DOWN MEMORY LANE, Bulleted Bellochantuy is front page news

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Second World War machine-gunfire above Ballochantuy made front page news in an English newspaper in 1939.

The Northern Echo, a regional daily newspaper, based in Darlington in North East England, included two small reports in its Thursday, September 28, 1939 edition, headlined: ‘Machine-gun bullets from ‘plane hits Scots village,’ and ‘Machine-gunned Scots village.’

Both reports tell of the same incident, when a ‘spray of machine-gun bullets from the air’ hit ‘Ballachantuie (sic), a hamlet ten miles from Campbelltown (sic), Argyllshire.’

One said that a plane could be heard but not seen and no one was hurt.

The other reported that many children, including evacuees from Glasgow, were playing on the beach at the time.

It added: ‘Mr. D. Smith, of the Ballachantuie, was in the hotel garage when a bullet struck the roof.

‘A number of nickel-case bullets were picked up. The plane made a second visit.’

The front page was re-printed in the September 28, 2013, edition of the Northern Echo, in the newspaper’s ‘Memories: A page in history’ feature which was brought into the Courier office by Pat MacPherson.

The Bellochantuy articles appear alongside several others about World War Two, which had only broken out 25 days earlier, on September 3, 1939, in the broadsheet newspaper costing one penny.

One, headlined ‘U-boat told the Browning to search for Royal Sceptre men’ reports that the master of the British ship Royal Sceptre, James Gair, had died and nine other men were injured by gunfire while abandoning the boat which was sunk in the Atlantic by a U-boat.

It reads: ‘After the ship had been sunk, about 300 miles west of Ushant, the submarine stopped another British steamer, the Browning, and instructed her to search for the Royal Sceptre’s boats.’

Another article, ‘Warsaw’s last ditch surrender’, tells of the ‘heroic defenders of Warsaw’ surrendering to the Nazis after 20 days of bombing and shelling.

With the city centre ‘blazing’ with numerous fires ‘out of control’ confirmation came in an Exchange message from Warsaw that an armistice had been agreed upon and that conditions for capitulation were being discussed.

Another article reports that the Western Front had been quiet, with ‘only skirmishes and scouting activity’ being reported.

It also said that four German planes had been shot down and that German long-range guns had shelled several French villages and roads.

Other subjects hitting the headlines besides the war, include the increasing price of tobacco and sugar, the fact that income tax rose by 2d, and the appointment of a United Kingdom representative to Eire.

The appointment came in light of what at-the-time Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, Anthony Eden, described as ‘the special problems arising out of the war situation in regard to their mutual trade, economic and political relations’.

Another article, titled simply ‘Football pools’ warned that the Postmaster-General had informed the Football Pools Promoters’ Association that due to the extra pressure on the Post Office caused by the war, the resumption of the football pools could not be justified.

The front page of the Northern Echo on Thursday, September 28, 1939. NO_c40bellochantuy01

An article reporting the machine-gunfire over Bellochantuy. NO_c40bellochantuy02

Another report of the bullets falling as children played on the beach. NO_c40bellochantuy03