Headmaster's Logbook, February 1941


Headmaster’s Logbook, February 1941


February 1941

Headmaster – Dr William Barry

February 3rd, 1941

‘The “Alert” was sounded at 12.53pm and within three minutes all pupils were in their respective shelters, and everything was satisfactory. The “All Clear” sounded at 1.15pm when Secondary pupils were dismissed and sent to classes to continue fifth period lessons. Mr Robertson, Assistant Director in charge of Evening Confirmation Classes and Mr Brison, supervisor of physical education, called this afternoon re arrangements for use of classrooms by Youth Welfare Classes, and blacking-out of certain rooms for use of juveniles.’


February 4th

‘Sent two boys from Secondary Department home this afternoon for having gone out of school yesterday without permission and instructed them not to come back without their parents.’


February 7th

‘Headmaster was absent in the afternoon attending (i) meeting of Senior Secondary Headmasters regarding formation of Air Training Corps Flights and (ii) meeting of Heads from districts in which Fire Watchers have to be in action as from 11th February, 1941. Both meetings were held at 18, Park Circus and were presided over by the Director of Education.

Sent seven girls from Secondary Department home this morning for having walked out of school at end of fourth period yesterday and warned them not to come back until their parents saw me. Sent Attendance Officer to parents to acquaint them with their misbehaviour.’


February 10th

‘Convened a meeting of all teachers at 11.30am today in Room 16 and read to them the Circular from the Director of Education, stating that all men between 18 and 60 were compelled to give at least 48 hours per month as Fire Watchers or as members of a stirrup-pump team in connection with the Fire Prevention (Premises) Order 1941 recently issued. Two of the men - Messrs Coleman and Monaghan - are members of Home Guard: they along with Messrs Mathewson, MacKinnon, Walker and myself volunteered, and twenty of the women teachers.

Phoned numbers (per Miss Hall) to Director and returned form to Education Offices.’


February 11th

‘Interviewed mothers of girls sent home yesterday and learned that they had dealt with their daughters for their misdemeanour.

For tonight the following teachers are on duty from 8pm to 8am (Wednesday): Mr Monaghan, Mr McKinnon, Miss Reid and Miss Loudon. The Medical Room had been “blacked-out” for the men, and the bedroom in the Domestic Science Department at Westermains has been made ready for sleeping accommodation for the women.

Detective Lamont and a policeman called re brother and sister involved in thieving from outside premises during the week-end. Allowed Detective to question the children in my room and in my presence.’


February 12th

‘Mr Monaghan reported that while Medical Room was satisfactory as regards heating, the want of pillows and sufficient bedding was a drawback. In Westermains the only complaint was lack of ventilation due to celotex boarding on windows as black-out.’

Pupils in Primary and Secondary Departs were shown films in Room 10 of the Panama Canal and Scenes of Life in Jerusalem today during periods 3 and 4 (11.30 to 12.40pm) and from 2.30pm to 3pm by Mr Monaghan using the School Projector. The films were interesting and instructive, and were obviously enjoyed by the children.

On Monday 10th Feby during the time meeting of teachers was being held, two boys met with accidents – one, Hugh McKenna, Juniors fell on stone and hurt right brow: the other Martin Barry aged 13, Secondary Dept, Second Year, cut his left forefinger severely. Both were sent to local Doctor and had their wounds stitched. These accidents were reported to the Clerk, County Council.’


February 13th

‘Mr Gibb, Depute Architect for County called in afternoon regarding hatches that are in process of being cut out in ceilings of Rooms 12 and 18, the Gymnasium and Westermains House. These will give ready and easy access to attic of building on eastern and western ends, and to the Gymnasium and attic of Westermains House to combat incendiary bombs, should any fall during an air raid.

Instructions have also been given to Mr Fletcher, builder, to cut hatch through concrete roof of book store adjacent to Room 10, of girls’ lavatory opposite Room 18 and of covered way outside Art Room and give access to flat roof from inside building. Ladders are also being supplied for use at each hatch.’


February 14th

‘This morning all pupils were warned against coming on Monday first without their gas-masks, and advised to see that they were in good, serviceable condition and brought with them daily.

Today, Principal Teachers submitted estimates of prospective candidates’ ability in their respective subjects for the Senior Leaving Certificate Terminal Tests, due to be held from Monday 3rd March 1941. These are due to be in Director’s hands by 22nd Feby.

Air Raid Rehearsal took place at 3.25pm and finished at 3.40pm. Quite a number of pupils were without their gas-masks. Repeated warning of morning about seeing, during weekend, that gas-masks were available and not forgetting same on 17th February [the following Monday].


The following is copy of letter sent to the Director to-day:

“Dear Sir,

“Fire Prevention (Business Premises) Order 1941.

“In reply to your circulars, Nos. T.4/2/41 and 5/2/41 of 12th and 13th February, respectively, I enclose return showing the arrangements to come into force, as from week beginning Sunday, 16th February, 1941.

“At the Staff meeting on Monday forenoon nearly all the women teachers volunteered for service. I sent out letters to a number of former pupils over 16 years of age and invited them to a meeting on Wednesday evening, when I obtained names of volunteers. I am also utilising services of Senior (boy) pupils in V and VI years and of girls from same class for short periods on Saturday evenings. As from Tuesday 11th February, two men, two lady teachers and the Janitor have been on the premises each night under a provisional scheme.

“The ladies use the bedroom of the Domestic Science Department at Westermains and the men, the Medical Room in the main building. Bedding (pillows, blankets, mattresses) are required for at least five persons.

“In the return enclosed, teachers’ names are underlined, the first male teacher being in charge; former pupils are marked (F.P.) in brackets, and pupils presently in School (P.P.) in brackets.

“The School is occupied until 9pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and the Janitor and his brother are always on the premises. Fire Watchers for the night come on duty at 8pm, and remain until 8am next morning.

“Yours faithfully,

William Barry.”


[There follows a list of names of staff, former pupils and current pupils who make up the weekly rota.]


‘The following excerpt from the Circular T.4/2/41 issued as at 14th February, 1941 by the County Council of Dumbarton, under the above Order, has been intimated to the Teachers.

“Persons taking fire watching duty on County Council premises outwith normal working hours will be entitled for a continuous period of duty of not less than 4 hours to a subsistence allowance of 1/6d, and where the continuous period of duty d to not less than 8 hours to 2/6d.

“The foregoing will apply only where a meal or meals are actually consumed, but will not apply where meals are consumed at home.

“Where travelling expenses are necessarily incurred solely for the purpose of undertaking fire watching duty, the actual travelling expenses will be refunded.

“Claim forms are being prepared and will be issued shortly.” ‘


February 17th

‘Sent several pupils home to-day for gas masks. Have instructed teachers to inspect gas masks daily. Several pupils aver that their gas masks are in the hands of wardens or being repaired.’


February 18th

‘Meeting this afternoon in Education Offices in connection with Air Training Corps being established in different parts of the County. Meeting was addressed by Lt. Col. Russell, 120 Blacklock St, Greenock (Tel: Greenock 528). The main purpose was to recommend formation of ‘flights’, i.e. 25 to 30 youths, between the ages of 15 ½ and 17 ½, who would receive special tuition in physical education, mathematics, mechanics etc for a certain number of hours weekly. All tuition to be in keeping with R.A.F. schemes and standards. The ’flights’ and ‘squadrons’ would be the recruiting ground for all entrants to the R.A.F. whether for on or off the ground duties. When the scheme was on operation other recruits would be ineligible for the R.A.F. and would have to enter the Army or Navy.’


February 20th

‘The Art master – Mr Coleman – designed a diagram to further sales of War Savings Certificate. There has been a large increase in the number of Savings Certificates published during January, as compared with one in Nov., and three in December.

In the interests of thrift have suggested that teachers receive sums less than sixpence and credit same to each pupil until he/she has sixpence to buy a stamp. In Primary Department: 22 boys and 17 girls have been subscribing.

Gave unseen dictation and twenty hard words to Primary 5. Tone of class is excellent. Penmanship shows care and thoroughness. Spelling of hard words – topical names of things at present being spoken of – was satisfactory.’


February 24th

‘This school – Secondary Department – opened this morning at 8.45am and Primary Department at 9am.

Immunisation forms for names of pupils desiring inoculation against diphtheria were received from County Medical Officer of Health for distribution amongst pupils.

This afternoon two boys from Class IIC reported that they had seen a boy from another school come to the bicycle shed and take away at different times two bicycles. Sent boys to lad’s home, with instructions to report the matter to the Police if their visit was unsatisfactory.

Boys returned and said that parent had reported occurrence to police.’


February 26th

‘This being Ash Wednesday, Rev. Fr. Hamill spoke to Secondary and Primary pupils during time for religious instruction 8.50 to 9.30am.

Pupils went to Church to receive Holy Ashes during last period of forenoon session.

Bell outside Janitor’s Room has been repaired.’



February 28th

‘This morning received letter from Rev. J. Waters, Anglican Chaplain, H.M.S. ‘King George V’, thanking the pupils for sending three guineas towards library fund, and giving interesting comments on the voyage to U.S.A. with Lord Halifax on board, on the wonderful reception at Annapolis and the illuminations ashore and the fruit, vegetables and onions they were able to take on board, at a time when these – especially onions – are so scarce here. He enclosed a poem written by a young marine, entitled ‘To St Ninian’s’.

“We thank you – St Ninian’s

For all you have done,

From wardroom to messdeck

Your praises are sung.

From stem unto stern

From starboard to port

Each man sends his thanks

For the joys you have brought.


To keep the flag flying

We are doing our best.

You are helping us on

With your zeal and your zest.

When we tie up in port

When it’s anchor’s a-weigh

St. Ninian’s stands by us

Day after day.


While you stay at home

And as we roam the sea,

Each day brings us nearer

To our victory.

You are playing your part

In helping the Crown.

Keep going St Ninian’s,

We’ll not let you down.”


On behalf of the pupils, Dorothy Richardson, (12/26) IV year student, composed the following:

“To the ‘King George V’

“Neath dull, unchanging sky

With breakers mountain high,

Battling ‘gainst a head-on, raging gale,

Or under skies of blue,

If there is work to do,

We know that you will do it without fail.


Wherever you may be

Far out upon the sea,

Whether you’re in tempest or in calm,

St Ninian’s hopes and prays

That through these dang’rous days

You’ll ever sail undaunted free from harm.”