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THE SECOND WORLD WAR

The Home Front (last)

 

 

Shortages

Before the Second World War started, Britain imported over 60% of its food (about 55 million tons of food a year) from other countries. After war was declared in September 1939, the British government had to cut down on the amount of food it brought in from abroad as German submarines started attacking British supply ships.

To make sure everyone got a fair share of scarce supplies, rationing was introduced on 8 January 1940, for bacon, butter and sugar, followed later by other items including meat, tea, cheese and eggs.

Charlie Anderson recalls:

In the Aberchirder area everyone had ration books but there was always enough food because there were plenty of rabbits and everyone grew plenty vegetables – every house had a big garden.

Farmers had to grow a certain amount of potatoes per acre – in Autumn schoolchildren got days off to help with potato lifting. And at harvest time there was a month off school to work for farmers – I worked in my last two years before I left at 14. (I worked in farming for a year and a half after that before I got a job in the building trade in Huntly.)

Government inspectors made sure farmers used every bit of each field – edges of fields were hand dug if necessary.

The Market Park and Swing Park were ploughed up and planted in crops.



Tattie Pickin' (potato lifting)


School children help with the harvest
 

The lotted lands – pieces of land feued to house-owners in the village – below South Street and elsewhere were used mainly for grazing, although some crops were planted. At that time several village people went round selling milk fresh from the cow, including Dod Hosie, Alex Benzie, David Yule and Adam Michie. John Taylor of Cleanhill Farm also grazed cattle on the South Street lotted lands.  

Everyone with even a small bit of ground was told they had to grow a certain amount of potatoes or whatever.

Flax was grown locally so the seeds could be used for medical purposes as well as for its fibre for ropes, etc. The factory above the golf course at Turriff was originally built as a flax factory.

Children collected sphagnum moss out the Cornhill road and handed it in to the school – it was also used for medical dressings

I also remember collecting waste paper which was stored beside the New Marnoch Manse, and helping to fill sandbags for Hugh Youngson at what is now McLaren’s Garage.


Foggie Moss

Even with school holidays timed to suit country life, children had always been in the habit of taking time off school – some with permission, many without - to help their parents and farmers with sowing and harvesting. In wartime the children had an even more important role to play, and extensions to holidays were made on several occasions when harvest of potato-lifting had been delayed by bad weather.

At Marnoch School the head teacher, Lt Bonar Budge – who was an important figure in the Home Guard and Auxiliary Units – proudly recorded that the school garden was looked after by the boys, with the produce being used in the school kitchen.
 

Government measures to combat food shortages upset the Town Council’s plans for the Market Park. In 1936, the McRobert Trust had granted the Council money be used for educational bursaries and to provide recreational facilities. Early in 1939, the Council used £200 of the money to buy the Market Park and what is now the play park in Main Street. However, under Government regulations introduced at the start of the war, these pieces of land would have to be used for growing food, not recreation.

In early 1940 the Council paid Moray Tile Works to drain what was now named the McRobert Park. This was then planted out in grass (not oats as planned) by Mr Grant, Longhaugh. As a precaution against enemy planes landing, half a dozen plantation thinnings were laid out by volunteer labour.

In 1941, the eastern end of the park was sown with oats as well as grass for which Geordie Donald got grazing rights for £3, with the provision he put up fencing. In the autumn, Mrs McKilligan, Milbethill, bought the standing oat crop for £14, while Mr Gordon, Gallowhill, paid £1 for the grass from the small park in Main Street. Mr Gordon was also given the job of ploughing up the west end of McRobert Park with horses. Oats were again planted there the following year, fetching £25 from Mr Moggach, Skeibhill.


Oats at McRobert Park

In 1943, three acres of potatoes were planted in McRobert Park, while turnips and potatoes were planted in the small park “to cleanse the ground ready for laying down at a future date for a children’s sports field”. In the autumn McRobert Park was taken over by the War Office under the Compensation Defence Act 1939 and again used for potatoes in 1944.

After the war had ended, the Government’s Agricultural Executive Committee gave permission for McRobert Park to be sown in grass for use as playing fields, but no labour could be found to fix the drains which were reported not to be working because the Moss Road ditch was choked! Possibly because of this, the grass failed to grow properly and in April 1946, the Town Council agreed the park should be spring harrowed, sown with a strong seed mixture and double rolled, before being prepared for football.

The requisitioning of railings gave rise to some disagreements between the Town Council and central authority. All over Britain, metal was being requisitioned for the war effort and although not all of it was useful or used, it was a good propaganda exercise, as the British public needed to feel that they were contributing to the war effort.

The Council minutes record that in April 1942, by Government demand, railings were to be taken down at the Parish Church Hall, Ledo in Main Street (Mr McKay), The Bungalow [179 North Street] (Mr Geddes), Causewayend (Mr Davidson) and the West Hall. 

In March 1943, the Council protested to the Ministry of Works in Aberdeen against its proposal to requisition railings from the new council houses on South Street, west of the Commercial Hotel. As the houses were on a main road, it was said their removal would be dangerous and the railings were also needed to protect the gardens from cattle and sheep being moved! The same argument was used about The Cottage (next to Rose Innes) on South Street. Following a meeting between Provost Auchinachie and Mr Rollo of the Ministry, it was agreed all railings on walls under 2 feet high should remain.


VE (Victory in Europe) Day

On Tuesday 8 May 1945, the day the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, more than a million people celebrated in the streets all over Britain.

The Banffshire Journal of the following week recorded how the Parish of Marnoch celebrated VE Day:

Concert
A fine performance by Betty Bruce’s concert party, Aberdeen, was given in the Memorial Hall on VE Day, in aid of the Marnoch Hall Building Fund, and a gross sum of £108 was raised, including a cheque for £25 from the Chairman, Major N W Aitken, DSO, House of Glennie. During the evening, the gathering heard the broadcast of the King’s speech, a set having been installed for the purpose by Mr J A Fraser [who had a cycle shop at 39 Main Street]. The Chairman welcomed certain repatriated p.o.w. who were present as guests of the committee, and spoke feelingly of the magnificent contribution which the 51st (Highland) Division had made towards the victory now declared.

Thanksgiving
VE Day was observed at Marnoch with services of thanksgiving, conducted by Rev M Buchanan, one in the school, after which classes dispersed for two days’ holiday, and another service in the Kirk of Marnoch, following the broadcast announcement of victory by Mr Churchill.

Victory
On Tuesday well attended services of thanksgiving were held at New Marnoch and Marnoch churches. On Wednesday a public service was held in the Memorial Hall, when Provost Auchinachie presided and Rev M Buchanan and Mr Watkinson took part. Miss Beattie was at the piano, and Reveille was sounded by Mr Watkinson. Flags and bunting in abundance were displayed throughout the burgh.


Winston Churchill - VE Day


War Memorials

The parish has three war memorials to those who gave their lives in the Second World War. These are located at New Marnoch Church, in Old Marnoch Church and outside Culvie School.


Memorial at New Marnoch Church


Memorial at Culvie





Inscriptions at New Marnoch Church



Memorial at Old Marnoch Church


Inscription on Memorial at Culvie


Memorial at Old Marnoch Church
 

 

Combined list of those lost in WW2 1939 - 1945

1939-1945

 

OM

NM

C

Norman

Allan

x

x

 

Jack

Angus

x

x

 

William

Brand

x

x

x

Andrew

Clark

x

x

 

John G

Duncan

x

x

 

Alexander

Gibb

x

x

 

Alexander C

Inglis

x

x

 

Colin B

Innes

x

 

 

James

Innes

x

x

 

David B

Johnstone

x

x

 

Charles M

McDonald

x

x

x

Robert

Milne

x

x

 

Lily

Mitchell

x

x

 

George A

Morrison

x

x

 

George T S

Paterson

x

x

x

Joseph

Porter

x

x

 

James

Smith

x

x

 

John M

Stilson

x

x

 

James

Webster

x

x

 

John C

Thomson

 

x

 

Dustan

Wallace

 

x

 

 


Memorial at Old Marnoch Church

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Continue to Part 2 - Home Guard and Auxiliary Units

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