Saturday, 10 May 2014
10th May 1916, a boy was born on the Isle of Bute. Neil McLellan, named after his own father, my Grandad was born 98 years ago today.
On the very same day in 1998, his Great Grandson, Nyall Galloway was born. Two years after Neil passed away on the 31st March 1996, it was a blessing they both now shared the same Birthday!
Friday, 2 May 2014
Like most days after School, on my way home I would call in to my Grandad's house in Prospect Terrace, Ballochgoy.
A Tuesday afternoon was always particularly interesting however. His friend, a local Caseworker for SSAFA (Soldiers Sailors Airforcemen Association), would arrive at two o'clock. With the accuracy of a military watch, Neil would have the kettle on and two cups ready five minutes before. As soon as the nearby school bell rang there would be another cup, as he always knew I would not be too far behind.
The Caseworker's mission was to discuss, record and note the events surrounding my Grandad's time during the Second World War. His objective, was to present a legacy for Neil's family to remember him, a lasting record of this brave man's journey through battle and captivity to freedom.
Tuesday afternoons became a regular occassion and something I would always look forward to. Hearing the stories first hand, I was priviledged and proud just to sit and listen.
No PC's, laptops, word processors in sight. Not even the Internet as we rely on it today, had played any part in this task. Simply a notepad, dictaphone and pen would sit on the table beside the important cups of tea and Neil's two budgies.
So as the weeks and month's passed Neil's Story gathered pace.
Thursday, 1 May 2014
Many a day I would spend in my Grandad's Living Room, listening to stories he would tell me about his life during the Second World War and his time within the Prisoner of War camp Stalag XXA. With a cup of his great tea in hand, I would sit like a transfixed young boy watching a gripping action movie.
At the time I did not realise, how privileged I was, being the only family member to be told his stories of the 5 years in captivity. Like many other Prisoners of War, the trauma, experience and memories of those years would silence him for many years after release.
In the decade I grew up as a child the 1980's. I always remember a small tin that he kept hidden in his wardrobe. He always protected this tin and would not like anyone going inspecting its contents. Mischievous as you would expect a young boy to be. I remember taking a look to find many photographs of Soldiers, theatre plays and boxing matches. Many of the these photographs were of graves, funeral processions and close ups of wooden crossed markers.
The mystery only lead to my questions and so their stories began to unfold...