Thin Red Line, Sept. 1969 edition.
Report by Malky Lobban on repairing “Wee Peter”
3 A & SH Company
I'm more than pleased to have this opportunity to compile the Company notes for this issue of TRL. Having recently found myself elevated to dizzy heights of CSM -- and breathless in the rarified atmosphere -- it gives me a chance to think less selfishly and take stock of those compatriots with whom I'm privileged to serve. I must first of all thank C/Sgt John Cree for the help and tolerance which he has shown while educating me in the finer points of Coy Admin and all the hundred-and-one details which behoves a worthwhile CSM. Thanks, John.
One of the main difficulties which must surely face any Company Commander is, how to co-ordinate training -- at Coy level -- when the unit is divided and separated by over 100 miles as, is the case with this company. Such a communications gap creates all kinds of problems, from administration to time wasted in travelling. The situation with 3 Coy has been, to a large extent simplified due to the geographical position of the drill hall at Lochgilphead, since it lies almost exactly halfway between Dumbarton and Campbeltown. This means that the two extremities of our divided Coy can meet at a central point. Our OC, Major Wedgwood intends to exploit this venue to the fullest -- besides it gets everyone away from the doorstep, as it were!
One problem, however, and which we can find no absolute answer, concerns our stalwarts from Dunoon, Cpls. Yuille and Watt. These two men have really gone out of their way to attend week-end training at Dumbarton and Lochgilphead. To reach the former, requires an early start for these lads not to mention a complicated and expensive boat and train journey; while a visit to Lochgilphead invariably means a fair amount of hitch-hiking and of course, “Shanks's Pony!''
While I'm on the subject of "dedication to duty" it would be as well at this point to give some mention to our invincible CQMS, "Chris" Denniston who, several months ago, was the victim of an unfortunate road accident during which he had both his legs broken. It is said of him -- although I will not vouch for the accuracy of the statement -- that while he was being rescued from his wrecked vehicle by the police and while suffering great pain, he insisted on his rescuers signing the appropriate form before handing over the ignition keys of the wrecked Securicor van! What more would one expect from a CQMS? Nevertheless, after a spell in hospital he was soon back at the drill hall complete with crutches and up to the neck in 1157s and 1033s -- and just as "crabbit'' as usual! Chris is being allowed to come to Annual Camp with us but purely on the Admin side.
Apart from a couple of week-ends at Lochgilphead, the last of which being on the 10th of August -- when we were visited by the Colonel of the Regiment, Major-General F.C.C. Graham and Colonel T.B.G. Slessor -- the Coy has been involved with weapon training and Range work. Recruiting has been good, and the OC was in the happy position of being able to pick and choose the right type of young men. I have no hesitation in saying that the quality of lads at present in the Coy will in the very near future make 3 (A & SH) a company to reckon with, and those elite Black Watch and Gordon units, which we hear so much about in AVR II, had better look to their laurels!
In spite of the fact that our hall at Latta Street is in absolute chaos due to extensive building operations, nevertheless we have managed to maintain a moderate amount off social activities. This isn't surprising when it's known that we have a venerable “bundle of energy'' among the members of the “Entertainments Committee”! I refer of course to Cpl. “Wullie” Sommerville”-- sometimes known as “the oldest teenager in the Vale of Leven”! Still on the subject of the social life, on the 27th of July we were visited by a party from the Regimental Club of Stirling, who were on an outing organised by RSM Coleman -- a good old fashioned “scoop up'' was enjoyed by all!
These notes could never be complete without some mention of “Wee Peter”! The greater part of this year, during extra-mural activities, the Dumbarton men have displayed more than a modicum of public-spirited excellence, above and beyond the call of duty, I might add! It all began during the great January storm of 1968 when Scotland awoke to a morning of widespread chaos. A victim of the holocaust was a charming little statue of a boy on a pedestal which stands in a small bay of Loch Lomond near the village of Luss. The statue, affectionately known by the locals as “Wee Peter”, is shrouded in local folklore, and is a well known landmark in the area. Much publicity was given in the local press to Wee Peter's downfall and subsequent reinstatement onto its plinth – the work being undertaken by a sympathetic building contractor.
But the statue did not have time to gather cobwebs before it once more fell afoul of chance circumstance, this time in the shape of a large cabin cruiser which crashed into the pedestal, whereby Peter had his second “dook” in the cold waters on the Loch. It was at this time that the Dumbarton lads decided to take over and show the world that the Argylls can turn their hands to any task. Thus, armed with ropes, blocks and tackles, scaffolding tubes, canoes, a variety of sundry tools and the brilliance of their haloes lighting the way, Operation “Wee Peter'' was on!
Enthusiasm waned when it became clear that the task required more specialised equipment than was immediately available, and the allotted week-end stretched into several - not to mention several evening expeditions to the site. Thus, what started out to be a routine job turned into a challenge, then an obsession, until finally the sweet taste of success? Wee Peter was once more on his feet and firmly cemented to the plinth.
After all this voluntary effort - and a considerable amount of cynical criticism by the locals of the village - one would expect to find a thankful public, but this was not to be; especially when it was discovered that the statue had been replaced the wrong way round and, worst of all, with its backside facing Luss! However, we are pleased to report that Peter IS facing Dumbarton, perhaps in silent respect to his Argyll benefactors. It is said that during the last desperate attempt to enthrone the wee statue, goose pimples appeared on its stony limbs – due to the unprintable oaths which echoed across the calm waters of the Loch!