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Henry McMahon

HENRY McMAHON

 

Born in the hungry 30s 1932 to be precise this is a thatched cottage at Thankerton Toll,I remember the poles at the beginning of the war they slept on straw palansanis in a white cottage where my front bedroom is near ,and a sentry was on duty at the creamery gate

After this time everyone was  supplied with a gas mask . I was of the age where I was too old for orange juice and too young for fags so was given the grown type of mask at school we sometimes had to wear them while doing lessons .

We had evacuees from Glasgow who tried to bully us around and were so arrogant but we kept away from them wherever possible. One of the evacuees was called Sabritory Mori a fat soviet lad when the POW camp was being built my mother put up a young plumber from Loan head and he soldered her leaking wash basin .

Some one told me as I was walking up Mill Road it was called Millbrae Terrace when then that the train in the station was full of Italian prisoners .I climbed over the stile and a large wooden crane that was near to upload the railway wagons in the  siding and as the train pulled out I could see the prisoners with their jackets and trousers covered with matte coloured patches .Each one was carrying what looked like a lemonade bottle

I saw three soldiers guarding the camp that were swimming in the Clyde river where the boat farm and as the river narrowed the current swept one of them a non swimmer into the horse hole where he drowned where his body was recovered late Monday afternoon by Bob Parsonage who was renowned for taking bodies from the Clyde of Glasgow.

My mother took in washing for supplement Pops, meagre income. The going rate was something like 2p for socks 2p for a vest 3p for pants 4p for a shirt ,a loaf of bread cost 4p then =1.7now.

My father was in the observation core and the look out post was on the top of the hill above Sherflats Rd .Planes were indentified and those that could not  be their course and flight  were passed on to the maybe either to Douglas or Broughton stations .The post was a hole in the ground lined with sand bags and part roofed in with corrugated iron and covered with turf. It had a small store which pops wage then was only a pound a week =60 loafs the but of course everything was rationed I’ll leave it to someone else to talk about rationing .

As children we collected sphagnum moss from the side of Tinto which was taken to the staff room at Covington school where the moss was dried and all dirt and grass was removed and the large bagfuls were sent off to make large field dressings for wounded soldiers .

 

I also remember the Fire Brigade giving a demonstration on how to put out a incendiary bomb behind Thankerton hall ,A pail of water and a stirrup pump was used and they couldn’t put it out .It took ages before it was extinguished. It makes you think when Tokyo had half a million dropped on it I might .

I also remember about a dozen old men who made up the home guard firing with 22 rifles at a target this side of Roadhead Farm, Dads, Army is so funny but true, This was Thankerton defence against range rovers . No wonder he didn’t invade or was it the thought of Vera Lynn singing The white cliffs of Dover  that put him off .

One day a Miles Magister a 2 seater plane training plane with only the pilot to hand attempted to land where he got in difficulties neils place is now, an open sewer ran across the field and he hit it and shot into the air landing half way up the field where the bungalows are on  Millands He eventually came to a halt at town foot but ok.

The Italian prisoners were playing football and wore hairnets and hair bands the road which ran into the east end North Lodge they had a long sunken bowling alley .I befriended one some time later and spent a holiday in Italy with him and his family in Marmirolo a small village near Mantova. He Had reciprocated the visit .He looked after the pigs at the camp and on Sunday he attended Mass at St Marys in Lanark .We still keep in contact today 2004.

The Italians left and were replaced by the Germans. What an  industrious lot  they were the field was immediately planted with potatoes and when the war was over they had a open day for us Thankertonians with sports for every one .This was followed by a concert by the camp orchestra .Without a doubt the finest concert ever held in Thankerton Hall .I can still remember the opening march by Von Souse The German choir also sang Loch Lomond and some others in perfect English.

The lead violinist was a good looking chap along with several others played with the Berlin Philharmonic .I remember my sister who had a fancy for him .An accordionist played Colsanders by Monte a virtuosi piece .

One Saturday Thankerton was awash with troops preparing for D-Day Bren gun carriers came down Mill Road breaking it up and dislodging the kerbstones A soldier in German helmet and uniform was being marched down Boat Rd at Bayonet Point and 200yds below the Clyde Bridge and the Royal Engineers had put a Bailey Bridge over the river .This was then crossed by types of military vehicles .

I remember attending at the door at 40 Mill Road when Clydebank was bombed .It was a beautiful starry night moonlight night and the drone of planes away over Carnwath area could be clearly heard .The searchlights criss crossing over Glasgow was quite a sight .At one point the whole sky lit up in the direction of Carstairs .I thought it to be a flare as it gradually disappeared below the craw wood. There was a Dornier bomber later on drinking at Lank. Market

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