Tall tales from a flat island

For some, the war might be just a history lesson.  For others, the vigilance is still needed.  The safety of one small Orkney island, which was my home for a few very happy months, is for ever at risk of invasion from its neighbour across the Sound.

Its safety is, however, in good hands.  For every once in a while, a trusty band of faithful citizens man the guns, keeping their foe on their toes.

Flotta Volunteers

The West Hill Volunteers give up their time and their spirits to keep their island forever free.  Periodically they exercise in full uniform on West Hill.

Richard Shearer

Unfortunately on occasions the spirits go down before the guns go off, and so it has been known for those on parade to find keeping their face straight the hardest part of the exercise.

Davie Sinclair

However, we will remember them as they would wish to be remembered: for their faithfulness, their daring, their ability to overcome setbacks.  Like the time the gun wouldn’t fire the 21 gun salute, so rockets had to be used instead.

West Hill Volunteers

Gentlemen – we raise a glass to you.

Shearer, Sinclair and Gee

Historical notes: Mr R Shearer wears his grandfather’s WW1 uniform – James M Shearer was a lieutenant and was stationed at Neb Battery (in the West Hill).  Mr D Sinclair can still hold a gun correctly even if he has less control of his facial muscles.  He was a gunner in the Royal Artillery from 1954-56 when he did his National Service.  He still reels off his number – 23027750 – without hesitation.  He wears Richard’s father’s WWII greatcoat in the pix.  Mr K Gee, the ARP warden, had never ever been seen without his boiler suit and cannot therefore be expected to come on parade in anything else.  The Unit Photographer is P Gee, and the photos are copyrighted to him, I mean her.

2 thoughts on “Tall tales from a flat island

  1. What wonderful photos and an interesting story to go along with it…we will salute your soldiers, too!

    I was so happy to discover your blog, Liz (by way of the EZ yahoo group) A very good read!

    1. Hi Cary,

      Glad you enjoyed the tale! All three men have high powered jobs in real life – they are also very good at having fun!!

      I recognise the email address from posts on EZ!


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