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mbriscoe

The Moidart Sniper by Fergie MacDonald

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mbriscoe

There is a review in this week's Lochaber Times of a book published next week - The Moidart Sniper.

 

Preview on PressReader (accessible through most library sibscriptions)

 

https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-press-and-journal-inverness-highlands-and-islands/20180910/283150019584783

 

There is a talk by the author at The Highland Bookshop next week

 

Quote
Fergie MacDonald - Music & Conversation- Tuesday September 18th at 7pm
 
Written with his good friend Allan Henderson the book tells the incredible story of John MacDonald, a young Gaelic speaker from a crofting community in Moidart who goes off to war! From mobilisation in 1914 to the armistice in 1918, he was at the sharp end of operations from Suvla Bay in Gallipoli to the Somme on the Western Front. In Gallipoli he was a battalion sniper with his unit - 1st Lovat Scouts. On the Western Front he was a trained sniper and observer, having graduated from the elite Lovat Scouts Sharpshooters course at Beauly in 1917. Fergie has also promised us a wee tune or two!
Tickets are £5 (includes a refreshment and £2 off a copy of "The Moidart Sniper" - usually £10) and are available from The Highland Bookshop.

 

 

 

 

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o j kirby

I am looking forward to this!

I had the pleasure of twice meeting old Ton MacDonald, and he related his war experiences to me. The Legendary Fergie, amongst his many trades, was my Dad's osteopath. Fixed his bad back.

 

Cheers,

Owain.

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mbriscoe

He said the records of the Lovat Scouts (Sharpshooters) were lost in the WWII fire but I think that was mainly things like service records, sure there will be something somewhere on the unit.

 

Duncan MacGillivray was there with his son and had brought the telescope that Fergie'f father had retrieved after his grandfather left behind when they were retreating.  He also played the pipes.

 

I am trying to find out where there drill hall was in Moidart, though might not have been purpose built drill hall.

 

 

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o j kirby

I have just placed my order for the book. I am sure that I will enthuse about it on the forum.

 

The Lovat Scouts are a neglected subject, and the Sharpshooters virtually unknown to most.

 

Watch this space!

 

Owain.

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mbriscoe

Still trying to work out where the drill hall / station was.  All I know is that it was at Shielbridge, nothing marked on any maps I have seen.  Though I think he says they mobilised at the start of WWI at Acharacle and also they kept their horses in Mingarry Woods.

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seaJane

If I'd known I'd have gone looking when I was in the Moidart area in 2015!

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mbriscoe
9 minutes ago, seaJane said:

If I'd known I'd have gone looking when I was in the Moidart area in 2015!

 

I have someone knowledgeable about the area asking around.  Might take a run up there as well and ask around.  It is possible they were using an existing hall or barn, their officer was Lord Howard so he might have supplied a building.  There were not many of them so would not have to be large and not the modern concerns about keeping their guns securely locked away.

 

 

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seaJane

We spent the first part of our honeymoon in Acharacle in 1999 and I'm sure there were one or two likely buildings.

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Waddell
15 hours ago, o j kirby said:

I have just placed my order for the book. I am sure that I will enthuse about it on the forum.

 

The Lovat Scouts are a neglected subject, and the Sharpshooters virtually unknown to most.

 

Watch this space!

 

Owain.

 Owain,

 

Where did you order the book from?

 

Scott

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mbriscoe

The book has privately published by Fergie.

His website is

http://fergiemacdonald.com/

You can order the book there direct from him.

 

 

 

 

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MBrockway
19 hours ago, mbriscoe said:

It has to be remembered that the present Shiel Bridge was built in 1935.

 

There is a largish building on earlier maps just South of the old Shiel Bridge which gone completely. 

 

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=56.7555&lon=-5.8076&layers=6&b=1

 

Maps OS and BING

 

Capture2.JPG.15731e581edc815052d5b5e1816f8b92.JPGCapture1.JPG.4946b8af6bfd84444c0332d4e29a8523.JPGCapture.jpg.982baaa8a2b143b1bc2164109c3a50f0.jpg

 

The large building on the knoll immediately south of the old bridge is SHIELBRIDGE HOUSE.  It was demolished in the early 1950's.

 

See here:

The 1875 OS map shows an inn at this location.  On the 1900 version it is no longer labelled such, but has the same approximate footprint, so it looks like the house was either adapted from the original inn, or the inn was demolished and Shielbridge House built on the same plot.

 

Certainly the building in 1950 looks rather grand for a highland inn.

 

UPDATE: the inn was indeed demolished and the new Shielbridge House built on its plot in approx 1900.  See this further post from the Acharacle In The Past Facebook site:

Shielbridge House is the large white building in the middle distance immediately above the Loch Shiel Hotel.  If you click on the photo, it opens up much larger.  The commentary notes explain further.  Unfortunately nothing about the drill hall though.

 

 

This area has fond associations for me - my sister got married at Castle Tioram, which is reached from the minor road branching west from the north end of the old bridge ... a good long time after 1950 mind!  :P

 

Mark

 

Edited by MBrockway

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mbriscoe

I wondered if that was Shielbridge House, they could have been give the use of an outbuilding of course.

 

The Inn disappears from the Valuation Roll around 1890 - you can search the rolls free but you do not see the complete entries.  I posted in the Drill Hall thread that I saw several unrecorded drill halls there - Dalmally, Ballygrant, Tayinloan, Glenbarr, Kilkenzie, Jura.

 

It can be quite frustrating finding drill halls, the original one in Fort William is marked on older maps but it is written across in such a way as could refer to several buildings.  As often happens, there are many mentions in old newspaper but they rarely say where it was because obviously everyone in the town or village knew!  It is fairly obvious when you look on the ground which it was almost certainly was.

 

I used to often visit Castle Tioram when I had visitors but I think it was fenced off last time I looked and difficult to park at the end of the road.   Last time I was looking around Acharacle, it was to find the site of the Decca Navigator station.

 

 

Edited by mbriscoe

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MBrockway

My mother's in Taynuilt, so I'll have a wee look around Dalmally for the Drill Hall next time I'm up to see her, but that'll probably not be till Christmas/Hogmanay now.

 

I chanced across John Smith's birthplace completely by accident last time I wandered around the village!   And we'd only gone to see his grave on Iona the previous summer.

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MBrockway

A better photo of Shielbridge House from the same Facebook site.  Certainly MUCH grander than an old highland inn!

 

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mbriscoe

They could have used a church hall as seems to have happened a lot during WWI but it appears to have continued for sometime after WWI.

 

There is a rifle range shown on the 1890 and 1900 map which would fit with there being Rifle Volunteers in the village. Interesting looking at the maps, forgot that the road South towards Oban is new and there used to be the road around by the church and the military road towards Inveraray - we used to use that occasionally. 

 

Quote

Army and Navy Gazette - Saturday 27 January 1912

The drill halls at Oban and Lochgilphead have been completed, and the building of the new drill hall at Ballygrant will shortly be proceeded with. Sanction has been given by the military authorities for the erection of a rifle range at Bowmore, Islay, for the use of G Co. 8th Batn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. A proposal has been received by the Association from the Marquis of Breadalbane to make the accommodation at Dalmally Drill Hall larger than that sanctioned by the War Office, and as Lord Breadalbane's proposal seems reasonable one, it has been submitted to the War Office for approval. The County Association have agreed to leave the period of re-engagement of timeexpired men to the discretion of officers commanding units.

 

 

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mbriscoe

I don't remember seeing any mention of Shielbridge House being used in WWII.

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Waddell
5 hours ago, mbriscoe said:

The book has privately published by Fergie.

His website is

http://fergiemacdonald.com/

You can order the book there direct from him.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you.

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Richmond

Glad that the link was added, book now ordered. The only other book I am aware of is 'The Story of the Lovat Scouts' by Michael Melville. Looking forward to reading this book.

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Waddell
4 hours ago, Richmond said:

Glad that the link was added, book now ordered. The only other book I am aware of is 'The Story of the Lovat Scouts' by Michael Melville. Looking forward to reading this book.

 

My copy of the book arrived yesterday. Looking forward to reading it as it has plenty of Gallipoli content.

 

Richmond,

 

This book was released earlier this year and has been mentioned on the forum-

 

http://www.thehighlandersmuseum.com/store/hunstantons-highland-heroes/

 

https://www.lynnnews.co.uk/news/new-book-tells-the-tale-of-hunstantons-highlanders-9001302/

 

I have not read it but it looks interesting as it documents the Lovats time in Norfolk.

 

The only other book I have on the unit is L. Barlow and R.J Smith's Lovat Scouts and Scottish Horse from the Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Forces (1794-1914) from the mid 1980's.

 

Not a lot of books about the Lovats unfortunately.

 

Scott

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Steven Broomfield

I believe The Moidart Sniper is available from the Highlanders Museum at Fort George.

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