My father, Ernest Dale, was called up immediately after war was declared. He was 20. He was initially assigned to the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC), and trained for 6 months through the phoney war at Tidworth on Salisbury Plain. Then a call came through for volunteers for something undefined in an unnamed location. Contrary to the old soldier’s dictum, Ernest volunteered…
He spent three weeks getting there: the trains were sent in erratic patterns ” to confuse the enemy” . As he put it: ” I don’t know what it did to the enemy, but it bloody confused me” .
Finally, he arrived at Fort William in the far north west of Scotland and was taken by jeep down a rough unmetalled road (” the old road” as he described it repeatedly during the holidays of my childhood) to Lochailort castle. He was shown in to Lord Lovat the following morning. ” Ah, Dale.”
” Yes, sir!”
” Thank God! RASC at last.”
” No, sir.”
” RAC sir. Tanks, sir.”
” Oh bugger! We asked for Royal Army Service Corps.” After a pause, Lord Lovat continued: ” Well, it’s taken us three months to get you here. Do you know anything about running a place like this?”
” No, sir. But I’ll try.”
Thus, by the miracle of a misprint, was his life saved. His tank unit were mostly killed in the Normandy landings.
This page is echoed at the Moidart Local History Group.