The launch of the Trail

In 1943, a small Prisoner-of-War camp was built at the top of Drumbeg Loan. There were two prisoners’ huts, each able to hold 28 people. In addition, there was a wash block, cook house and canteen, and accommodation for guards. Many of the prisoners, initially Italian and later German, worked during the day on local farms. Plans of the camp can be found in a Stirling Archives blog here.

After the war it became a European Displaced Persons camp, and a number of these refugees settled in the area, whilst others emigrated to Canada, Australia and the USA. The camp closed in 1950. The site is now used for a private house (the house completed in 2021 replaced an earlier bungalow).

In 2014, Jim Fallas wrote about his memories of the camp in the Killearn Courier. This is what he said:

‘As a young lad, it was entertaining to see the Italian prisoners working on farms with the yellow patch on their uniforms. They had a choir which was very good, and they entertained at one or two functions within the village. Fr Dorati of St Kessog’s Catholic Church in Blanefield was their chaplain. (He was of Italian descent.) In 1945 they disappeared as German prisoners came in their place. This continued until 1947. These German PoWs were given a choice: did they want to stay here or go back home? Some who stayed included Hans Billman, Eddie Beck, Karl Fisher, and A. Marionfelt.

In 1947, along came the European Displaced Persons: Yugoslavs, Hungarians, Austrians, Czechs, Slovenians and Germans. A character I particularly remember was Yusof, a Yugoslavian who worked on Lettre Farm. He also ran a football syndicate on Penny Points. He chose the numbers and any member of the public could take part, staking anything from 1 penny to 20 pence. He did win money, although how much was never recorded.

During the ‘Italian period’, it was rumoured that on dark evenings when there was no moon, ladies visited the camp, quoted by one old worthy to another.’

An article in the Killearn Courier gives more information on prisoner-of-war camp (opens pdf, 2MB).