This week’s memories are provided by Keith Rowe who attended Daniel Stewart’s College and left in 1956. Keith says:
“In later classes in the primary school we became used to being there until 3.30 and we moved into newly-built classrooms in the grounds of the Dean House . They may not have been architecturally as spectacular as the main school but I have to say they were better heated!
From the front gates of the school I remember that the view was of vegetable gardens tended by older boys as their effort to ‘dig for Britain, and the right and left side areas, now the front lawns, were lines of air raid shelters. We were curious to see inside them but air raids on Edinburgh were very rare . It was long after the Battle of Britain and it was said that Hitler had a special liking for the city. The truth is probably that the dockyards and industry of Glasgow were a more important target in war. Every morning when we arrived at school we came through the splendid front gates past the War Memorial where we took off our caps in respect. We were not at that time aware of the heroes, former pupils of Daniel Stewart’s College who had fallen in both world wars but we were engendered with respect.
After a few years a former pupil, a pilot in the Coastal Command, came to the school. At morning assembly he told us the story of his Victoria Cross awarded for bringing his plane back home with several wounded on board. In spite of severe injuries himself, he saved several lives. He was Flight Lieutenant John Cruikshank (Editor’s note – John is the oldest living holder of the Victoria Cross and will reach his 100th birthday next month). Like many very brave men he was characterised by considerable modesty.
The CCF carried on until I left school: I know that it still thrives . Certainly as we approached the age of 18 we were aware that we would have to do National Service. Many boys must have benefited by being drilled by the school Janitor, an ex RSM from the Highland Light Infantry. I transferred after basic CCF training to the RAF section and attended several summer camps. At one station we were marched out onto the parade ground by a corporal who said ‘I believe you lads come frae Edinburry. What part do youse come from?’ Like an idiot I replied ‘Ectually ay come from Barnton’. For the rest of the week I was called out to the front to benefit from his special attention in the matter of small arms drill. ‘Will the gentleman from Baaarnton please take four paces forward and demonstrate………….’. I learned two things a) don’t do ‘posh and b) don’t encourage special attention! I was perfect at drill by the end of the week! On another occasion, in Germany, we were drilled by the Battalion Sergeant Major -a scary but very beneficial lesson. Two incidents outside the school curriculum but very important lessons.”