Ardentinny D-Day Memorial plaque unveiled

The memorial plaque
The memorial plaque

On 6th June 2015 Tony Rodaway, nephew of D-Day veteran Billy Rodaway, travelled to the site of HMS Armadillo in Ardentinny to unveil a memorial plaque dedicated to Harry Smallman, Ken Oakley and all Royal Navy Commandos who participated in the planning and execution of the D-Day landings in 1944. The short ceremony and  memorial plaque also paid tribute to Seaman William (Billy) Rodaway and Bob Bull and the crew of HMS Prins Albert with whom they served. 

The plaque will be incorporated within the commando memorial cairn at Shepherd’s Point shortly.

Information on their outstanding service can be found here:

Royal Navy Commandos

Rodaways website

Ardentinny Memories

Ardentinny-Memories of Dunoon and the Cowal Peninsula 1898-1998 from Glidetrack on Vimeo.

This small clip was lifted from the above named DVD available to buy from this Ebay seller.

Thought this would be of interest to Ardentinny residents.

Things I have picked up on.
Primrose Tearoom is still open and has an extension on the side.
No Ardentinny Centre
Glenfinnart House is still standing
Cottages have white gates
And the weather looks to be no different to nowadays…rain!

Thanks to Alastair for finding this little gem.

1943: HMS Armadillo group Glenfinart House

We are again indebted to Griffin Turton who has provided us with the following photograph taken in 1943 in front of Glenfinart House (HMS Armadillo) which was at the time the RN HQ.

The picture was taken whilst ‘N’ or ‘Nan’ RN Beach Commando were at HMS Armadillo in early 1943 and shows from left to right Sub/Lt ‘Jumbo’ Jarvis RNVR; Sub/Lt Alec Varley RNVR, both ABMs (Assistant Beach Masters) in N2 section; Lt Dougall MacArthur RNVR who had been an ABM with G2 in North Africa where he was wounded; Lt Maurice Vernon Redshaw RNVR, BM of N2, an unknown WREN Officer and Sub/Lt Brian Wallace RNVR, ABM N3.

Related link:
The Royal Naval Commandos 1942-45 History Group.

Photo courtesy: M. Baird (Brian Wallace’s stepson).

HMS Armadillo – 1940’s

We are grateful to Griffin Turton who has provided us with a couple of photographs related to HMS Armadillo (Glenfinart Bay). The photographs were most likely taken during the 1940’s and are from
The Beachhead Commandos by a Cecil Hampshire, published by William Kimber & Co Ltd in 1983. The last of the metal long huts shown in the photograph was demolished by Forestry Commission Scotland in 2011.

HMS Armadillo – 1940’s.
Glenfinart House which was used as naval HQ during second world war.

Who do you think you are Glenfinart?

Continuing on from our previous article on Glenfinart House when it was used as a holiday centre between the 1930’s and early 60’s. Elizabeth Brooking, granddaughter of  the late Henry C. White, owner of Friendship Holidays Association, has provided us with  more images and information from her archive. In addition to Glenfinart House, Henry C. White owned a chain of holiday centres throughout the UK as well as offering holidays in France, Switzerland and Italy.

The house finally closed as a holiday centre in 1961, on the death of Henry C.White and the majority of the building was destroyed by fire in 1968. All that remains today is the main turret.

Through the previous posts on Glenfinart House at, Elizabeth (whose parents met at Glenfinart House) has also found a long-lost relative who shares the same great grandfather as her. This has resulted in dozens of unknown relatives being traced. She’s looking forward to meeting at least some of them in the future!

With the help of Elizabeth has also been in contact with others researching the history of the Friendship Holidays Association and the hope is that the FHA material which has been collected will be archived for future generations, to provide a history on the organisation and the people involved.

As a footnote In 1966, Elizabeth Brooking’s mother wrote a story for a competition based on the Ardentinny fire. It can be read here.

Photographs courtesy Elizabeth Brooking. 

Advertisement from 1934.
1930’s: ‘Promotional’ letter on the opening of Glenfinart House.
Glenfinart House probably in the 1950’s.


1932 holiday brochure.
Article on the man behind Friendship Holidays Association, Henry C. White.
1961: Probably the last group of guests at Glenfinart House, as the centre closed that year following the death of H.C.White.
1968: Article from Dunoon newspaper on the Glenfinart House fire.
Cuil Burn as referred to in the comment below.

Misty Moments in Ardentinny

The concert, entitled ‘Misty Moments’, held in Ardentinny church on Saturday 28 September, produced a misty eye or two, such was the quality of the music produced by the 8+1 group of singers under the direction of and accompaniment by John McIntosh. Their repertoire ranged from the jazz standard ‘Misty’ by Erroll Garner through a medley of ‘Gershwin for Girls; ‘Georgia on my Mind’ by Hoagy Carmichael & Stuart Gorrell; Cole Porter’s ‘Every time we say goodbye’ to Bob Dylan’s ‘Make you feel my love; Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’; and an old Irish Folk song ‘The Parting Glass’.

The group’s vocal range and wonderful harmonies particularly excelled in pieces from ‘the deep south’ but such is the flexibility of their talent that they produced equally moving renditions of ‘J’attendrai’,  originally composed in Italian by Dino Olivieri and John Rutter’s ‘The Lord bless you and keep you’.

While a delightful afternoon of song was enjoyed by a most enthusiastic audience, this was not the sole aim. The concert was held in aid of the Princess Royal’s Maternity Baby Fund to which those who attended donated generously. If you were unable to attend but would like to know about and/or donate to this worthwhile cause you can do so by contacting Susan Provan, Neonatal Coordinator, Neonatal Department, 16 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow, G31 2ER. Phone 0141 211 5247. Cheques made payable to ‘PRM baby fund’ may be posted to the above address.

Euphemia McKellar of Glencairn Cottage

Euphemia McKellar at Glencairn Cottage c1896 and the cottage doorway today

We are grateful to Moya Dewar, a descendant of 19th century Ardentinny residents, who has provided us with the following fascinating research on her ancestors who lived at Glencairn Cottage and Glefinart in the late 19th century.

When Euphemia McKellar died in March 1898, the local paper wrote, under the heading of ‘Death of old Glefinart inhabitants,’ that she was ‘much respected in the district.’  The other death was that of her neighbour, William MacFarlane.  So, who was Euphemia McKellar?

She had been born c1824 in Greenock to John McKellar and Eupham Whyte: John McKellar was a ship’s carpenter whose origins are uncertain, but Eupham Whyte had been born at Inverchaolain and had then lived at Rashfield from the age of about 10.  Orphaned by the age of 15, Euphemia McKellar appears to have stayed on in Greenock for a year or two, after which she might have joined her two younger siblings who were being brought up by their maternal grandparents, Donald Whyte and Mary Campbell at Rashfield.

Meanwhile, Joseph Cairns (born in Glasgow) had married Margaret Thomson (or MacGlashan)* and was living in Ardentinny, initially working as a shoemaker and then on the Glenfinart estate as a saw miller. By 1841 they had four young children, but Joseph was widowed sometime after the birth of their fifth child in 1843. A widower with five young children clearly needed help in the home  – did he engage Euphemia McKellar as his housekeeper? He married her in 1846, they went on to have another 12 children and, remarkably, all 17 children survived childhood, although one died aged only 19 of peritonitis, and several others predeceased Euphemia.

Inevitably, most of the children moved away from the area, mostly to Glasgow (although one enterprising son emigrated to New Zealand in the 1860s, went gold prospecting and bought a farm there with the proceeds!).  After putting an appeal in an NZ newspaper a couple of years ago, we are delighted to be back in touch with one of his great granddaughters.  That it was a close-knit family is evidenced by two anecdotes: even the children from Joseph’s first marriage took their own children to visit Euphemia (Joseph had died in 1882), and the eldest of the 17, Margaret, was at the side of the second youngest, Catherine, when the 19-year-old died in Glasgow in 1885.  Also one of Margaret’s daughters sailed to New Zealand in 1909 and married a cousin there.

The photograph of Euphemia (above) was probably taken a year or two before her death, and she was sitting outside Octagon Cottage (so named because of its half-octagon roof), now Glencairn.

Glencairn Cottage

On a visit to Ardentinny in 2006, we brought an enlargement of the photo and were excited to see this confirmed – apart from the fact that it was the only property we could find with such narrow door jambs, all these years later the nicks in those door jambs match up exactly with the ones in the photo!

Two Cairns families were still living in Ardentinny/Stronvochlan in 1901 and Octagon Cottage was at that time the home of Euphemia’s daughter-in-law Joan and her five children – Joan’s husband, Alexander, had died ten months before his mother.

By 1911, however, only John (aka Jake) and his family were left, living at Glenfinart. A tragedy sadly occurred in this family in 1913 when John’s 16 year old son, Joseph, died: it seems he had fallen into the River Finart after suffering an epileptic fit. John, widowed just three years later, remained in the area until after his youngest daughter, Jenny, married in 1935.  The late Alistair Maclean of Ardentinny remembered  that his own sister was bridesmaid at Jenny’s wedding . He recalled Jake as a small quiet man who had been the beadle at the local church.  At the time of his death in 1944, Jake was living in Carluke in south Lanarkshire. 

Several gravestones linked to Euphemia’s family can be seen in the kirkyard at Kilmun, including this quite imposing one for the Cairns family. Another gives details of Euphemia’s parents and siblings, yet another those of her Whyte grandparents.

The gravestones of some of the Cairns family and Euphenia’s grandparents at Kilmun Church

*Margaret Thomson (or McGlashan) was a daughter of  Dugald Thomson (or McGlashan) and  Margaret Bannatyne. If anyone can explain why both Dugald and Margaret appear to have had two surnames, we would be pleased to hear from them.

Cairns family descent and Census data (PDF)

Submitted by Moya Dewar, descendant of Christina, a daughter from Joseph’s first marriage, and Marion Lewis, of family descended from Joseph and Euphemia’s son Daniel.