PART II: 1900 - 1950
unique to the Home Guard: the Smith gun and the Northover Projector. Between 1940 and their eventual disbandment in 1944, the Home Guard in Peebles and the county trained regularly; in all, the battalion numbered between 800 and 900 men at any given time and altogether almost 2,000 passed through the ranks of the unit.
As the war proceeded, with the British Army largely confined to the United Kingdom, the only overseas campaigns being the Far East disaster and the relative stalemate of the Western Desert, it became obvious that any immediate offensive against a German-held Europe must be from the air. As a consequence of this an ambitious scheme to form an Air Training Corps from boys between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years was launched. The Peeblesshire News for 7 March 1941 carried this message and No 330 Squadron, the Peeblesshire unit of the Air Training Corps, was founded.
The first commanding officer of the new squadron was Mr Henry Ballantyne, with the rank of flight-lieutenant. The. immediate response to the appeal produced fifty; by February 1943 there were 170 in the county. No 1 and 2 Peebles Flights were commanded by Flying Officer Souter with Pilot Officers J. Derrick and J. Rankine. Amongst the first to enlist was Tom Murdoch, No 1, and Alex Walker (later Provost Walker) was No 3 to enlist. Amongst those who became NCOs and who subsequently were to serve in the Royal Air Force or Fleet Air Arm were Flight-Sergeant Hutchison, Sergeant R. Dickson, Sergeant R. Allan, Corporal Alex Walker and Corporal Alex McGill, these being the first promotions on the formation of the unit.
In the course of its existence the Peeblesshire ATC had an extremely efficient pipe-band, formed within the first six months of its creation. Sport also had an important part in the new unit's activities. The football XI played in the ATC Edinburgh and District League, winning it in 1943, captained by Alex Walker, but losing the Cup final against Broxburn; Andrew Naysmith of Innerleithen was capped for the ATC Scotland during his service.20
In a more serious vein the corps held weekend training camps at Broughton and annual camps were held at Macmerry and Drem where cadets had flying training in RAF training aircraft, notably Rapides, Tiger Moths and Beauforts. Many aircrew recruits were produced by the ATC. Some were to see active service and indeed were to lose their lives in the course of the war. Similarly, many more served as RAF ground staff.21