Wartime Shops, Vans and Buses

Donald John Macleod was brought up in Enaclete during the war. He recalls the shops, grocery vans and buses that were the source of ample provisions, news and craic at the time.

Donald John Macleod was brought up in Enaclete during the war; he has generously provided a few memories of his time there.

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Three buses went from Uig to Stornoway daily during the war – John Macaulay Islivig, Peter Macritchie Aird and John Buchanan Valtos. During the war the buses used to be full of servicemen coming and going back from leave, some never returning. I remember as a kid I was on holiday at my uncle’s house in Timsgarry and got on Peter Macritchie’s bus to go back to Enaclete. I was sitting beside Neil Matheson, 22 Crowlista, (right) who was in naval uniform. It was his last leave, and he was lost at sea, aged 27, off North Africa. (Neil died on 11 November 1943 and was attached to HMS President III at the time. His hatband reads HMS Iron Duke (which spent the war in Scapa Flow) and the troopship HMS Ombra on the frame was a minesweeping yacht – presumably Neil served on both.)

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All buses coming and going stopped at Puff’s house – Norman Macdonald, Post Office, Enaclete. There were always people ceilidhing at his house, as he had a wireless and the bodachs used to visit to hear the nine o’clock news about the war. There was great hilarity when the service lads came off the bus and they were welcomed by all and sundry. Bottles of beer would be drunk beside the bus and enws was swapped, length of leave, where they were serving and whether there were any other Uig lads with them.

Puff, left, had been a policeman in Glasgow but came home after his wife, who was from Lemreway (South Lochs) died. John M Macdonald, Puff’s son, was a Quartermaster in the Merchant Navy, on the Anchor Donaldson Line of Glasgow. He was on SS Gregalia during the war. John was later the postmaster in Enaclete, a highly intelligent man who should have stayed at sea as he had no idea how to work a croft.

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Puff’s brothers Domhnall Dubh (Donald) and Iain Masach (John) – right, with John Macleod 5 Enaclete – ran a shop beside the Post Office and also had the tank for paraffin. The people from Ungeshader, Enaclete and Gisla used to queue there for petrol. Donald had been a policeman in Glasgow but had to resign, possibly because of epilepsy. He swore like a trooper but was very kind to children. On the counter of the shop were small tin pails with boiled sweets. When we went into the shop he would put his hand in the tin and give us some sweets for nothing, and then in Gaelic tell us to bugger off. He was not religious; I think some people looked on Enaclete as a ‘place of darkness’ in those days as nobody sat at the Lord’s Table to take communion.

We used to have two grocery vans, a butcher’s van and a fish van every week during the war. The Co-op van and Lipton’s van came with groceries from Stornoway; John Buchanan, Valtos had a grocery van and John Matheson, Cliff, used to come on Saturday with his butcher’s van. During the summer herring season Alex Morrison, from Achmore but with a paternal connection to Reef, used to come with fresh herring, charging 2/- or 2/6 for 20 or 25 herring, and he always gave you a couple of extra. My grandmother did the curing and every week she used to put around 20 into a barrel with rough salt for our winter feed. Being from Bernera she was a dab hand when it came to fish.