What follows is an edited version of a discussion between Donald Morrison MBE and Cathie Montgomery about Glenbranter Camp.
“…….I was employed by the Ministry of Labour at Glenbranter Camp for about six years as a driver and relief electrician. At that time there was no electricity in the district and they had to generate their own power. Shortly after Glenbranter Camp was built another was built at Glenfinnart, Ardentinny and then one at Cairnbaan near Lochgilphead – those two were more of the conventional type but Glenbranter had comfortable Nissan huts with a coal fired stove and electricity. A number of staff was employed there – a Manager, Under Manager, Accounts Officer and a Camp Steward who attended to rations as well as Cooks and Orderlies. There was no scarcity of food-three square meals a day and again a supper at night – extras were always available.There were instructors in metal work and joinery and PT (Physical Training)as well as office staff and maintenance staff. At one point gardening classes took place at Benmore.
An Education Officer furthered the men’s education and an Entertainments Officer organised good concerts and sing songs as well as bringing in entertainers from outside. Medical Issues were dealt with by the Medical Orderly who would call in the local doctor is necessary. People who were ill could also make use of the Sick Bay. Twice a week a lorry load of men were transported to the cinema in Dunoon and each week-end some men were allowed leave – they were conveyed to Strone Pier where they joined the steamer to Gourock, then train to their destination.
Relations between trainees and staff were very good but if a man required serious discipline he could be dismissed and sent home. There were quite a number of men,who, when their training was completed, were placed in jobs with Public Works contractors.
The lads didn’t talk about how many weeks they still had to do. One night a week they got a pie for their tea. So they counted their time in pies. They had two pies to go or three pies to go – that is how they counted the time. Some trainees who couldn’t find work when they left, volunteered to come back for a second time. I met one or two in the army and they were full of praise for Glenbranter Camp. Once in the army, in Germany a sentry halted us – when I shouted back the sentry said is that you Donald? He was a former trainee and recognised my voice!……”