Ma Wee Gas Mask

Before I start a post, I usually have a clear idea of what I want to write about. However sometimes I can get pulled off track and this evening was one of those occasions. So this is going to be a long post, but if you hang in, there’s a rather sweet Youtube video at the very end!

With the 70th Anniversary of D-Day rapidly approaching on June 6th, I thought it would be interesting to look at The Glasgow Herald from June 2nd, 1944 and see if I could find any hint of the approaching invasion.

As noted in previous blogs, paper rationing meant each issue was comprised of only 8 pages. The Glasgow blackout began at 11.52pm and ended at 4.28am, a far cry from six months earlier when it lasted from 5.25pm until 9.17am the following morning!

As always, the war news was buried in the middle of the paper, so there were all kinds of fascinating articles to read through first.

Films showing in Glasgow included:
Lifeboat – Tallulah Bankhead.
Jack London – Susan Hayward
Madame Curie – Greer Garson
For Whom the Bell Tolls – Gary Cooper
The Cross of Lorraine – Gene Kelly
Life and Death of Colonel Blimp – Deborah Kerr

A list of legacies given to The Western Infirmary – remember this was 4 years before the NHS came in to being.

Mr Herman Anton Andrews, a London banker, bought the Scottish islands of South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay. Following the purchase, the Scottish National Party sent him a letter detailing their concern that the buying up of large tracts of land by those operating from London and other centres outside the borders was contrary to the interests and people of of Scotland. (Given that Scotland is voting on Independence in September this year, I this particularly apt.)

And then came the war headlines.

Germans ‘getting a licking’ in Italy.

Notification that 47% of US Army troops (3,500,000 men) were stationed overseas.
The US Air Force had 50% of its personnel (2,357,000 men) and more than 50% of their machines stationed overseas.

Allied Gains on the Burma Front.

Three beachhead columns were moving on Rome.

4,000lb bombs were dropped at Roumania’s Iron Gate (where the Danube narrows), reducing German barge traffic and their ability to repair their railways.

Admiral Sir William M James, Chief of Naval Information in London, said the Navy would soon appear again in the public eye. ‘Before long, we shall reach that stage when we begin to launch a great amphibious expedition… We are going to have dramatic moments soon.” So there it was, the hint that something big was in the air.

And then it was back to general news, where one item in particular caught my attention. The Half-Past-Eight Show, starring entertainer Dave Willis was playing at the King’s Theatre.

As a child in the 60s, I remember going with my mother to see The Half-Past-Eight Show starring Dave Willis! I had no idea it had been going for so long. Before the 1930s, it had been the tradition for theatres to close during the summer when the citizens went on holiday. In the early 30s, however, it was decided to produce a high quality summer variety show. It was so successful it became an annual tradition lasting a long – long – time.

I seem to remember one of Dave Willis’s famous songs was about fox-hunting, but I’ve been unable to find any mention it on the internet. If anyone out there has any information, I would love it if you could send it to me.

Another song he sang during the war was Ma Wee Gas Mask.  I was unable to find a video of Dave Willis singing it, but I did find an absolutely charming video.  Enjoy!

In ma wee gas mask
Ah’m working oot a plan
The weans a’ think that Ah’m the bogey man
The girls a’ cry, an’ bring their friends to see
The nicest lookin’ warden in the A.R.P.

When there’s a raid on, ye ought tae hear me cry
‘An aeroplane, an aeroplane awa’ wa up a kye’
They a’ rin helter skelter, bit dinna rin efter me
Ye’ll no get in ma shelter for it’s faur too wee.

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