Wartime Memories

THE FIRST WORLD WAR: My father was at the Battle of the Somme and came through it. He wasn’t really 18 but he let on he was 18. He was a few weeks off it. He was a shoemaker, he cobbled. My mother was 25 when she got married. My father was the same age, just a few months of difference between them. Oh he sat and he told us stories and stories, about being in the trenches, and about the horses and about the Germans; hearing the Germans chittering in the front line. They were only a bit apart, you know, and you should have heard him acting the Germans, oh aye. Terrible, muddy and wet in the trenches. Tommy Tickler’s jam we used to send him out. I think it was mostly jam, bread and jam, I don’t know what they got but there was a song they had ‘Tommy Tickler’s Jam.’ “One pint pot, sent from Blighty in ten ton lots every night, when I’m asleep, I am dreaming I am eating Tommy Tickler’s jam”. He used to sing that to us, ‘Tommy Tickler’s Jam.’ And when we would have got him started, you know, my father, he was a quite young man, but he related stories to us about war, about being in the trenches and all that sort of thing. France, he spent a terrible lot of his time in France. Oh the Somme, that was a terrible, terrible massacre. Once in a blue moon he would have talked about it. We weren’t really interested. (Annie Reid)

The War Effort

Oh yes, I remember, you know, all the talk about the troops and all. I remember, when we got a wee bit older and were just beginning to knit, being given khaki wool and we knit scarves, you know. That was just plain and purl knitting, and we did those, and then, older ones knit jerseys and things for the troops, or waistcoats, you know, just anything to help the war effort, as it were. I had an uncle in the war. I didn’t see him all that often or anything, you know, but I knew he was in the war. He was a soldier in the war. It was a very troublesome time, although when you’re young you don’t think much about it, you know. You don’t really, I suppose, fully understand. The war was 1914 so I was born in 1906, I would have been eight years of age. I remember hearing all the reports, you know, in the paper and there was such tragedies; ones being killed, you know, even men that we would have known who had gone to the war, and then maybe, were only there a short time to some were killed. (Ethel Bruce)
Great Rejoicing

The War, the First World War was over when I was 8 year old. I remember the day it was over. The policeman came up to the school, Ramoan School to tell us that the war was over and we all got out and cheered and we all got home. (Mary McCurdy)
Oh yes the war was over. There was great rejoicing and all, even in the streets, you know, in the villages and all the places, because everybody was so delighted that the war was over. Yes I do remember that. There was terrific joy, you know, and parties and goings on at night, and dances and various things. Just a bit of rejoicing, as it were, that the war was over. Those times were awfully hard, when I think of it now, because troops, weren’t given all the facilities, even that they are now, you know, for where they would stay? They were packed into some place that wasn’t very nice maybe just, you know, to stay. As they talked about, bunked down, just here and there and everywhere. It was a very difficult time. (Ethel Bruce)
THE SECOND WORLD WAR

The Day War Was Declared

I remember the day war started in 1939. Well in my younger days I was in the Boy Scouts, and in September ’39 the Scouts were taken for a day to Rathlin, the first time I was on Rathlin. I felt very safe because the War wouldn’t affect me on Rathlin and I can remember it as well, going over in the wee open boat, and it was a desperate run over. The wind had got up and the spray lashing round you, but it was a milestone in your life, being on Rathlin the day war broke out. (PJ McBride)
I remember war being declared. I was outside, and it was the people next door had the wireless. and we heard, was it Chamberlain or who was it, came through the wireless, to say that Britain was at war with Germany. It didn’t mean an awful lot to me. (Annie Reid)
Oh aye I remember it starting. I remember being in the Church and the Minister announcing that there was a war. I would have been about 19 at that time. I wasn’t tempted. I suppose I was just about the right age for joining. (William Glass)
Oh yes, I remember when the War started. I was in Ballycastle. I had three brothers in the War. One of them got seriously wounded and the other two came through it alright, got pensions. (George McCullagh)
The War, yes it was a Sunday. I was working at Carnsampson House. They always sent up for me when they were taking the harvest in. They had the wireless on all day. It started at two o’clock. They announced it. I was just stunned for a minute, you know. (Margaret McGowan)
Effects on everyday life

I remember we used to go to school and carry a gas mask with us. We had an air raid shelter built beside our school. (Sarah Gribben)
Well my father had a car when I was four year old. At that time he had a Morris Cowley, bought it new, a Morris Cowley. During the war we hadn’t a car because you couldn’t get the petrol. (William Glass)
The night they bombed Belfast, I had a brother away up the country getting married that day. He went to Bangor for his holiday, for his honeymoon. They stayed all night in below the stairs in the hotel. (Alex O’Boyle)
Well, when the men were called up the women had to take on a few duties, civilian duties. I went to a school in Paisley. The school I went to was on the banks of the Clyde and you could hear the planes going over. I think everywhere they took away gates and iron railings. They were going to do something with the iron. Well then they discovered when they had tons of iron, they could do nothing with it. So after the war, it was taken out to sea, according to this man on the radio, and it was put into the Irish Sea along with all the other things and dumped. (Mary Delargy)
Make do and mend

During the Second World War there was masks, gas masks. I had to carry them to school for my boys. Everything was utility and there was no wool. You had to patch and darn and work powerful hard, and there was no washing machines, no fridges, no electric. There was no nothing and you had to wash in a big tub with a wash board and scrub them. You boiled white clothes. You got a ten stone bag of flour and you got all the letters off them, and boiled them. Four flour bags made you a good sheet, and they were good sheets. They were just like linen. They were lovely. You washed them and boiled them and then you put them out on the heather to bleach. (Mary McCurdy)
War didn’t affect us as much. Well I tell you what did. You didn’t notice the actual war, it was the rationing. You would have run out of sugar. (PJ McBride)
I thought it was great during the war time. It was all go, go. Then the food things were rationed but somehow, you know, the way when things were rationed. you seemed to buy in more. You never seemed to be scarce of food stuff, you know, always seemed to have plenty. (Margaret O’Boyle)
Smuggling

Some things were awfully hard to get during the War. I remember distinctly, we were fortunate, in some ways, that in the City of Derry we were near to the border with Donegal. We would have gone across the border and, maybe, bought something there. Then, you were only allowed to bring certain things back, you know. There was a place where they looked at your belongings, you know, your shopping, Customs. They would have examined your things so you had to be careful what you bought. But there was lots of hiding things, you know. If you had half a pound of margarine or something, you put it down your skirt. Something like that, just to get through the customs. There was things you hid, things that you wanted very badly but you couldn’t get. (Ethel Bruce)
Benefits

Aye, when the war came on there were demands on the farm then too. Lint and things was dear because they needed it for harness for the troops. Flax was a good price. (William Glass)
Troop movements

I seen all the convoys going out. I remember 100 going out there, 104 ships all in a bunch, all scattered you know and they went out with escorts all round them. They were all smoking, you know. In those days, it was all coal burners. I remember the ‘Hindenburg’ coming over here. She went back to America, and then she crashed at that time. She went up a flash, just 2 or 3 seconds, she was, and she was up about a hundred feet from the ground, you know. That was before the Second World War. She was a great big air ship, you know. I don’t know what length she would be, but she was a monster of a thing and there was a small engine in her. She was maybe doing about 50 mile an hour, you know. She came right over our house and I remember us watching her coming, a beautiful thing. Oh, aye there was lots of troops about. They stayed in the farm houses or in anybody’s house, anybody who wanted a couple of airmen. It was all airmen was about, because there were radios, or radios set up in the hills up there, and there were a lot of aircraft coming from America at that time, and they all flew in this way. Some of them never made it, some of them crashed there above Culraney. (Lawrence McHenry)
The ‘HMS Courageous’ came in and lay in the bay. She was an aircraft carrier, and all the sailors came ashore, and you never in all your life saw anything like the place. It was a big event and they went completely haywire through the place. I remember a boy, he lost his hat into the river and he just put his hand on the bridge, jumped over the bridge, into the river and lifted his hat. Ah, it would have been just before the war. The ‘HMS Courageous’, I’ll always remember that name. I think she went down. I think it was there for two days. One group came off, they went away and then the next day there were another group came. But the place was thronged. (Chris McMullan)
The Blackout

Blackouts, that was very bad. We lived in a long lane, you know, a big house. You could see the lights from the road. I was very strict about the blackout. (Margaret McGowan)
I was in the ARP. I was a warden. You had to go out at night, no lights were allowed, and one thing and another. If there were any German planes, then the ARP sent out a signal, you know, a red alert or something like that. You had to go out at night, around the place sometimes, you know. It was very hard. Maybe, a wee peep of light, that somebody didn’t mean to let out, you had to go and knock on the door and tell them to close it off. To my way of thinking, I’m sure if you were 100 yards away from it, you couldn’t see the blinking light, you know. It was stupid. The ARP used to put a gas mask on you and you had to go through training. Aye, then after that there, you had to go and you fitted the people with gas masks. After that you had to go and fit an extra thing on them, and they had to all come back again. It was like a canister thing, and it was put on top of the other one, and then it was taped and re-fitted. It must have been for some other type of gas, or else they made a mistake in making the first one. (Chris McMullan)
Billeting

There was soldiers in Carnlough I think. They stayed there. I don’t remember any staying around here at Garron Point. I don’t thing there was anyone here joined up in the war. There was a lot of sailors who were at sea you know during the war-time. There was a lot of ones at sea during that time. (Margaret O’Boyle)
My sister joined the WAF’s, the Women’s Air Force. Then, they had to do fire watch at night. Thank God they all came through it. Well they were doing Red Cross and canteens and stuff for the soldiers. There was a lot of soldiers in Ballycastle. There was English and then there was American. (Margaret McGowan)
The army, oh aye. They dropped off here and they walked in and if you were in the town that night, after the army came, all the girls around Ballycastle were trying get a soldier, oh my goodness. The Yankees came, any amount of them came there and courted. A good lot of them were married men, aye. (John Todd)
Training Exercises

The army was doing exercises and down the road, a bit down the road, it was supposed to be an exercise and they were for blowing up a bridge. There wasn’t a bridge there.There they came in here and warned us and they were pretending they were blowing up a bridge, down there at the height just, but away down in the field they put off a bomb and they blew it up and they blew a huge hole in the field. They blew a big hole in the ground. (William Glass)
Soldiers would have come round on an exercise, went through the mountains from Ballycastle to Ballymoney. There were a fair amount of soldiers stationed at Ballycastle at a time and they done exercises out round the mountain. I remember them shooting at target practice in the mountains. And shells, you would hear them whistle and boom, boom. Big shells would have went off in the mountain and we watched them exploding out in the mountain. You would see the moss going up in the air. (PJ McBride)
A great scholar for following wars

Hughie McCollam that lived up there, he worked at Ballycastle Golf Links. He was a great scholar for following wars. Oh, a great scholar. He would buy two daily papers every day, ‘The Daily Express’ and I think the other one was ‘The Irish News’. All he wanted ‘The Irish News’ for was the horse racing, that’s right, and the other one was for the affairs of the world. Oh, he was, he would have been. what you would call nowadays, a well-educated man. And he only got the same odd day at school as the rest of them did, in his time.
Now, he would have followed the War, and I’d be up in it at night, for the simple reason that, in them days, there were no milk carts came round the country delivering milk. The neighbours got the milk from the nearest farmer. We would have went up at night with the milk, you see, and you would have got sitting round the fire and got to hear all this craic and chat until bedtime, which was great. I would have went up tonight and somebody else the next night and so on but mostly, if you got into the habit of going, you more or less took charge of it yourself. And I would have got all the data from this Hughie McCollam, and he would read you, you know he could read out, you know, how many casualities was at sea. Them submarines would have sunk them ships, you know, liners and everything and thousands of them lost at sea, thousands and thousands of them. I was kept very well up to date with it. And during the war this boy was out on a game of golf and Hughie knowed he wasn’t, well, he wasn’t British anyway, and he got into a yarn with him. There weren’t much chat in him, I think, but Hughie said to him, “Who are you”? He says, “I was a general. I’m a Pole,” he says, “and I was a general in the British Army”. “Oh”, Hughie says and “What’s your name?” “Tick” he says. “Is it T-I-C-K?” Hughie says. “No” he says “It’s T-Y-C-K”. “ By God,” Hughie says, "Hitler will make you tick when he gets you.” (John Duncan)
Bereavement

I had an uncle killed in the war. Yes, my mother’s brother and his name is on the Cenotaph in Broughshane, William George McBride. He was in the Irish Guards and he was killed in Italy in 1943. Although I never knew him, he sent me a book, ‘Tiger Tim’s Annual’, to the baby of the family. I was the baby of the family and I got this book. It was her brother, who was the next of kin, that came over on a bicycle and told my mum. He rode all the way from Ballygarvey, on a bicycle, to tell her. (Annie Reid)
A lucky break

Didn’t I join the Merchant Navy when I was young. I spent five or six years there, until I got my leg broke. That was the cargo ships. I’d be in my ’30s. I took the notion of getting married and I went to sea to make marriage money. Three pound five shillings a week, and you had to give the cook eleven shillings of that to feed you. I got to like it before I left. Only I got my leg broke, I would have been lost in the war. I was on a ship called the ‘Jargoon’. She belonged to Robinson of Glasgow. The war broke out in 1939 on a Sunday morning. It broke out at 10 o’clock, between the Masses, between the 9 and 11 o’clock Mass. Didn’t I get word to join the ‘Jargoon’! My leg was better at that time. That was on a Wednesday and didn’t I get the wire. Wasn’t I to join her the following Tuesday. Sunday morning the war broke out and I took cold feet and didn’t go. The ‘Jargoon’ left Southampton. She was the very first British ship to go down. The German’s were waiting on her outside. (James McHenry)
Local Air Crashes

And there was a plane crashed on a Sunday morning. Someone thought they heard the crash but nobody ever went up to investigate. Maybe about Wednesday or Thursday somebody came on it, and some of them, there were quite a few on it, and some of them were killed, and some of them badly injured, but some of them, like, tried to crawl somewhere, you know, but they were that badly injured that I suppose they just couldn’t go any further, and they lay down and died. A brother of mine was one of the people that was up at the crash site and it was full of cigarettes, and what not. I remember hearing all about it, aye. I think if it had have been about another 20 or 30 feet higher it would have made it. It would have missed it. And then, there was another one came in. I think in the fog, it went straight into the cliff and they were killed instantly. (Lawrence McHenry)
There was two, or three, plane crashes in the Glenshesk mountains. I walked to one of them. There was two of them crashed on the mountain between here and Cushendun and we walked to it. There was another one crashed on Knocklayde and it was a big sea plane and there was nine killed. I remember the men, och, there was a gang there about thirty or forty men gathered up to see it, and they carried the dead bodies down on gates, to where an ambulance would have picked them up. There was a very exciting time when the two planes crashed on the other mountain between and Glenshesk and Cushendun. There was an American fellow driving a left hand drive jeep, and they carted all the plane down from the mountain, down to a farmyard, and a lorry picked it up and took it away. I suppose it was used for spare parts or something, but it was very exciting watching them. We were young of course. This boy, in a left hand drive jeep, thought he was God Almighty. He could have drove her anywhere. (P.J. McBride)
A rescue

Aye there was a big Yankee bomber crashed. There were a reconnaissance plane from the North of Scotland too. She crashed in fog. The other crashed in an awful snowstorm. Oh aye it about 1942/43, just in the middle of the war. It was me led the rescue team there, and there was nobody they could have got to have done that, except me, because the place was all covered in snow. There was snow 20-30 feet high going out there, aye. There had been one survivor on the big Yankee bomber. There were none on the other at all. Wasn’t he taken down to my house first, that house across the river there. My mother attended to him. She was a nurse. She sent me down for the doctor. Didn’t I go for the doctor. The doctor came up there, oh there was very little clothes left on him. The man was still conscious. Oh the blood that was running, was dried up on him, you know, before I came on him. And his clothes, there was hardly a stitch of clothes, at all, on him, but when the doctor washed him and got him cleaned up, my mother gave him a brand new suit of underwear that I never had on. He was sent to the hospital in Cushendall and then when he got a wee bit better they carted him away to Belfast, a hospital in Belfast. That man never recognised what my mother and me done for him. Oh the man was all smashed. The head was nearly knocked off him. In the first place wasn’t his leg broke. Didn’t he belong to a place away in the South of England. I think it was a place called Somerset. It was fog the big Yankee crashed in. That would be three miles from above the top, straight out there from the house, straight out, about three mile out there. (James McHenry)
War is over

If I can remember it starting, I can remember when it was over. Och, the talk was out I think you sort of knew the War was coming to an end. (William Glass)
Oh, I remember the day war was over. We got a holiday. I remember them telephoning us from the Head Office to say to close, we were getting a half day the war was over. (Margaret O’Boyle)