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The Change War Made

by BBC Scotland

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Archive List > Family Life

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
Dorothy Ann McGregor nee Wilkes
Location of story: 
The Burn House, Edzell, Angus and Glasgow
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
28 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Nadine from the People’s War team on behalf of Dorothy McGregor and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I came originally to The Burn when I was 6 weeks old in 1924 and stayed there until I was eighteen.

It was a wonderful place to grow up — a true country life — my father was the butler and we stayed in the house beside the clock tower. I went to Edzell School, The Church on the Muir and eventually Brechin High School.

There were milking cows in the Byre — they supplied milk to the estate — they had a special tunnel they went under to go the field (it’s still there the tunnel) this was so they made no mess around the houses. Donald the pony was another pal — he had various duties to perform, pulling his cart (remember not many cars then). He also pulled a large mower to cut the lawns and had special boots made so that his hooves did not damage the grass.

So time went on and when I was 15 years old war broke out. Things changed all of a sudden, Mr & Mrs Russell gave the beautiful house over to the Government to be used for what ever benefit it could fill. It became a Convalescent Home — that was where the troops who needed time to recover came from Stracathro Hospital. They wore royal blue suits, white shirts and red ties. I often wondered why they made them so conspicuous because they couldn’t run far with plasters on their legs, arms and sometimes spines.

So we had to keep these lads happy and entertained — my mother and friends helped with Concert Parties, Whilst Drives and lots of chat to keep them happy.

Also in our homes we knitted gloves, balaclavas and all sorts of things to put in the Comfort Parcels for the troops.

It was all make do and mend — we had ration books for food and coupons to buy clothes. A great thing was to get an old parachute and you cut it up and make lots of things from it — the parachutes were made of silk.

When I was 18 I was working in a bank and came under Compulsory Call Up Group and had to go away to work in an Aircraft Factory in Glasgow. No chance to be a A.T.S, WREN or WAF! I was not a very happy bunny for sometime — however, you met new friends and felt you were doing your bit (but imagine going to a large factory after living around this beautiful place). Everyone had to do their bit and many gave their lives.

Then VE Day came and eventually people got discharged. I never came back to live at The Burn. James Russell the son and heir was killed in Italy and Mr & Mrs Russell gave the house over yet again and they went to live in Perthshire. Now of course it is run buy the Good Enough Trust and gives pleasure and rest to so many people.

But I return as often as I can, it is very dear to my heart — The Burn.

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