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15 October 2014
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The Lumberjills of Scotlandicon for Recommended story

by BBC Scotland

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
Rosalind Elder, T/85
Location of story: 
Angus, Morayshire, Inverness-shire, Argyllshire
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
03 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Claire White of BBC Scotland on behalf of Rosalind Elder and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

The Womens’ Timber Corps

1942 —1946

In the winter of 1942, I joined the Timber Corps, a branch of the Womens’ Land Army. We trained in Shandford Lodge, Brechin Angus for four weeks; this rudimentary training consisted of felling, crosscutting, loading wagons and in my case working with horses. After training, I was posted to Advie, Morayshire. Our accommodations there were primitive, wooden huts, wood burning stoves, Tilley lamps and army cots with gray blankets. A dining hut and an ablution shed with outdoor toilets. We worked outdoors in all types of weather; rain, sleet and snow. My quota was sixty trees a day, I ran alongside the horse jumping over stumps and brush. In the summertime it was quite pleasant and we did have beautiful tans.

The pay was very low the cost of food was deducted from our pay; this left us with pocket money and little else. However, we felt that we were helping to win the war and with our usual youthful spirits laughed, dance and made the best of things.

Our camps were surrounded by various troops, Canadians, H.L.I., R.E.M.E, not to mention the Norwegian and Dutch troops training in the Grampians. We had many men to choose from and never lacked company for dancing.

Our uniform was most attractive, riding breeches, green p/over, beige shirt, green tie, riding coat and to top it all off a jaunty green beret with a badge depicting a tree. We wore axes of brass on our epaulets and red cloth badges in the shape of diamonds denoting our service time. I wore a leader girl badge and earned 10/- extra.

When Advie forest was finally cut down, we were transferred to Grantown on Spey and again to Carrbridge, Invernesshire. I had progressed to measuring timber by this time, which proved to be less arduous than working with horses. We were well-seasoned lumberjills by this time, and could hold our own with any man in the woods. I enjoyed my years as a lumberjill especially the camaraderie we shared by day and night with friends that I shall never forget. Unfortunately, a number of the girls were injured, some killed on the job, others discharged having contracted TB.

The Italian and German prisoners worked side by side with us, I enjoyed listening to the Italians singing on their breaks, O’ sole’ Mio and many other favourites, all they ever wanted was to “go home”. My next posting was to Inverchoalin Lodge, By Dunoon, Argyllshire, a remote shooting lodge by Loch Striven. It was the best posting I’d had, running water and bathrooms, a delight after the years spent in camps. The war had ended in 1945 but we were not released. Instead, the lumberjills continued on I left in 1946 to marry an overseas service man.

I have fond memories of my Timber Corps days and when I reminisce, I think of sunshine, laughter, the scent of fresh cut wood and the voices of the lumberjills calling TIM-BER !

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