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Newspaper extract of Naval Reservists departing from Embo Station
Newspaper extract of Naval Reservists departing from Embo Station

Newspaper clipping with monochrome photograph of Naval Reservists being wished 'Bon Voyage' on leaving Embo Station two days after the declaration of war on 3rd September 1939. The accompanying text records the reservists included five Mackays; Willie (Sant), Willie (Niggle), William (Peaso), David (Whitan) and Jack, with Tom Fraser the sixth. The local girls included Johan Mackay, Jessie Thom, Barbara Ross, Jessie Fraser, Jessie Mackay, Nan Smith, Eileen Fraser and Bella Fraser.
Picture added on 02 July 2010
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Hidden Gems
Although I was only born in Embo in 1939 I know several of the people in this photograph by face. The woman partially hidden at the extreme back middle of the photograph is Johan Mackay who we knew in Embo as Johannie aigh Sheen. She was a first cousin of my father,another of the many Embo William Mackays, and he was distinguished from the others by the byname “Willie M”. Johannie had a great sense of humour that was sometimes a bit cruel. I remember that in about May 1944 a large contingent of the British Army arrived in Embo and camped in the “banks” towards Dornoch. I was with Johannie at the window of our then home at 2 MacLeod Terrace, Embo when we first saw the Bren gun carriers, heavy lorries and soldiers and she convinced me that they were Germans! While I was screaming in terror she was singing a then hit song with the lyric something like “Bring the targets nearer”. Lately from the TV History Channel I have seen that these army units were part of the phantom 4th British Army which was created and deployed by Churchill to convince Hitler that Norway was to be invaded at the same time as France. This was to stall Hitler from sending his scarce tank divisions based in Norway to France. It appears that the ruse worked.
The others in the photo that I can name for certain are Jessie Ross and Nan Smith . Jessie is on the extreme right of the second row and was known in Embo as “Jessie Kay” (Kay as in Mackay). Nan is kneeling in the front and is holding the smallest child. Nan Smith is a niece of Johan Mackay and now lives in Denny in Stirlingshire.

Added by Kenneth Mackay on 03 July 2010
Hiya David MacKay is my grandfather
Added by Michael MacKay on 09 May 2014
Johannie was my Grandmothers sister and Nan Smith was my dad's sister ( Dad was George Mackay mother Jessa Mackay
Johannie's sister. I remember Willie M when I was small.

Many thanks for your comment - Administrator
Added by Fiona Taylor nee Mackay on 18 November 2014
Johan Mackay is my grandma! She became Johan Haley and emigrated to northern Alberta, Canada. She was the centre of our lives. All of her grandchildren were especially fond of her. We (my mother, Betty and father, Roger) took her back to Embo in 1982. It is so wonderful to hear stories of her. I visited Embo again on my own in 2004. What a rich place Embo was in our imaginations and hearts because of Grandma's connection to it.

Many thanks for your comment - Administrator

Added by Deena Rymhs on 30 November 2014
Johan Mackay (1910-1997) married W.R. Haley a soldier in the Canadian army in 1943. Emigrated to Northern Alberta, Canada in 1948. Had three children - Betty(1945), George (1948) and Joan (1949). She had 7 grand children - Betty (Trisha and Deena), George (Les, Brian and Michelle), Joan (Derek and Tara). She had 2 brothers (Willy and Alistair) and 2 sisters (Christine sometimes called Renee) and Betty.

Many thanks for your comment with the additional information about Johan Mackay - Administrator
Added by George Haley on 05 December 2014
Tom Fraser married and had two daughters. Jean born 1946 and Heather born 1949. After the war he established a life in South East England. He returned to his beloved Embo in 1968 for a holiday.
If anyone knew our father before he joined up with the Navy, we would love to hear.
Added by Heather McKinley (Nee Fraser) on 31 May 2016
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Hidden Gems

Group photograph Embo School c 1946Dornoch HotelChambered cairn at EmboClubhouse and Old 18th Green, Royal Dornoch Golf CourseNew Embo Lifeboat September 1886