Young Dod Allan – A WWII hero forged at the Cobairdy Smiddy.
Such was the demand for Smiddy services in the heyday at Kinnoir that even in this relatively small community there were two Smiddies working full time. (Editor’s note: Smiddy is the Doric word for the Smithy or place where horses were shod, metal was bent and magical repairs happened daily!!)
Willie McWilliam (featured on this site here) ran one for the West of Kinnoir and the Allan family ran the other Smiddy near Cobairdy for the eastern half of the community.
Traditionally, the Smiddy business was family run and the Cobairdy Smiddy was no different with Auld Dod Allan running the business with the help of his son- Young Dod!!!
As the horse gave way to the tractor and more mechanical equipment was being used on the farms the role of the Smiddy changed from being primarily a “shoe repair shop” for horses to a multi-dimensional repair shop for all sorts of equipment. If a spare part for a tractor or a binder wasn’t available no need to worry, Young Dod would make you one.
Young Dod had learned many of his skills from his father but he also spent time working at the Smiddy at Rothiemay where the Webster family (auld Brookie and Young Brookie) presided over one of the busiest smiddies in the region. (The Smiddy at Rothiemay later became one of the main training grounds for welding skills in the North East and many local farmers learned how to weld and repair equipment under the watchful eye of Donald Webster (Young Brookie))
The Second World War interrupted many things in the country life and Young Dod Allan volunteered for service in the Army. He could have avoided the call up if he wanted because the Smiddy business was a reserved occupation but he heard the call of “King and Country” and joined up to serve.
Young Dod’s skills were soon recognised by the Army and he was posted to North Africa where he took part in Montgomery’s North Africa campaign against Rommel’s German troops. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_African_Campaign )
Young Dod, like many of his fellow veterans of this campaign, did not talk much about his experiences but we do know that he was part of an elite group of Raiding Forces who were often operating on their own for long periods and frequently behind enemy lines. Out in the harsh North African desert, Dod’s skills at fixing equipment when it looked beyond repair were invaluable and no doubt saved his life and the life of his comrades on many occasions.
Returning to the Smiddy after the war, Dod gradually took over the business from his father and raised his own family in the Community of Kinnoir (Dave, Jim and Joyce). No job was too difficult and no job was turned away as Dod was helpful by nature and could always find a solution to a problem even if everything looked beyond repair!!
Even after he retired he was always on hand to assist and became “the man to turn to” if you needed your mower sharpened or repaired. Jim Morrison remembers turning up at Dod’s door with his mower in need of sharpening and being greeted with a laugh and a question.. “What have you been cutting with this? Grass or concrete?” But, of course, he wasn’t turned away and put his mower in the line of other mowers waiting for repair in the lobby of Dod’s house.
Dod Allan, true to his roots as a skilled man, an unassuming war hero and another son of Kinnoir who helped make the community what it was.