Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

I took an unusual pic of Glasgow’s Spitfire – then there was a coincidence!

Time for yet another spooky coincidence – they really do follow me around.

During one of my recent visits to Kelvingrove, I happened to look up as I walked through the gallery where Glasgow’s Spitfire (LA198) hangs from the roof. Like most, I probably spend more time looking at this exhibit from the upper gallery, where you are closer to, and looking down on the aircraft from slightly above.

It’s possibly a little less noticeable from the gallery below, as the colouring of its underside tends to blend with the roof space, I think.

But I noticed it this time, mainly because you get a better feel for just how close the fit of the wingspan is within the width of the gallery – it would not have taken a lot to make it just to wide to fit, and they’d have to have modelled it after version with the chopped wing tips! There really was such a mod, which altered the handling and stability.

The view from below is interesting, as the aircraft is posed with its undercarriage lowered.

I find there’s always a slightly disconcerting aspect to such views, from below – in war, if you were ‘the enemy’ and saw that view, you were in the wrong place. That thought first occurred to me at the opening of Cumbernauld Airport, marked by the arrival of a Harrier, which we were able to watch during its whole approach run, For some reason, as I watched it, I started thinking “If this approach was for real, I’d be dead soon, and probably couldn’t do anything about it, not against a Harrier”.

Forget that.

I took this shot specifically to catch that wing tip clearance.

It’s not really that close, but it’s still close.

Spitfire Wing tip clearance

Spitfire Wing tip clearance

So, where’s the coincidence?


I’ve gone back to having an automatic link to new Atlas Obscura entries, and just after I took this pic, what was featured in the atlas?


Glasgow’s Spitfire (LA198)

And, if you check the link, you’ll find they have some pics from below too!

I deliberately avoided the frontal view (for the reason given above), but they got a really good one.

I think I may have to go back and recreate that one soon.


Nov 19, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, military, photography, Transport, World War II | , | Leave a comment

This is kind of sad, as Bletchley Park secrets will be lost

While I understand the mental process of someone who was actually there at the time, I also have to say that there comes a time when the principles no longer apply, and (I have to add, provided it’s legal) stories should be told – while they still CAN be told.

It’s taken a long time for much of the material surrounding the work at Bletchley Park to be uncovered, and the stories of some of the most secret development there to be told.

I’m thinking of the work of, for example, someone such as Tommy Flowers, and his work on Colossus.

I still shudder when I think of Churchill’s order to smash everything after World War II ended, to make sure the next enemy could not get their hands on any of the technology.

Then we learn that not only was Colossus not smashed, but half a dozen of them survived and were secretly in use during the Cold War.

World War II ended in 1945, that as a long time ago, and those who contributed to its ending need proper recognition, not just the lucky famous few who have been credited to the birth of computing and programming so far.

I’m afraid I have to say this ‘silence’ is just no longer appropriate, and far from doing a service to anyone, will be doing a disservice to many.

A 95-year-old veteran who worked as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park in World War Two has said she will take her secrets to the grave.

Margaret Wilson, who was part of a team that recorded German radio transmissions, said she did not tell her family about her work until recently.

Mrs Wilson, from Shirebrook in Derbyshire, said her great regret was not telling her late husband.

Codebreaker, 95, still keeping Bletchley Park secrets

Bletchley Memorial

Bletchley Memorial 2013 © Roger Davies via geograph The memorial consists of two slabs of Caithness stone one with the wording ‘We also served’ and the other with a sculpted list of 25 of the some 300 outstations that existed across the globe

Nov 15, 2018 Posted by | Lost, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Have metal thieves just become vandals?

It seems to be some time since I’ve been fed any stories of scum stealing any type of metal from memorials.

At one time it felt as if such stories were popping up almost weekly in the media, but I can’t recall coming across any recently.

I know various laws were being introduced, together with other tweaks to make trading in scrap metal more accountable, and for legit traders at least, remove the cash-in-hand option.

There were some articles at the time, but nothing since, so I can’t say if these changes were effective, or circumvented.

However, one thing I do think has become more frequent is the appearance of stories regarding mindless attacks and vandalism of war memorials.

I may be doing something along the lines of adding two and two and getting five, but with the most recent report from Brechin, I was nudged into wondering if thwarted metal thieves were just having a go at places where they once found the stock of their illicit trade, or were maybe telling their kids what to do, and vandalise memorial sites, just to make themselves feel ‘better’, and spoil things for others.

“YOU spoiled things for us, so we’ll spoil things for you!”

No proof or otherwise that this is the case – just some idle rambling about a coincidence which has no basis in a causal link, just speculating. There are, unfortunately, many people who see memorials as an easy target for their deluded ideas.

Anger as Brechin WW1 commemorative artwork vandalised

Vandalised Brechin Memorial Art BBC Pic Credit Philip Ramshaw

Vandalised Brechin Memorial Art BBC Pic Credit Philip Ramshaw

Nov 15, 2018 Posted by | World War I, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum hidden tribute in Renfrew Street

I wonder how many have spotted this feature at the back door of the Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum in Renfrew Street?

I’ll certainly admit to never even looking here when I pass, being too busy with the unusual big head of Beethoven to be found atop the rear of the adjacent building (formerly Thomas Alfred Ewing’s piano warehouse facing onto Renfrew Street, by James Alexander Ewing, his brother).

But I was looking the other way, looking for the rear of the museum, and not expecting it to be easy to spot.

I was wrong.

These pics show what I found there.

RHF Museum Back Door

RHF Museum Back Door – Looking East


RHF Museum Back Door Looking West

RHF Museum Back Door Looking West

A closer look at each.

RHF Museum Back Door Mural

RHF Museum Back Door Mural


RHF Museum Back Door Mural

RHF Museum Back Door Mural

While I could wander along the top of a wall to get a decent view of one, I didn’t feel like climbing over the fence to get a better view of the other, but the application of a little ‘magic’ improved the skewed view.

RHF Museum Back Door Corrected

RHF Museum Back Door Corrected

Nov 11, 2018 Posted by | military, photography, World War I, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

This made me think of Largs

Like many other coastal facilities, Largs was home to a seaplane base during World War II.

Largs Seaplane Base

So far, I haven’t come across any archive footage showing this, or similar Scottish coastal bases, such as say Greenock, in operation.

So, when this popped up in one of my other alert streams, and I saw this new Chinese seaplane operating from the ramp, it made me think of the many ramps I’d found over the years at such bases along the Scottish coast, now mostly abandoned and decaying if some other option has not found a use for them, such as a sailing club.

Nov 2, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Transport, World War II | , | 2 Comments

Two stories that unfortunately coincided yesterday

I thought it was sad to see a story about Orange Moron taking us closer to disaster on the same day we heard of the death of a real hero who saved us from going down that road.


Donald Trump: US will build up nuclear arsenal


Joachim Ronneberg: Norwegian who thwarted Nazi nuclear plan dies


I’m not generally at a loss for words to express my feelings about many subjects, but this Orange Moron does quite a good job of bringing this about.


Maybe this reminder of the current time shown by the Doomsday Clock for 2018 is appropriate.


2018 Doomsday Clock 2 Minutes To Midnight


The last time it got down to 2 minutes was 1953!


The best it has been was 1991, when The United States and Soviet Union signed the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), and the Soviet Union dissolved on December 26.



2018 Doomsday Clock Statement, Science and Security Board, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Oct 23, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, military, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

AA Battery Blantyreferme – a quick (re)visit

Fortunate not to have been lost (like some) to redevelopment of the land, or some other major change, the Blantyreferme AA Battery was one that was handy for a visit some years ago, and also revisited by other who were kind enough to offer us their observations from visits made in later years.

You can read the notes made in those previous years here, in our main site.

It’s interesting to note that although our data was taken from public records, none of them seem to have referred to the name given to the restoration, The Whins Site. The alternatives in the records were Blantyre Ferme, Blantyre, or Uddingston.

AA Battery Blantyreferme

I suggest referring to this page while looking at the newer info.

Although I refer to ‘restoration’, be aware this refers only to the current remains, which have been cleaned up and made safe, and does not imply the battery has been restored to its wartime condition.

In fact, the battery site now lies within Redlees Park, a recent development dating from 2008, extended in 2012 to feature the remains as part of the park.

Signs posted at the entrances to the park show the area, and the location of the battery within the park.

Click for bigger – sorry for the reflections, but a protective sheet over the sign makes it hard to avoid.

Redlees Park Layout

Redlees Park Layout

Rather than waffling on, these signs from the restored site give an indication of the site’s structure.

They’re a bit grotty, but the originals are mounted at an angle for visitors to read, so I’ve had to edit them to correct for some hefty perspective distortion resulting from angle they were photographed at.

Click for slightly bigger.

The Whins Anti Aircraft Site

The Whins Anti Aircraft Site


The Whins Anti Aircraft Battery

The Whins Anti Aircraft Battery


The Whins Fixed Gun Emplacements

The Whins Fixed Gun Emplacements

The first sign is mounted on a viewing platform that overlooks the whole site, as seen in this stitched view.

Click to enlarge this view.

AA Battery stitch

AA Battery stitch

The original battery perimeter fence and gate remain largely intact.

While the original visits showed the local scum was smashing the battery’s remains for fun, they’ve decided to carry on vandalising it with slightly less destructive painting to decorate it to their taste, as seen from the nearby hill.

Battery Gate Entrance

Battery Gate Entrance

As seen from ground level.

AA Battery Site Entrance

AA Battery Site Entrance

There were a number of Tank Traps scattered around the area, and one has been made into a feature, in front of the main magazine building, and workshop to the right.

These traps were simply made, by pouring concrete into cylinder formed by some corrugated iron sheeting bent into circle.

The magazine building is covered with disgusting painted vandalism, which I’ve painted out as I will not give a public showing for the scum to point at say ‘I did that’.

Magazine Workshop Tank Trap

Magazine Workshop Tank Trap

Oct 2, 2018 Posted by | military, photography, World War II | | Leave a comment

Charles Frank 67 Saltmarket

I wrote a post a while ago, which seemed to get a bit of interest following the news that Maplin had folded, and was closing (everything).

That post had been about the earlier demise of electronics retailers in Glasgow, specifically RME in Stockwell Street.

Responses to those thoughts included mention of Charles Frank, an optical and scientific instrument maker who, together with his son Arthur, had shops in the city’s Saltmarket, and later, Ingram Street.

That venture came to an end in the 1970s, with the shops finally closing their doors for the last time in 1974.

In his time, Frank designed, sold, and repaired photographic and scientific apparatus from the Saltmarket premises, with Ingram Street being described as a more upmarket showroom for the sale of his scientific instruments.

While I was never aware of the Ingram Street venture, I was dragged along to his establishment in Saltmarket, which had become an outlet for various sort of surplus just before it closed. Seems it was fuelled by a flood of high quality ex-military optical and photographic equipment in the postwar years. Frank Ltd took advantage of this by buying at public auctions held by the military which had no use for the items, and then reselling them to the public.

I have (as a child at the time) some memories of the shop and stuff stacked in it. Some large reels of quarter-inch recording tape were bought, and maybe some assorted slide rules, but that’s all that stuck in my mind. I’d always imagined going there when I ‘Grew Up’ – but neither of those ever happened.

See the note at the end of this post – my useless memory had the wrong Saltmarket shop tagged as Frank’s.

I’m amazed at being so wrong for so long – when the dumb strikes, it strikes hard!

I just learnt of my mistake after noticing the ’30’ above its door – Frank’s shop was 67.

Time to start hunting for confirmation, and I did find this old B&W pic on a number of sites, credited to the Jewish Archive, but I couldn’t track down the original, they were all ‘re-use’.

CH Frank 67 Saltmarket Jewish Archive Pic

CH Frank 67 Saltmarket Jewish Archive Pic

That made the hunt a lot easier to complete, and we can see the same shop today.

It’s a slightly bigger image than usual, so you can click for bigger.

67 Saltmarket Gilt Edged

67 Saltmarket Gilt Edged

Intriguing changes – there are now FIVE assorted electrical/electronic control gear boxes planted on this short length of street; the low wall in St Andrews Street (on the left) has been considerably heightened; and the close entrance which sat in the middle of shop (to the right) has had its original width reduced, and is now considerably smaller than it used to be.

My mistake

As noted above, tiny memories are not always reliable memories, and I walked past a derelict Saltmarket shop for years, sadly thinking (wrongly) of it being the remains of Frank’s.

I always thought it was this one, just across from the long-established pet shop in Parnie Street.

(Just how long has that pet shop been there anyway?)

Not Former Charles Frank Shop Saltmarket

Not Former Charles Frank Shop Saltmarket

When this group of shops was ‘modernised’ some years ago, I was here regularly, and was sad to see a (presumably original) stained glass window above the door to number 30 was gone when the shutters came down to reveal the ‘improved’ premises. I’ve always wondered what happened to that panel, undamaged for as long I watched it. Skipped, or ‘liberated’ by some lucky builder or salvager?

Sep 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, military, photography, World War II | , , | 3 Comments

The Steinmeyer Legacy

It’s been some time since the story of Heinrich Steinmeyer and his bequest to Comrie first appeared in the news, and the size of his gift became apparent.

Now the story is coming to an end, with news of how his legacy will be used.

The late Heinrich Steinmeyer bequeathed his estate of almost £400,000 because of the kindness and humanity shown to him by local people at what he said was the lowest point in his life.

He later renounced the Nazis and said he had fought for Hitler as a soldier, not a criminal.

Aged just nineteen, Henrich was already a member of Hitler’s fanatical SS when he was captured in 1944 in France and joined other Nazi hardliners at the Cultybraggan Prison Camp in Perthshire.

When he went to fight for Hitler, he could hardly have imagined that his war would end in Scotland, and even less so that 70 years later his legacy would help people he once regarded as the enemy.

Whilst a prisoner of war, he was smuggled out of the camp by local girls who took him to the cinema.

He never forgot this kindness and after he died left his estate of nearly £400,000 to the people of Comrie.

Heinrich intimated that he wanted the elderly to benefit, and now his money is being shared amongst various projects including the community bus and the Silver Circle old folks group.

His presence in Comrie is now underlined even more by what has become known as the Steinmeyer Legacy.

Ken Heiser from the Steinmeyer Legacy Committee became one of Heinrich’s friends and scattered his ashes on a hill overlooking the camp.

He said: “I think he just wanted to show his appreciation of the friendship that he had here in Scotland.”

Former Nazi’s fortune devoted to causes in local village

I often wonder if those brought up in the recent years of the Internet can even comprehend the world of those born in Mr Steinmeyer’s world, understand the closed nature of the world he was raised in, appreciate how slow and limited the spread of news was, how easy it was for a dictator like Hitler to close his country’s borders, and make sure the only news the population heard was ‘his’ news. There were radios, the ‘Great Leader’ still had to get his message out – but get caught with a radio playing, or even tuned, to the BBC and your next public appearance was probably going to be in a concentration camp, or against a wall.

I don’t hear it said these days (well, those likely to are no longer with us), but I used to hear my elders say that the ‘lucky ones’ in World War II were those soldiers who survived to be taken prisoner, and transported out of the conflict if, like Mr Steinmeyer, their indoctrination was not complete.

I like the allocation of part of the legacy to fix up one of the huts in Cultybraggan for locals to use.


Sep 16, 2018 Posted by | World War II | , , | Leave a comment

RAF100 to visit the Glasgow Science Centre with five aircraft

Hopefully this won’t change after I mention it, but I spotted an interesting (free) event which is set to arrive at the Glasgow Science Centre this weekend (Friday to Sunday, 31 August to 2 September),  specifically…

Open on Friday 9am to 5.30pm – Last admittance is at 5pm.

Open on Saturday and Sunday 9am to 6pm – Last admittance is at 5.30pm.

On show:

  • Sopwith Snipe Biplane
  • Supermarine Spitfire MkVb
  • Harrier GR3 – (first VSTOL production aircraft)
  • Typhoon Full Scale Replica
  • F35 (LII) Full Scale Replica

Iconic fighter planes from past 100 years to go on display in Glasgow this summer as part of RAF100 Aircraft Tour

RAF100 Aircraft Tour Glasgow

RAF100 Aircraft Tour


RAF100 Publcity Image

RAF100 Publicity Image


Red Arrows cancel Glasgow flypast for RAF centenary

Aug 27, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War, photography, Transport, World War I, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Arctic Convoy museum receives funding assistance

I never really appreciated the detail of the Arctic Convoys until I did a little of my own research for a post, then realised I’d missed a lot with regard to this story.

Sadly, while education about this wartime effort is growing, this is only happening as the last few survivors have grown very old, and their numbers are dwindling.

There has always been some sort of memorial to those involved, but not a proper, formal museum.

However, ongoing efforts to create such a facility are moving towards a successful conclusion, and I noticed news of another award which the project will benefit from.

A project dedicated to World War Two’s Russian Arctic Convoys has received £72,820 from the Scottish Land Fund.

The Highlands’ Russian Arctic Convoy Project (RACP) will use the money to buy a former butcher’s shop in Aultbea for a new exhibition centre.

The nearby Loch Ewe was a gathering point for many of the convoys.

The Arctic Convoys transported four million tons of supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945.

More than 3,000 Allied seamen lost their lives to the freezing conditions and attacks during the trips to ports in the Arctic Circle after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Funds awarded to Aultbea, Aberdeen and Leadburn projects

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Aug 11, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

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