Whenever we drive past Stobs, it is to go and see an amazingly well-preserved bronze age fort at Newton Hill Wood or climb a hill that has particularly lovely views over the Slitrig valley, so we do not pay much attention to the dusty remains of the camp site on the right that is now only used by the occasional boy racer.
Something almost unimaginable nowadays in this quiet corner of the Scottish Borders is that for over fifty years there used to be an enormous army camp about a mile south of Colislinn at Stobs that housed up to ten thousand men at a time. They trained here in the bleak hills in preparation for most of the armed conflicts that Britain got involved in during the first half of the 20th century.
For anyone with an interest in military history please have a look at this fascinating website on Stobs Army Camp: http://stobs-camp.bizhat.com/index.htm. These guys are much better at telling its story than I am; there are lots of photos, letters and other documents of great interest, not least a section on German prisoners of war who were interred here during WW1 and who ended up baking the daily bread for the camp as recorded by a Scottish soldier:
“We have five thousand German prisoners here and they have a better time of it than us. They bake all our bread, carving an Iron Cross on it. Some of our boys don’t like it but to my taste it seems all right. We have about 15 thousand of our boys here”
It is the painstaking work of the Scottish Military Research Group who have done a wonderful job in recording the lives of those who passed through it.
Colislinn and Stobs
I have been told that officers were billeted at Colislinn during WW2. From the Stobs website it is clear that the conditions in the camp were pretty basic, with soldiers sleeping in tents and officers in wooden, later Nissen huts, so Colislinn must have been an appealing alternative. The dining and drawing room floors in Colislinn are riddled with ancient telephone and electricity cables with sockets screwed into the floor at regular intervals. Presumably they were made into offices.
Another mark the officers left on the house are the bullet holes in the weathervane on top of one of the turrets and who knows, it could have been the German POWs who used the old bread oven still visible in a field immediately west of Colislinn.
Regiments known to have trained at Stobs (more details here):
Black Watch, Lanarkshire Yeomanry, Glasgow Yeomanry, H.L.I , Kings Own Scottish Borderers, Royal Scots Fusiliers, Scottish Rifles