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A Scottish Family at War

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posted on 2024-06-05, 17:42 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

This is a story about the contributor's aunt and uncle. The uncle was called away to Glasgow/Airdrie for basic training in Scotland before being sent to London for special training. He had 48 hours’ leave and got the train from Glasgow to London as a surprise for his wife, as she got on the train to London for some reason and they passed! They didn't see each other at all for those 48 hours. He was posted to the desert for five years and they never saw each other in that time. His only leave was to Jerusalem. He returned from war a totally different man. He had previously been assertive and confident.

He never spoke about the war. There are some photos in sealed envelope in the back of the cupboard.

Jean Glendinning worked on the Queen Mary as a stewardess/children's nurse. She was away for long periods between Britain and America (also visited Ghana, Spain and others). She brought back dolls from each country and the first pineapple they'd ever seen, and also, a nameless meat which turned out to be whale meat. When war broke out, the ship was requisitioned for a troop/hospital ship and the crew invited to stay on if they had a relevant skill. So, she stayed on as a nurse throughout the war (She was also a ladies golf champion and represented Scotland at hockey).

The contributor's father (Allan MacFarlane) joined the Air Force (ground crew at Prestwick, mending Spitfires and had wings). He was told of redeployment and given leave. So, he brought his marriage forward to 14th February 1942. He was then redeployed to Prestwick Airport and given charge of leave rota. His son was born in 1943 and didn't know him. On silver wedding anniversary wife discovered wedding ring and still had 5th May.

During the war, David MacFarlane (brother) had his tonsils taken out by GP on the kitchen table.

The contributor's Mum and sister (Rita) lived through the Clydebank Blitz. They were at the cinema only in a pair of silk stockings and new crocodile shoes, which were kicked off when bombs fell. She couldn't find them and had to walk back to Anniesland Cross in stockings with bombs were falling. She said, "why didn't stockings come off too?".

They lost neighbours and there was lots of sadness and seriousness but focused on the funny memories.


Person the story/items relate to

Adam (Addie) Borland and Henrietta (Rita) Glendinning

Person who shared the story/items

Morag Young Muirhead

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Adam and Henrietta were her uncle and aunt. Her aunt was her mother's sister. Jean was her aunt. Alan MacFarlane was her father. David Mac Falane was her brother. Rita was her aunt.

Type of submission

Shared at Duncansburgh Church Hall, Highlands on 27 September 2023. The event was organised by Lochaber Archive Centre and West Highland Museum.

Record ID

96462 | FOR013