Dunstaffnage The War Years 1942 45 - a Memory of Oban.
In 1942 aged 5 due to my father being a shipwright in the Portsmouth Dockyard he was transferred to a satellite dockyard at Dunstaffnage where we stayed as a family until the war finished and we then moved back to Pompey. Workers in the Dockyard came from Chatham, Devonport and Rosyth. The dockyard had AFD 19 which was a floating dock to repair damaged North Atlantic and Artic convoy ships. My sister reminded me of H.M.S Bluebell, repaired, next convoy Artic, sunk, one survivor only.
The village was made up of about 240 prefabs (I have photos) to house the families. We lived at 13b Hervey Road and moved to 10a when my younger sister was born in 1944. The "houses" were put together by the Royal Marines which had a camp there.
What a life we had, playing in the wood below the Co-op, in the bay in the summer, on the hill on the other side of the Oban-Connel Road which only had ferns then, no fir trees like nowdays. Great for hide and seek. Dawn to dusk playing, going home when hungry, spoilt by having to go to school in Oban to The Rockfield School. Teachers seemed to dislike us English kids as I had the strap many a time.
For us children of school age this was a great time and we had no worries of the war and our parents did not seem to worry where or what we were up to. The only locals was the farm owner. The McPhersons at Maine Farm supplied the village with milk and eggs from his horse drawn float and we could always call at the farm if you ran out. The other was a family living in a croft in the sports field.
The village had a social hall called The Ship which was used for every event possible. As Dunstaffnage had no church my sister Ann on the 28th May 1944 was christened on the stage by the vicar from Connell, Rev D.A. MacCallum. Ann was one of the 12 children born in 1944. Friday night was the visit by the mobile cinema and I remember seeing Claude Rains in 'The Phantom of the Opera' a long time before the musical. I also remember a newsreel of Belsen being liberated and it frightened me then and still does. Sometimes the kids had a Saturday matinee with Tom Mix, Gene Autry etc.
When going to school in 1944, Oban esplanade had hundreds of landing craft tied up to the walls. Overnight they all disappeared and the invasion for D. Day was on.
One of my memories of Dunstaffnage Castle was the carpet of snowdrops and it became one of my favourite flowers.
In Cotober every year we have a get together for a meal, the Goble twins and their sister Jean, Pat Millman, about 15 of us turn up and tell stories of the past and a lot are re-hashed. If anybody reads this please make contact and I wll give you the details.
Everytime the BBC puts up the weather map with Oban on it I wish I was back there, and when we were kids there it never rained, it was sunny every day.
When we all moved back to our home towns the houses were taken over by locals being re-housed from the war and in about 1959-64 it was all demolished and re-built as a council estate. The laird of Dunstaffnage did not like the idea of a council estate called Dunstaffnage so it became Dunbeg. It's amazing that even the Castle has none or very little knowledge that it once had a Dockyard in its grounds.
It was a great way to start your childhood.
Brian Woodward. Now living in Brighton
A memory shared byon Jan 13th, 2011.
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