Annanhill camp was a World War II Army camp located just to the west of Annanhill House, which lies about halfway between Kilmarnock and Crosshouse, just south of the B7081 Irvine Road.
Other than some concrete bases which would have supported Nissen huts, there are no other remains of the camp, which lay in the area between a present day pitch and putt course just to the north of the site, and the Annanhill golf course to the south, which was constructed after the war.
We have been told in local recollections of the camp that after it was closed, a number of slit trenches could be found in the area, and that there was a latrine which also served as a lockup for anyone that committed an offence, such as returning to camp drunk.
The presence of slit trenches suggests the camp served for basic training and accommodation, but there is little local information regarding its purpose, other than various trucks were to be found parked under the trees at the east end of the site.
Capacity at the camp was apparently limited, as locals tell of of soldiers being billeted with them, in particular during the build up to the Normandy landings. This included a paratrooper at one time, and then the wife of an officer stationed at the camp.
The local children would run errands for the soldiers in the camp. The men would throw their money over the barbed wire fence, and the children (all under ten) would get them cigarettes and newspapers from the shops, in return for a tip or a packet of gum.
One of the Nissen huts served as a mess for the enlisted men, and was used as a cinema to show films in the evening. The children would get a hand over the fence, and were able to sit on the floor and watch the films.
Although we have no specific reference to the requisition of Annandale House, local information is that it was used as a headquarters of some sort, and notes that some old medical books were found in one of the rooms, probably used by medical staff.
Annanhill House lies at the centre of Annanhill Estate on the west side of Kilmarnock.
The house is thought to have been built for James Dunlop in the early 1800s, but there is little information on the history of the house and its owners. In the years following the end of World War II, the grounds have been converted into a town park and golf course, and the house itself has been converted into apartments c. 2000.
Rugby Park football stadium was used as an army supply depot, ammunition dump, during World War II, and had a railway spur off the nearby Kilmarnock/Ayr line, and staffed by the Pioneer Corps. Some of the soldiers were billeted in nearby church halls, with the officers and some others billeted at Annanhill Camp. League matches were suspended for the duration, and the pitch had to be reconstructed after the war, work which was carried out with the aid of Italian PoWs whi rebuitls and extended the north terrace.
Three anti-aircraft batteries were installed around the town. One was near the old maternity home, with another at Springhill House, however the location of the third appears to have been lost.
- Contributions of Peter Burnside
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