Aberdeen Scotland, March 1945. Sid and I boarded the night train to Aberdeen, leaving London and the flying rockets behind. This train was crowded and even more so than when I last went to Scotland in 1943. Amongst all the crowd of airmen, sailors, and soldiers from all nations, it seemed there were the girls in uniform, mostly British ATS , WRENS and WAAFs. They, like us, were on leave. Crammed into compartments on the night train, friendships were struck, probably names exchanged and addresses, but more than likely this was just people passing in the night and when we reached Aberdeen they went their way and we our way. But the comradeship was there and they were enjoying life as we were, away from the war even for a brief leave.
Sid and I arrived in the early morning hour in Aberdeen, strode off the train into a city that I was familiar with, and crossed the street from Union Station and walked into the Criterion Bar owned and operated by Johnny Frost, a good friend of my uncle Jack's. Johnny Frost remembered me and if I'm correct, likely bought us a drink to welcome us to Aberdeen. He likely added have you been down to the Neptune bar to see your uncle yet? We said we were just off the train but would go to the Neptune right away. So we boarded a #14 bus and along with fishwives and dockyard workers made our way down to the foot of Dee and out at the stop with in a few feet of Uncle Jack's pub the Neptune.
Uncle Jack was more than pleased to see us and of course he and Sid hit it off. Jack thought we were still in Italy. Like he did in 1941 Uncle Jack said once again have you been to see your aunt Cis yet? We said no came here first so like before he was going to take charge and with away you go see your aunt and I will see you later. So Sid and I went to 15 Ashley Park N where uncle Jack, aunt Cis and family lived. Drew, the oldest, was home on leave from the Navy. Shelia was about twelve and Norman seven or eight. What a welcome we received! Aunt Cis had the kettle on for a spot of tea and seeing it was lunch time made us lunch. After all night on the train we likely looked a bit shop worn. Aunt Cis said the towels are where they always were and the bath is ready for who wishes to get in first. Sid and I had each a bath and a good lunch and spent some time with aunt Cis, then the two of us went down to the Neptune Bar.
The Neptune was right down almost on the water front with ship chandler, warehouses, and ship building yards all around.
This was the area that the Germans bombed early in the war and off and on until nearly the end. While the Germans were bombing the ship yards a bomb landed across the street from the Neptune killing forty people in the bar and completely gutting the top story of the bar. This bomb cut the end of the tail from the bar cat who went around with a shortened tail for the rest of its days. Uncle Jack was going from one section of the bar to the other when the bomb struck the road outside.The blast threw him up against the wall, bruising him and cutting him in a number of places. In all it was a terrible experience.
When I first visited the Neptune in 1941 the bar had been rebuilt but the upper floors were still fire and bomb gutted [on visiting the Neptune in 1984 It is now just a one storey building and of course Uncle Jack long gone ]. The characters that were patrons of the Neptune were the type that a good writer could write a book about. Such names as Shetland Jock, Fogey's Jim, Grandmother, the Gover, The Wolf, Froster, and many more. I will try to bring some of them to life in print so you can enjoy these truly great folk .