Ton's War
recorded by John Dye

Ton MacDonald, in later years Moidart's postman and also father to Fergie MacDonald the musician, provided these random notes to John Dye about life as a Postie.

Notes from the Post Office
1 bag special for Lord Howard at Dorlin.

1947 storm: snowdrifts blocked road to Kinlochmoidart, drift in hollow past kennels was 10 ft deep, Ton + 4 men, 11 am, to 9 pm. to get mails to Kinlochmoidart, Ton also mentioned deep snow on the night of the Castle Cary railway crash, this was in on this occasion, Ton said he had to open the windscreen because the wipers couldn't cope, he got back to Acharacle with the car full of snow and no tyre on one wheel.

High tide at Dorlin: Ton had to walk along wall to empty the box.

Old Postman - Alan Ruadh MacLean, later owned London House, which became Strontian Hotel, Did Ardgour-Strontian mail run with a pony and trap.

Ton once got 13 parcels in one day - (WW1 ?).

All 4 Acharacle postmen were killed in the First World War. One of the temporaries, Archie MacNaughton, was killed by being struck by lightning while on his bike, After the war there was great competition for the vacant positions and Ton always said he owed his job to the support he got from the people of Kentra and Ardtoe, Ton started out with a bike, later being upgraded to a motorcycle (with 'panniards') and finally to a van, He recounted an episode where he actually drove back from Kinlochmoidart with the inspector in the front and a half a hind in the back under a sack!

The biggest post Ton ever saw at Acharacle was one Christmas when there were 60 bags at the Post office, weighing 30 cwt. These included mail for Kilchoan.

Postmen at Acharacle pre 1914 : John Mackay (lived in Pacey's house), had the gig and collected mail from Strontian, Sandy MacMaster, Kinlochmoidart, died at a dance in Kinlochmoidart; Hugh Cameron, son of the piermaster at Acharacle, delivered to west Moidart, killed in the war; Archie MacNaughton, delivered to Kentra and Ardtoe; Sandy Cameron, Shielfoot, delivered Salen to Glenborrodale; Sandy MacPherson, Shielfoot, worked at Shielbridge House; Donald MacDonald, Dorlin later Kinacara, delivered to Shona.

At one time the Post Office took the form of a small tin hut 'like a sentry box' at the school.

Mrs Humphries (1976): Salen Post Office received mail at 6 p.m, transferring it to Strontian at 8 p.m. Mail for Kilchoan was brought by steamer. Telegrams were taken from Salen to Kilchoan for £1.

Ton remembered a great flood at Acharacle which was so high that they had to fetch the mail from the field next to the Hall.

Ton recounted a story about delivering the mail to Ardtoe one foggy night when he completely lost his bearings, he eventually was reduced to creeping along with his arms outstretched. His fingers just knocked gently on the tin wall of one of the houses and a voice immediately called out 'Come on in, Post, and give yourself up,'

Fergie MacDonald told me (August 2003) that Mima's grandfather, Hector Currie was also employed by the postal service. He rowed across the sound of Mull three times a week to fetch mail and delivered the mail to Kinlochaline, Claggan, and Kingairloch on the alternate days, there was another postman for the Lochaline mail.

JD