Soon after the beginning of World War Two in September 1939, most men who could fight volunteered to join the forces and those that were left were either too young, too old, or in reserved occupations – jobs vital to the war effort.
In the summer of 1940, when an invasion seemed likely, the Government broadcast a message asking for volunteers aged between 17 and 65, who were able to fire a rifle or shotgun, to join the Local Defence Volunteers, which was renamed as the Home Guard. The organisation was stood down in December 1944 and disbanded on 31 December 1945.
Jack Stewart joined the Local Defence Volunteers or Home Guard at the age of 17. The unit was run by an ex-Sgt Major, Bill Fordyce, and met twice a week in the West Hall. Activities included square bashing, body building, various sports and “Dad’s Army” manoeuvres in the woods on Cleanhill.
The members lived in Aberchirder and the surrounding rural areas and were ‘key workers’ who were exempt from joining up. They included:
John Coull and his son Harry – joiner and undertaker
Jim Fraser – cycle agent
David Godsman – blacksmith and farrier
J & C Grant – builders who employed many
William Grant – solicitor
William McKay & Sons – engineers, motor mechanics, and mobile threshing mills
David MacLennan – motor mechanic, car hire and filling station
Bob Stevenson & his son Waldie – blacksmith and hearse duties.
Other exempt occupations were road maintenance, farm workers and builders.
People below or above call-up age also joined.
This photograph (courtesy of Nancy McKidd) would have been taken when the Aberchirder unit was being inspected outside the West Hall in North Street by the three officers in the middle of the front row.
Names identified are:
Back (l to r): X; Sandy Wilson (Littlefield, late church beadle); X; John Morrison (Mains of Corskie? Clunie?); X; Jimmy Thomson (Peterden); Sandy Inglis (Aberchirder); X; Eric Wilson (son of Cody Wilson, baker); John Stephen (Wester Corskie); J Steel (Barbank); X.
2nd back (l to r): John Grant (Knockorth); X; A Morrison, ‘Springies’ (Spring Garden); X; Jimmy Sievwright (Cranna Bridge Croft); John Auchinachie (Merchant, Aberchirder); X; Gordon (Gallowhill)?; X; G Mitchell (Cranna); X; David Duncan (Aberchirder, brother of Margaret Duncan); Willie Duguid (Bellman’s Croft, Ord, cousin of the Cranna Duguids); X.
3rd back (l to r): J (Dodie?) Bremner (Cornhill, worked at Auchinderran); Charles Sandison (butcher, Aberchirder); Harold Geddes (Aberchirder); Geordie Stephen (Mains of Auchinderran); X; Three visiting officers?; Alex Watt (Castlebrae); Bill Andrew (Aberchirder); X; X; X.
Front (l to r): X; Ian Leslie; X; X; Gordon Raffan (Forglen, worked with John Fraser, cycle shop); X; X; James Legge (Finnygaud).