|Matthew Joseph Lannon 1914 - 1993|
Matthew Joseph Lannon 1914 - 1993
Joseph Lannon was born in
The picture below on
the left shows Matthew, front right, with his siblings and
grandfather and grandmother Glavine. The right
picture shows Matt just before he left for
The Golspie site, a camp of prefabricated type, is now hidden by trees which have been planted on the slopes of Ben Bhraggie. It was formerly used by Honduran forestry workers for over a year in 1941-42 but they do not appear to have been very industrious and left the camp in a very poor condition when they left. Apart from the normal wear and tear and neglect it is said that they also indulged in some wonton vandalism. After they moved on elsewhere the Newfoundlanders moved into the camp in 1942 and brought a completely different work ethic. They were very hard working worked a five and a half day week at a rate of two dollars per day. It roughly calculated that this would have been about 8/6d as the Canadian dollar exchange at the time was probably about 4/3d.
The movement across the
The main mode of travel at this time, in the
1920s and 1930s, from
The SS Ettrick off Inveraray in Lock Fyne where it was providing accommodation for members attending The Combined Training Centre based there.
The SS Ettrick was not a particularly
imposing ship. She
was a steamer built for passengers in 1939 but which was
quickly requisitioned for the war effort. The Ettrick
journeyed in early July 1940 from Liverpool to
The SS Ettrick Convey HX 62, comprising initially 37 ships but increased to 67 when joined by Sidney and Bermuda convoys, sailed from Halifax on 31st July 1940 and arrived in Liverpool on 15th August though she most probably then proceeded to Glasgow as the convey record records Glasgow as her final port of call and additionally Matt said that he landed in Glasgow.
The Ettrick sailed in the middle of the convoy and it is reported that Commodore R B Ramsey, as Vice-Commodore of the convoy and aboard the Ettrick, said she was a great help in this position in keeping the convoy together.
Commodore's recorded comments are as follows:
"The convoy behaved excellently, and all did well. The master of S.S. Lindenhall, Captain F. H. Wainford, (the Commodore's ship) and his officers did everything possible to assist me."
And he says there was "dense fog 3 hours after leaving
Apart from fog and usual difficulties of keeping such a large convoy together this voyage was without special incident while under my command. I would like to say that Commodore R.B. Ramsey as Vice Commodore in S.S. Ettrick was of the very greatest help and his position in the middle of the convoy did a very great deal to keep the convoy together.
With reference to the junction of the Halifax, Sydney and Bermuda sections I suggest that the air escort and local escort from Halifax of the Halifax portion should on their return to Halifax harbour report how late (if late at all) the H.X. portion is likely to be at the junction with the other two portions and that Halifax radio should broadcast this to the Halifax, Sydney and Bermuda portions, no answer being required. Also, I think that the distance of 20 miles between the parallel routes is too great, and should be reduced to 12 miles."
The SS Ettrick's end came on 15th November
1942 when she was torpedoed by German U155 whilst part of
a convoy in the
The wedding of
Matthew Joseph Lannon and Annie Isabella Fraser Melville
at Dingwall in September 1945.
Left to Right; Joey Melville (nee Angus, Cathel Melville’s widow), Matthew Lannon, Annie Melville, Barbara Melville, George Melville (Wordie), Mary Melville (nee Sutherland, Neddie Melville’s wife) and Grandfather, George Melville. In the front; David Melville (Cathel and Joey Melville’s son) and Don Melville (George and Jessie Melville’s son).
Matt worked for almost all of his working life after the Second World War with the building firm of James Sutherland and Son. The family firm were nicknamed ‘Meam’s’ derived, I assume, from a common corruption of the name James. The photo below shows the yard.
Concrete blocks for house building were produced in great numbers but a laborious manual method. An oblong wooden plate or palate large enough to accommodate one block was inserted into a machine with four sides that flapped out open. One inserted a lever was pushed and the centre area depressed and the sides of the box came up to form a mould in which a block was to be formed. Cement was shoveled into the box and a heavy top plate on a high handle was used to hammer down the mixture. Once this process was completed the lever on the machine was pulled to raise the centre and drop the sides revealing a perfectly formed block sitting on the palate of wood. Each block was produced this way and set out for drying and curing. Cement for the process was mixed in a petrol driven concrete mixture which was filled by one or two men using just hand held shovels.
Other building materials produced at the yard included, lintels and sills for houses, kerbing stones and milestones. Those milestones can still be seen on the verges of the Sutherland roads though they are disappearing with the advent of modern signage.
One stone still in perfect condition is situated on the lawn in front of the Sutherland Arms Hotel in Golspie. This stone indicates the miles to nearby and more distant settlements. It was made by my father and his elderly workmate, Willie Campbell. I am told that they put their names in an empty tobacco tin and inserted this in the centre of the mixture before completing the production of the stone.
The distances relate to the old road rather
than the actual distance to places, such as
The business hit
financial problems and was taken over by Alexander
Sutherland’s and this business was in turn taken over by
Morrison’s of Tain. My
father reluctantly moved from his place of long time
endevours less than half a mile along the
During the early months of his illness Sutherland’s was taken over by Morrisons and some of the workforce received redundancy payments. My father was not so lucky as his new employers would not make him redundant on the pretext that it would be unfair dismissal. It certainly saved them having to pay money to him and he had to leave employment without getting what he, and many others, considered to be his due.
After his marriage
Matt and Annie lived in the Melville family home on
showing Matt with Cecil Melville, Joey Melville the widow
of Cathel Melville, young David Melville, Cathel and
Joey's son, and
Allan Lannon was taken in the garden of the house on
Not long after the
The photo above shows Matt, Allan and James
in the front garden of
Later the fences were removed the, full length lawns either side of the path were laid and vegetable were restricted to the side and back of the house. Even here there was a small vegetable plot as a small lawn was laid below the back livingroom window. Even with those changes there was ample room for potatoes, carrots, cabbage and lettuce. The family waited impatiently for the first boiling of the new potatoes which we simply had with lashings of butter. The lettuce also came part of a ritual with the earliest crop being tested in a thick Morrison's bread sandwich and with a sprinkling of salt to bring out the clear crisp flavour of the leaves.
Carrots were probably Matt's best vegetable crop. The rich sandy soil, which was annually manured, produces large and tasty carrots which could be stored for use throughout the winter. The storage was in large square, wooden tea boxes which we hardly ever see nowadays. The carrots were layered between clean dry sand and they seems as good at the end of the winter as when they were placed in the box. Potatoes too were stored but in their case in a potato pit comprising straw covered with a thick layer of earth.
The quality of those vegetables was a testament to the care and attention given to the soil with the addition of the good old farm dung and the recycling of composed from the truly massive compost heap constructed at the rear of the large garden shed.
It is worth
mentioning that Matt was not just a vegetable gardener. He
had a fine array of flowers out the front of the house
with his dahlias but exceptionally impressive. Many were the
size of dinner plates and of beautiful colours. Some of the
tubers he dried but many were left in the ground over the
winter and they did not come to any harm.
The picture above shows the front garden of
The picture below shows Matt outside Allan's
After the start of
Matt's illness it was necessary to move to a house on the
flat without steps for access to any part of the property. This resulted in
a moved to
For about 20 years
after his first stroke he 'enjoyed' a happy home life
despite his repeated mini strokes. The picture
below shows Matt and Annie in there house in
a major stroke in 1993 Matt spent many weeks in hospital
in Wick and the Cambusavie Wing of the
burial took place in Golspie cemetery on 5th October 1993.
Chief mourners - Allan
Lannon, Ian Lannon, James Lannon, Cecil Melville, John Melville, John Melville,
Don Melville, Jimmy Melville, Wattie Pumphrey, Donnie Findlay, Graeme
MacKenzie, Alec Smith. Cause of death pneumonia after a severe stroke.
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