall it was a great experience. It was just - and it separated the men from the sheep and most, most of the guys grew up quite a lot, you know. It was a great experience.

The camaraderie was first class. And being a Regiment like The Black Watch, you definitely got a family feeling about it. They speak of The Black Watch family. And, you know, it is there. It is there.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Scotland
Original Source: Bob Mitchell video interview 2nd December 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Corporal Mitchell goes to Berlin

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Description

Corporal Bob Mitchell looking anxious as he arrives with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch in Berlin in 1955.

Bob Mitchell is wearing a khaki felted wool great coat with two stripes on his sleeve. He is wearing a Tam O’ Shanter bonnet with red hackle. He is wearing a webbing belt and shoulder straps, with a large pack on his back and a small pack on his hip. He is carrying all his gear in his kit bag on his right shoulder. He carries a Sten sub machine gun on a long strap.

Like any good Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) he is carrying a clip board with orders.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Berlin, Germany
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Forces Corner

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Description

"Forces Corner" appeared regularly in the Dundee Courier.

The soldiers featured were Lance Corporal Alex Anderson, with the Royal Engineers in Cyprus, and Corporal Robert Mitchell and Lance Corporal James Shepherd, of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch, arriving in Berlin.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Berlin, Germany
Original Source: Courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


Guard of Honour, Berlin

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Description

The1st Battalion The Black Watch mounting a Guard of Honour for General Rome at the Olympic Stadium, Berlin, 1955.

Bob Mitchell is sixth from the right, the first with a Kenyan medal. The officer accompanying the general is Captain Ian Critchley.

Bob Mitchell is wearing a khaki felted wool battledress blouse, opened at the collar, with khaki shirt and tie and a dark blue Tam O’ Shanter bonnet with red hackle. He is wearing a webbing belt, blancoed khaki, with brass buckle and slides and a Black Watch tartan kilt with a new issue leather sporran with a brass cantle. The sporran was blancoed white. In the centre was a metal figure of St Andrew holding his cross, known as a "Jimmy." He is wearing red and black diced hose, red flashes and brogues with white buttoned spats.

The battledress has a Black Watch badge, on the shoulder, in Black Watch tartan with a Divisional sign below.

General Rome is saluting the Regimental Colour of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch as he passes.

The officers are wearing khaki Service dress jackets and brown leather Sam Browne belts. They are wearing long white horse hair sporrans with five black tassels. They care carrying Highland broadswords, with basket hilts, in their left hands.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Berlin
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


The Black Watch Colours

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Description

The Colours of the 1st Battalion The Black Watch.

The King's Colour, on the left, is the Union flag. The Regimental Colour is royal blue. The Black Watch was honoured by the King in 1756 as The Royal Highland Regiment.

Both Colours bear the Imperial Crown and some of the Regiment's Battle Honours. The royal cipher GviR can be seen in the corner of the Regimental colour.

The Colours embody the spirit of the Regiment and are the rallying point in time of battle. The Colours are carried by junior Lieutenants who used to be called Ensigns.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Perth
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch


Bob Mitchell with Lieutenant Colonel David Rose

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Description

Bob Mitchell, right, at the Museum of The Black Watch in Perth, with Lieutenant Colonel David Rose.

David Rose commanded the Depot of The Black Watch in Perth in 1953, when Derek Halley was a recruit. He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel that year and went out to Korea. He commanded the 1st Battalion The Black Watch in Korea at the First and Second Battles of The Hook. He was Derek Halley and Jack Erskine's commanding officer in Korea.

David Rose commanded the 1st Battalion The Black Watch in Kenya in 1953. He was Derek Halley, Jack Erskine, Bob Mitchell, Jim Anderson and Harry Ellis's commanding officer in Kenya.

All three soldiers are wearing Black Watch ties in wine red, green and dark blue.

Source

Date: 2004
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Perth
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


Black Watch Veterans march, Dundee

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Description

Bob Mitchell, on the right, marching with Black Watch veterans in Dundee. He wears a dark blue Glengarry bonnet with Black Watch badge. He wears his Kenya medal, Black Watch tie and Black Watch tartan trews.

Harry Ellis is towards the rear, in a fawn suit. He also wears a dark blue Glengarry bonnet. Most of the other Black Watch veterans wear dark blue Tam O’ Shanter bonnets with red hackles.

Source

Date: 2000
Contributor: Bob Mitchell
Location: Dundee
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Bob Mitchell private collection


Alastair Masson recalls being offered an extension to his National Service

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1955. Habbaniya, Iraq. Alastair Masson describes how he was offered an extension to his National Service in the Royal Air Force

Biography

Alastair Masson was born in Buckhaven, Fife, in 1935. His father was the local police constable during the war. After leaving school, Alastair Masson entered the British Linen Bank in Kirkcaldy as a clerk. He was sent to the Royal Air Force. He was selected as a wireless operator. He was sent to Iraq to listen to Soviet wireless transmissions over the Iranian border.

Transcript

Yes, there was an interview held. It must have been about - I'm going on memory now - about a month, maybe two months, before we were going to finish up. [our National Service] A very pleasant Flight Lieutenant - who apologised for so doing, because he probably realised that was going to happen - suggested to us that it might be a good way of life; to stay in the Air Force; to sign on as a Regular. Unfortunately he was rejected to a man, because by that time most of us had decided that the Services' way of life was not for us. We were, we were quite happy to go back into civilian life.

Most of us were going back into employment because the National Service Act proscribed that where you were taken in from an employment, the employer had to take you back for six months after you came home, assuming that you wanted to come home and settle back into your previous employment.

Source

Date: 1950s
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Habbaniya, Iraq
Original Source: Alastair Masson video interview 25th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Statement of Service

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Description

25999998 Alastair Masson's Royal Air Force Brief Statement of Service, dated 8th July 1955.

Alastair Masson served his National Service with the Royal Air Force from 24th July 1953 to 22nd August 1955. He was trained and worked as a Wireless Operator in "receiving and transmitting Morse signals in any conditions of interference, maintaining operational records and erecting receiving aerial systems."

His conduct was Exemplary; his ability as a tradesman was Very Good; his leadership and co-operation were Good. His bearing was Smart.

He was a "Conscientious and competent operator. Smart both on and off duty and stays cheerful in trying circumstances. Recommended." W.J.Merrick, Flight Lieutenant, commanding No 276 Signals Unit, RAF Habbaniya.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Habbaniya, Iraq
Original Source: Courtesy of Alastair Masson private collection


Notice of Enlistment in the Royal Air Force Reserve

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Description

Alastair Masson was released from the Royal Air Force at "A" Squadron No 5 P.D.C. RAF Innsworth on 29th July 1955.

Notice was given him that he was then enlisted into the Royal Air Force Reserve, RAF 'Durn' Isla Road Perth.

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Innsworth, England
Original Source: Courtesy of Alastair Masson private collection


Alastair Masson recalls his National Service

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1955. Habbaniya, Iraq. Alastair Masson describes how he grew up during his National Service in the Royal Air Force

Biography

Alastair Masson was born in Buckhaven, Fife, in 1935. His father was the local Police Constable during the war. After leaving school, Alastair Masson entered the British Linen Bank in Kirkcaldy as a clerk. He was sent to the Royal Air Force. He was selected as a wireless operator. He was sent to Iraq to listen to Soviet wireless transmissions over the Iranian border. After his service, he returned to banking in Fife.

Transcript

I suppose the - taken as a whole; the fact that one was able to go abroad; the fact that, in actual fact, you grew up quite considerably; the fact that you met other people in similar circumstances, who, in actual fact, were prepared to accept that they were; they had a debt to pay to Society, in the sense that they had to go and serve in the Forces.

Once you learned to live within the system, you became very good friends with a lot of people as far as that was concerned.

Source

Date: 1954-55
Contributor: Alastair Masson
Location: Habbaniya, Iraq
Original Source: Alastair Masson video interview 25th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Friends in Iraq

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Description

Alastair Masson, centre back, with Royal Air Force National Service friends in Habbaniya, Iraq, 1954.

They are all wearing khaki drill jackets and trouser. On their sleeves, the airmen have wings, for the flyers; propellers for the aircraftsmen and wireless waves for the wireless operators.

What about the shades!

Source

Date: 1955
Contributor: Habbaniya, Iraq


Ian Agnew recalls how, having completed his Russian course, he became sick

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Description

1953. England. Ian Agnew describes how, during his National Service, he was struck down by rheumatic fever

Biography

Ian Agnew was born in 1932. His father moved to London. He went to school in England. He was a fine athlete and tennis player. He could have deferred his National Service to go to University. He decided, instead, to join up. He was selected for intense training in understanding, speaking and translating Russian. Having completed his training, he contracted rheumatic fever and was sent to hospital. He was discharged from the Army in May 1953.

Ian Agnew studied Russian and French at Cambridge University. He taught at Melville College, Edinburgh and George Heriot’s. He was Rector of Perth High School from 1975 to 1992. He has visited Russia on ten occasions.

Transcript

I'd only been there about a week or so and I caught a cold; a sore throat; reported sick and was confined to bed and eventually was sent to the nearest hospital, which - Service hospital - which was the Royal Navy hospital in Devonport, Plymouth. I had contracted rheumatic fever and I was in hospital for seven months. And there I remained until I was discharged, which was the end of this part of the story.

[My sickness] It totally altered the direction of what I could do immediately after being discharged and then in the future, bearing in mind that for five years the whole of my active life came to a halt. I wasn't allowed to take part in any active sport. I was a good athlete. I won the Army championship of the Regiment. I joined - I was a good tennis player. And I couldn't do anything for five years, which meant virtually the end of my sporting career.

And that therefore changed, in a sense of what was I going to do. And because I couldn't take part in anything energetic and active - the idea of returning to college to get a full degree in Russian and then perhaps to teach, if opportunity arose. I doubt if I would have become a teacher if I hadn't been ill in that way.

I made up my mind, once I decided to go into teaching, that I'd try and keep in active contact with the language. [Russian] You appreciate it was difficult speaking to Russians in this country - they were few and far between. So I made up a kind of plan, and to try and go [to Russia] every third year. And I succeeded in that. And I've been to Russia ten times. I keep in regular contact with friends there by telephone and by email. Write letters etc.

Never once did I divulge, nor was there any suspicion, that they were aware that I had participated in this particular activity [during National Service] And on the other side of the affair, when people asked me this - I was never once afraid all the time I was there. [in Russia] Remember for 30 years at the times I went , it was the Soviet Union before 1990 and this downfall of Communism and the separation of the individual Republics.

I was never once afraid.

Source

Date: 1950-2010
Contributor: Ian Agnew
Location: England and Russia
Original Source: Ian Agnew video interview 25th November 2008 Made by YMCA Perth Museum of The Black Watch


Ian Agnew in Red Square, Moscow

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Description

Ian Agnew in Red Square, Moscow. Behind him is Lenin’s Mausoleum in the wall of the Kremlin. Ian Agnew visited Russia ten times over the years.

Source

Date: 1980s
Contributor: Ian Agnew
Location: Red Square, Moscow, Russia
Original Source: Photograph courtesy of Ian Agnew private collection


Exhibition credits

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Description

THIS HAPPENS IN WAR is a partnership between the Museum of The Black Watch, YMCA Perth, Atholl Country Life Museum and The St Andrews Preservation Trust

Documents were provided by Jack Erskine, Derek Halley and Alastair Masson

Images were provided by Ian Agnew, Jim Anderson, Harry Ellis, Jack Erskine, Derek Halley, Elizabeth Irwin, Alastair Masson, Bob Mitchell, the Museum of The Black Watch, Newsquest, Scotsman Publications, the Scottish Motor Museum,

Objects were provided by Alastair Masson and the Museum of The Black Watch.

Pipe tunes were played by Harry Ellis.

Video interviews were made and edited by YMCA Perth with Ian Agnew, Jim Anderson, Harry Ellis, Jack Erskine, Derek Halley, Alastair Masson and Bob Mitchell.

Words by Ruari Halford-MacLeod.

Source

Date: 2009
Contributor: Museum of The Black Watch
Location: Dundee
Original Source: Courtesy of the Museum of The Black Watch