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Glentress Camp
Forestry Memories
No: 4066   Contributor: Norman Davidson   Year: 1941
Glentress Camp

The above photograph and article below appeared in the Scots Magazine in Feb 2000 written by Bob Morrow on his return to Glentress Camp. This article provides another insight into the use of the camp over the years from its former use as a Ministry of Labour camp for training the unemployed built around 1933. It appears it was used as a training camp for soldiers probably around 1939-1943. Following this it was used as accommodation for Displaced Personnel (DP) possibly 1943-1945 and following this as a Forester training School until 1953.

Dear Sir, — There is an old adage sounding the warning that one should never go back. That an attempt to re-live the past will be doomed to failure. Well, this is right as I recently discovered.

It happened when my daughter Barbara and her husband Jim, having howked me out of my hermit-like existence, drove me off to Glentress, the old army camp near Peebles, where I spent almost a year, ending in December 1941, when we packed our wee spades and pails and sailed off to the sandy beaches of North Africa.

In passing, allow me to mention that if it's beaches you're after, there's a cracker over there. It's called the Sahara.

On the road to Glentress my sense of anticipation was increasing as 1 looked forward to telling them where this had been and where that had been, but nothing could have prepared me for what I found. In fact, that is what I found — nothing!

1 didn't expect to find Nissen huts, but I sought some remaining relic of the past. But I sought in vain. Nature had been busy in my absence, and all was now trees and bushes.

Despondent, I turned to say, "Let's go hame!" and found them both heading up the hill where a road had been. Thoroughly disillusioned I creaked after them and there at the top was a wee miracle — a little grassy mound I remembered from the past. A wee mound where nearly 60 years ago a couple of dozen of us had sat and posed for a snapshot (top) before those of us off duty leaped aboard the Peebles-bound truck, termed for some obscure reason — the "Passion Wagon". Thank the Lord for small mercies — the wee grassy mound, I mean.

So, I won't be going back anywhere again, and as at my age going forward is no big deal, maybe like the crab I'll try going sideways.

Bob Morrow

John Keenleyside who sourced the article comments on the photograph of the buildings:
‘Where the soldiers are on the bank, the gable end of a hut that is visible on the right is the hut which had a YMCA background and was used as kitchen staff accommodation in my day. This is identified quite easily from the rest of the huts as it was weather boarding and not corrugated iron. The dining hall was a standard corrugated iron building and I think the measurements were 20ft wide by 50 ft long (60ft if toilets were included).’
Picture added on 12 April 2018 at 08:25
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