SUNDAY, September 21, 1941, was a busy day, with thousands of men registering, at various labour exchanges in Glasgow, for war-time civil defence duties.

“Men in dungarees or wearing oil-stained suits and caps were more numerous than those in the neatly-pressed suits of the church-goer”, this newspaper reported.

“Ministers, elders, and male members of congregations in the age groups from 45 to 59 were responsive to the call to preserve the home front against the ravages of fire, but the fact that so many men were in working clothes indicated the intensity of the war effort in factory and workshop”.

Among the men signing on to be fire watchers (above) was an Indian docker.

Another who put his name on the dotted line was Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Sir Patrick Dollan; he had to interrupt a meeting with Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security, to sign on at the Central Labour Exchange, and the assembled men gave him a cheer when he walked in.

In response to the clerk’s questions about the hours he worked, he said: “I begin work at eight o’clock in the morning and I continue until midnight – and I do this seven days a week. Any spare time I have I give to fire-watching”.

In London that weekend, Cabinet ministers also signed on, in response to their decision that men up to the age of 60 must register as fire guards.

Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, 44, and Minister of Information, Brendan Bracken, 40, registered on the Saturday.

The following day the 46-59 age group took their turn.

Among them were Herbert Morrison, 53; Clement Attlee, Lord Privy Seal, 58; and Sir Andrew Duncan, 57, President of the Board of Trade.

Others who were due to sign were Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin, 57, and A.V. Alexander, 56, First Lord of the Admiralty.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chancellor Sir Kingsley Wood were both exempt as they were over the age limit.

Read more: Herald Diary