Calum Morrison

Location: KIntyre
ww1 and ww2

A mysterious machine gunning incident

Everybody who lived in Kintyre and the town of Campbeltown during World War Two has a tale to tell about air raids and incidents occurring during these years. However, one particular episode remains a mystery and we may never know the full story.

On September 27th 1939, just three weeks into the Second World War, the small village of Bellochantuy, situated on the west coast of Kintyre and ten miles north of Campbeltown, was sprayed by machine gun bullets from an aircraft flying over the village. It was one of the first, if not the first British buildings to be damaged by military action during the war.

At the time, the Bellochantuy Hotel’s proprietor, Mr Daniel Smith, recalled the incident. His attention was first aroused when he heard an aircraft fly past. “I ran out on to the road but although it was a clear day I could see no sign of the plane as it must have veered out of sight over the land. About 15 minutes later, after I had gone back into the hotel, I heard the plane again. This time there were three separate bursts of machine gun fire and I heard bullets hitting the roof of the hotel. There was a crash and I discovered a skylight window in one of the bedrooms had been smashed. Also a bullet was on the floor and there was a distinct mark on the ceiling where it had struck and ricocheted.”

A housemaid at the hotel, Skye-born Miss Nellie Nicholson, said she saw a plane at a terrific height about 20 minutes before the gunfire was heard. However, she could not make out what type of plane it was or even its colour. Also Alexander McGuire, who kept hens across the road from the hotel and school, had to run for shelter as the bullets rained down. Ironically, several hotel residents, including a lady from Greenock with her two grandchildren from Surrey, had chosen to stay in Kintyre to avoid the expected blitz and invasion of Southern England as hostilities began.

Bellochantuy man Mr Duncan Blackstock remembered the incident. At the time he was a youngster and had recently left school. He later told his local paper the Campbeltown Courier, “The people that were out and about heard the rush of the bullets but thankfully no one was killed or injured. It happened so fast and was over before people realised what had happened.

Mr Smith, the owner of the hotel, reported the matter to the police, who investigated, but all records have since been destroyed.

As told by Calum Morrison

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