Chapter 13



The town of Thurso lies west of the well-known landmark of Dunnet Head.  As in many other places at that time, the spiritual temperature was low.  One bright spot was the Salvation Army which had been established around the turn of the century.  Thurso Salvation Army had produced a young man by the name of Willie Leed, whom God used mightily in the salvation of souls particularly in Portsoy, Banffshire in 1923.  Willie Leed was converted in 1915.  He was a signalman during the war, sailing mainly in armed trawlers.  He left Thurso to become a Salvation Army Officer in 1919 and subsequently rose through the ranks to become a Commisioner.


Salvation Army Hall, Thurso.

  (Picture: G. NIcolson, Peterhead.)

There were no herring drifters from Thurso at Yarmouth in 1921.  A few fishermen sailed on Wick boats.  In one way it did not reap the benefit of having boats return with crews of born again men.  The winter herring fishing based at Thurso and Scrabster from December to January drew boats from Wick and the Moray Firth ports.  Many of the men who came at that time had been converted at Yarmouth.  They brought a breath of spiritual fire into a corner which had not as yet been touched by the blessing that was flowing amongst the fishing communities.  When they were not at sea, they made their way to the Salvation Army Hall at Thurso.  Ensign Hartington was the officer in charge and proved to be a man "whose heart the Lord had touched".  Immediately he organised these fishermen and used them at every opportunity.  Special prayer meetings called "Knee Drill" took place and open-air services were held.  God began to move through these men for the revival of Christians as well as the salvation of sinners.


One of the men converted in December 1921 was John Sinclair, who became Sergeant-Major of the Thurso Corps.  Mr.  Sinclair took an active part in local government affairs, rising to the highest office in that realm.  It was in these circumstances that he left his mark as a man who had high Christian principles in dealing both with the poor and with royalty.  "The meetings were packed and the crowds were so large that we were like herring in a barrel," he said.  "I went along to Army meetings on Sundays, but had no real interest.  One weeknight I went along for Willie Leed' s brother, then I found myself being drawn to the Army Hall.  My friend refused to enter, but I went in and got saved.  Quite a few were at the Penitent Form that night.  My friend Leed came along a few nights after that and he got saved as well.  At the testimony meetings new converts would be anxious to tell in their own way how they were saved and what progress they were making." Outside the Town Hall at least 130 men and women stood in a ring.  Marches of witness attracted many as the fishermen, dressed in their jerseys, sang, "I'm not ashamed to own my Lord." With great satisfaction he spoke of the words facing the penitent sinner as he knelt at the "Mercy Seat" in the Thurso Hall, "Jesus can save you now."  They were painted by his friend Willie Leed, the young Salvationist whom God was going to use throughout Britain in the rescue of perishing souls.


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