Wednesday 22 November 2023

News from Greenock, September 1914

An interesting account of Greenock at the start of the first World War appeared in the Sydney Evening News in September 1914.  It was an extract of a letter written by someone in Greenock to a relative in Sydney, Australia.

It reads:-  “Now what about war news?  Isn’t it terrible the way the Kaiser has turned up the whole of the civilised world?  I am right in the thick of it here; 2500 soldiers made up of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Royal Scottish Fusiliers (Regulars), Royal Scottish Horse, and Royal Field Artillery, picketed all over the place – in schools, skating rinks, and tents.

There is a torpedo factory down near Cardwell Bay, and this is guarded strongly, sand block houses being built on the main road, barbed wire entanglements all round, and sentries placed everywhere.  No one is allowed up the Lyle Road, and at Dellingburn there is a guard place.  Last night they fired on and ran in a man on a bicycle, who wouldn’t stop when ordered to halt.  At the Sailors’ Home here, and along Newark Street, among the trees, are two airship guns placed ready for use, also one up the Lyle Road.

It is necessary to have a special pass to travel on the River Clyde and the boats are not allowed down river past a certain point, behind which there is a fleet of eight cruisers.  The trams are still running past the torpedo factory, and when passing everyone has to bet off the top and go inside and not look anywhere on pain of death.  It is terrible.  Motors are rushing here and there with officers in them, and the whole countryside is teeming with the atmosphere of war."

It gives a fascinating glimpse into what was going on in very well known areas of the town.  The Torpedo Factory was situated east of the Battery Park and the Sailors' Home (Mariners' Home) was on Newark Street.  (This is a later map, but shows some of the places mentioned in the article.)

For more information check out the website Inverclyde's Great War which has lots of information about this area in both wars as well as lists of those who fought and died for our country.

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