We also had to polish the brass buttons on our old-style uniform which was replaced at the start of the War with the more simplistic 'battle-dress'. During the fourteen days you were for ever changing dress: parade dress to fatigues (overalls) or to shorts and vest for physical training.
I was heartly sickened by the whole experience, and storing my equipment at home, I hoped it would be a long time before I had to wear it again. Nevertheless, when the call came I did not hesitate to report to the Drill Hall in Peebles on the 1 September 1939 (three days before War was declared) just as my three brothers did as they joined their Royal Artillery gunner troop in the adjacent Gun Shed. I remember I had just returned from a cycle run with a friend and we were in the swimming baths when we were told we had to report to the Drill Hall where the doctor would be examining us from 6 o'clock onwards.
I was passed fit for service. Two phrases now defined my position: I was 'embodied', a constituent part of the Army (not just the 8RS) and liable to be sent to any battalion or unit; and (b) would serve 'for the duration' no matter how long the War would last. For the first three weeks of the War the Peebles company of the 8RS reported daily to the Drill Hall as other companies did in Edinburgh, Haddington, Musselburgh and Innerleithen - a total of about 500 men. We were given point-303 rifles and equipped as regular soldiers. The older lads exploited the gullibilty of the youngers ones like myself to examine his rifle [the 'soldier's best friend'] to see if there were any blood stains remaining from the First World War. Certainly, the equipment had not changed much from that used by my father in 1914-18. The three weeks at the Drill Hall were spent drilling, weapon training and route marches to get us fit. We quickly mastered stripping and reassembling the Bren machine-gun and regularly practised the 'art' as it was grandly called of crawling across ground, hugging it and keeping our weapons clear of the dirt.
The Royal Scots badge
The Royal Scots
When we did leave Peebles there were crowds of local people to see us off and tears were shed at our departure. But to everyone's astonishment, including our own, we were back in Peebles that same week-end on leave; we had only moved to Earlston in the Borders.


Page Links ~ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,

21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30,

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43,

44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50 Index