Wartime Enaclete

Thanks to Donald John Macleod, Enaclete and Bridge of Don, for these memories of Enaclete during the 1940s.

As a boy in Enaclete I heard many stories about the war, including the Onslow action, being discussed by Calum Iain Smith and the worthies who used to congregate at night for a ceilidh at Norman Macdonald’s (Puff’s) house, Post Office, Enaclete, and also at the Coisich’s house after the family had moved from Ungeshader.

Calum Iain’s father, Donald, was one of six men from Uig who had served in WW1 on the auxiliary cruiser HMS Orama at the Battle of the Falklands.  He was a very quiet man but on Hogmanay he sometimes sang a song about the Orama and the Falklands, but I have never heard anyone else singing it. I wonder if anyone has the words of this song?

Puff’s house was one of two houses in our village with a radio and most nights there were people from Enaclete, Ungeshader, Geshader and sometimes further afield who would visit the house for a ceilidh, listen to the BBC 9 o’clock news and wait the arrival of the Uig bus. Uig had three buses then, MacRitchie’s, Buchanan’s and MacAulay’s, all of which on their journeys to and from Stornoway would stop at the Macdonalds’ house.

The ferry sailings from Kyle to Stornoway were at that time staggered to prevent U-boats shadowing and sinking the Lochness and consequently nobody knew when the boat, and therefore the bus meeting it, would arrive. People often waited into the wee small hours and when the bus eventually arrived there was great hilarity and a hearty welcome for the servicemen coming home on leave. Today this house lies empty and my thoughts often return to the days of laughter, jokes, stories, leg-pulling and bonhomie. Next to the Post Office was a shop and a paraffin storage tank and it was very busy place with cars, buses, lorries and people on cycles and on foot coming and going all day long; indeed the area could be described as the Piccadilly of Uig.

Norman’s son John was a Quartermaster in the Merchant Navy and when he returned from the sea he used to bring me comics from New York. These American comics were full of dragons and monsters and sometimes they scared the living daylights out of me when I read them by the fire with the light from a peat.

©DJ Macleod

2 thoughts on “Wartime Enaclete

  1. ..Now, Donald, describing Iain Puff’s place as the equivalent to “the Picadilly of Uig” is taking it a bit far!!

    I remember his shop/post office/conference centre et al and it was usually a tip! A counter flanked with papers of varying dates, trays of fruit gums and Ole English Spangles and a steel cheese cutting wire! To the rightfromthe floor upwards were loads of wellies, Argylls and Dunlop Warwicks!
    The sheep medications were kept next door and whilst he would go in for a “phantom order of “25 pile gorm or worming tablets”, subsequently cancelled as we coudnt remember if it was actually 25 or 10, we usually managed to pull the bottom roll of fruit gums off and were amazed at how the rolls all fell down one to fill the gap! We were always caught out by this noise and would either have to pay or put them back, depending on how many weeks of Granny’s pension we had to collect!

    Iain, himself, was an expert at guessing the weight of the cheese using his thumb as a guide and I remember well- I assumed it was a right of passage – the first time he began recounting war tales to me as a teenager. I suppose he thought that I was no longer young and was to be treated henceforth as an adult. All stories began “Ha-hum,…”
    All he got in return was usually uh-huh! as most of the time, I didnt have a clue as to who he was talking about!

    Iain Maiseach, who sometimes tended the shop in his absence was much more fun to us as youngsters as he was more dithery. The late Don Geong and I had great fun with him.

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