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WW2 - People's War

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Employment opportunites in the War

by The CSV Action Desk at BBC Wiltshire

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Archive List > Working Through War

Contributed by 
The CSV Action Desk at BBC Wiltshire
People in story: 
Anne Dougan Mitchell
Location of story: 
Kirkintilloch, Scotland
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A4321351
Contributed on: 
01 July 2005

This story was told by Anne commonly know as Nancy Mitchell to me her daughter, Hazel McIntyre and posted on this site by me.

I was fourteen the year war broke out and although my parents and those of my elder brothers and sister who had children were worried about what might happen, I found the whole prospect of war quite exciting. I had to leave school at fourteen, like the rest of my family before me. There was little chance of going on to higher education in these days, especially if you were working class. Immediately after I left school, I started as an apprentice upholster with Bows the furniture maker in Glasgow. The people there were much older than me, and the atmosphere was very strict. I had a friend who worked in Woolworths and that seemed much more exciting and so I left and went to work in Woolworths as well. I was put on the engraving counter, engraving the names on the identity bracelets. I think this was because I had nice handwriting. After a while, however, I got dermatitis on my face from the metal filings. I looked terrible and under doctors orders I had to leave. I also worked in the foundry in Kirkintilloch for a wee while.

Eventually, I was told by the people in charge of these things, that I had to either go to work in the munitions factory in Hillington or work on the buses as a bus conductress. I didn't know exactly where Hillington was or quite how to get there, so I opted for the buses. My run was usually the Campsie Glen run and it was a nice place to have your break before you did the turn around back to Glasgow. I didn't really like working on the buses very much, mainly because it was during the black-out and when I was on late shift, I was dropped off from the staff bus in Waterside and had to walk home in the pitch black to Faulhead (about a mile up a steep and isolated lane.)

When my mother's health got bad, I was allowed to give up work to look after her and I was quite relieved at that. Looking back, it was an experience that I would probably never have had if it hadn't been for the war, being a clippie on the buses.

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