Role of the Irish in WWII – Cleeve Acheson of Sligo recalls when he joined the Irish Guards.

At the age of eighty four Cleeve J. Acheson, (who is now 95 and residing in Farnborough, in north east Hampshire, England) sat down to recall his life “achievements and failures”.

In doing so he went back to his boyhood growing up on a farm in rural Co. Sligo in the 1920s and 30s. Later to became one of the many Sligo men who fought in the Second World War seeing service with the Irish Guards and later as a tank commander in North Africa and Italy.

Coming from a farm in Rock View, Ballinarry, Boyle, Co. Sligo, Cleeve Acheson was one of eleven children, 8 brothers and 3 sisters, born to Alexander (Sandy) Acheson, and Emily Chambers. “Mother was born in Beltra near Sligo Town. There were about eight in her family and we saw them from time to time.”

“My parents purchased another farm in Corrigreen in 1929. The price paid was £250 and there was something in the region of about 90 acres.

This gave us about 270 acres of land. Much of this was not of very good quality, being mainly mountainous and stretching up to Highwood.

One of my jobs, after school, was to drive the cattle from the mountain to Lough Augh, a nearby lake about one mile from home.” “I first went to Cloonagh School about two miles from home at the age of five and was taught by a Miss Flynn. Since the pupils attending were about 98% Roman Catholic I had to go outside of the building come rain or snow while they had religious instruction at mid-day. There were no out buildings, except dry toilets.”

“Mother played the harmonium in Killmactranny Church. “During the winter months my brother Cyril travelled the three miles to our Church to light the coal fire, an hour before the service. The heat came up through the centre grating in the centre isle.

“Living on the farm on the shores of Lough Arrow, was a place I never wanted to leave. I loved fishing and after school on some evenings I would dig up some worms in the back garden, put them in a tin can or jam jar and set off from the boathouse below the road in a place called Lakefield.

“Since the water was very clear I could see the fish swimming under the boat.” “I attended the R.C. School, as mentioned, until I was 11, then I cycled eight miles to the Clues Memorial School, all pupils being Protestant. I cycled with my sister Joyce to Boyle. Since the Irish language was not taught as much here as in my previous school I was top of the class when it came to an Irish lesson.”

“My brother Alick, worked in Sloans High Street, Boyle, who sold groceries, animal food, building and hardware material. My school friends and I used to play marbles on the pavement outside his shop.” “During a visit by an English fisherman to Rock View, my brother Basil was told that there was no future for him on the farm and was advised to enlist in the Palestine Police. This was about 1932.

This he did and remained in the force for about 12 years. The force was disbanded in 1946. He achieved the rank of Sergeant and could speak Arabic fluently.”

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