War Time in Colintraive
Defence of the Kyles
In the first years of the war German aircraft mined the Kyles of Bute. A naval station was established where the house Craigs now stands. To keep a watch for the enemy a lookout post was set up at the Boathouse. The British navy mined the Kyles again to deter spies or raiding troops from landing there.
About the same time a mock village was built on the northern tip of Bute. This was lit up at night to act as a decoy for the German bombers who were raiding Clyde towns. Fortunately, none arrived.
Training for D Day
Argyll became a training area for the troops about to take part in the D-Day landings the landings. Some local people have memories of waking to find tanks lined along the Colintraive road. During these exercises, training groups of soldiers would act as defenders and the others as the invaders then they would change over and start the fight again. Landings were from landing craft and Churchill tanks disembarked regularly at Braingortan on Loch Striven. Accidents inevitably happened and on at least one occasion a lorry was driven off the landing craft into deep water. it remained unrecoverable until the low tide.
Naval Training in the Colintraive Area
Naval warships, firing from off Arran, used Strone Point for target practice and the house at Inverneil and the farm at Glaic were evacuated. Inverneil was returned intact, but Glaic was damaged farm and not tenanted again. After the war, a great deal of unexploded ordinance was regularly uncovered during ploughing. There may be still shell fragments buried deep into the heather hillside.
The Midget Submarines in Loch Striven
Loch Striven was used as a training area for midget submarines called X-Craft. These were about fifteen metres long and had a crew of three or four. The mini subs carried two explosive charges strapped to the side of the hull. These were designed to be dropped below the target and exploded. On the 11th of September 1943 six X-Craft left Loch Striven, towed by ‘mother’ submarines. Their mission was to attack the German battleship Tirpitz, which was at anchor in a Norwegian fiord. The attack was successful, although only two of the X-Craft reached their target and the Tirpitz was severely damaged. The officers who were in command of each these submarines were given Victoria Crosses.
At the end of the war the mines laid in the Kyles were detonated by the M.O.D. The school children were taken out of the classroom in case the school was damaged! Some still remember the enormous explosions, there were sheets of water rising in the air and the debris raining down, including dead fish.