BRITAIN declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, leading to Tillicoultry becoming a garrison town with the arrival of soldiers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, as well as a Polish regiment.

The first child evacuees arrived on September 1 that year, two days before war was officially declared, and the first rationing began soon afterwards.

Wartime incidents in the Tillicoultry area, however, were few and far between.

One of the main ones was in June 1940 when the primary school was destroyed by fire, and there was a close call when a bomb was dropped near the golf course, but nothing compared to the explosion in Devonside on September 23, 1942, as children played with what turned out to be a dangerous find.

Some boys were playing and hunting for chestnuts at the back of what is now Tillicoultry Primary School, but at the time was simply known as Fir Park.

The site where the ski slope is today had once been a firing range used by the Polish soldiers stationed at the Middleton and Oak Mills in the town, and although it was thought to have been cleared, the children managed to discover an anti-tank bomb and an incendiary grenade.

Thinking nothing of it, these were placed in their pockets and they cycled back to Devonside where they lived.

A few days later the two boys were playing at a disused brickwork there which was then being used as a coup

They were joined by other children, totalling around eight or nine in all. At some point it was decided they would form a circle.

The boys took out their devices and one fell onto the other, causing a massive explosion.

Alexander Goldie was the first on the scene following the incident and as soon as he saw what had happened, he phoned Clackmannanshire County Police who arrived promptly.

Locals rushed to help and while waiting on ambulances, all the injured children were wrapped in whatever came to hand including rugs and blankets.

They were taken to the county hospital in Alloa, but unfortunately, some of them died soon after due to the severity of their injuries.

These included Joyce Anderson from Coalsnaughton, and Robert Stenhouse, John Hunter and Frank Williams of Devonside.

One survivor was 12-year-old James Dawson who lost both his legs and another boy, Thomas Snaddon lost his hair.

One boy had a lucky escape as he was late getting out to play due to chores. When the explosion occurred, he was far enough away not to be caught in the blast.