Author Bill Findlay looks back on his wartime memories

Just prior to the start of the war, blackout began. Curtains were replaced with black blinds on all windows and not one chink of light was seen from the houses. Street lights were turned off and we had to get used to walking about in the dark.

The brick-built Anderson air raid shelters, which stood partly on the pavement, were a hazard in the dark - many people walked into them and were injured.

Morrison shelters were built in the gardens and were made of corrugated iron. They were partly buried, then covered with sandbags, earth and turf. They were always damp inside and had a musky smell. We had one in our garden and that is where we went when the air raid warning sounded.


The siren, mounted at the police station, sounded when there was going to be an air raid. It made a loud, up and down wailing noise and was frightening.

When the air raid was over, the all clear sounded - it was a continuous, high pitched sound.

We were all very relieved when we heard it.

Air raids usually took place at night. We would grab warm clothes, blankets and gas mask, then head for the shelter. As the enemy planes passed overhead they made a loud droning noise. Their engines were deliberately desynchronised in order to frighten us. They did.

There was an army camp with ack-ack guns at Rushiehill camp about a mile outside Auchinairn. Searchlights from the camp ranged all over the night sky and if they picked out an enemy plane the entire barrage of ack-ack guns would fire at it. This gave us some reassurance.


The noise was so bad that hardly any of us children could sleep during an air raid, but we still had to get up for school the following morning.

We would pick up shrapnel, the small remains of the shells, on our way to school. Sometimes there would be a smell of cordite in the air, just like Guy Fawkes night.

During the night of April 8, 1941, Bishopbriggs was bombed.

One bomb fell in Bishopbriggs Park, another on houses in Wester Cleddens Road just opposite the school, and another on the middle building of the school. Several people were killed.

All the house windows in Kirkintilloch Road down as far as Bishopbriggs Cross were broken.

Almost all food was rationed throughout the war. Meat, milk, fish, even bread. We were only allowed to collect a whole egg every second week.

Fruit was particularly scarce and none more so than bananas. Most children never saw a banana until the war was over. We expected it to be the most wonderful thing we had ever tasted - most of us were disappointed.

Clothes were also rationed and everything was in short supply. Our school books were passed down from previous classes.

Even some of the books for writing on had been passed down. We had to make use of the spaces.

On May 8, 1945, morning play time seemed to go on forever. We wondered why, but not for long.

Mr Blair, our headmaster, eventually came to the school door with the news that the war was over and we were to get two days holiday.

Celebrations took place; fireworks, bonfires and street parties. It was fantastic.

Japan surrendered on August 14 of that year and we celebrated all over again.