I was billeted in a house above a corner street store-cum-sweet shop and two attic rooms on the second floor were allocated to sleep eight of us. It was a memorable experience as we shared the deprivations of washing and shaving at an outside cold water tap during the wintry weather; the banter and talk as the moonlight streamed through the attic window and once, when we could not get to sleep, we put on our greatcoats over our night clothes and went for a walk in the snow along a hill road in the moonlight talking about what we imagined the War might have in store for us.

Now that the battalion had been mobilised and was a regular unit, it reorganised and the Peebles lads found they were now HQ Company and along with thirty others I was selected for the Signal Platoon. This proved fortunate for me as it started a life-long interest in all forms of communication and in this strange environment away from home it gave me an absorbing occupation that filled most of my time with new horizons: to send and read morse code, lay telephone lines and use field telephones, operate long-range signalling lamps, use signal flags and semaphore, as well as operating and repairing wireless sets whilst working as a group of out stations to a central control station [referred to as a wireless net]. On one occasion we used heliograph during a night exercise and with the light of a bright moon were able to transmit and receive signals, being told that during the years between the Wars the heliograph was used by the British Army to transmit football results throughout their Far East stations!

We had to pass an examination which was set according to regulations and conducted by Royal Signals officers and NCOs to ensure we could read morse telegraphy at ten words a minute and lamp signals at eight words. After passing these tests at Melrose on the 29th April 1940 I was qualified as a signaller and wore crossed signal flags on the lower left arm. On the 31 January 1942 when I passed a signal instructor's course at the Infantry School of Signals at Wetherby, Yorkshire, was required to wear them above my corporal's stripes.

15th Scottish Division badge
15th Scottish Division
As the more experienced and trained Infantry Divisions moved to France to join the British Expeditionary Force, the 15th (Scottish) Division moved south. The Division consisted of three Brigades and the 8RS was in 44th Infantry Brigade along with the 4th and 5th KOSB (this was eventually changed to avoid casualties during an operation being suffered by battalions from the same local recruitment area).


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