1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Jean Buchanan Allan

Contributed by: Ian Forbes Brown, on 2008-11-13

Jean Buchanan Allan
First Name Jean Buchanan
Surname Allan
Year of Birth 1897
Year of Death 1982
Regiment Voluntary Aid Detachment
Place of Wartime Residence Shawlands, Glasgow

Jean Buchanan's Story

In June 1914 my mother, Jean Allan, left school. One of her father's German friends had been asking if one of his daughters could come over to Berlin and stay for a year and help their seven year old son with his English.

As they were about to leave grandfather received a telegram from his relative Dorothy Countess Moltke von Kreisau not to come as there would shortly be war between Britain and Germany.

Instead of going to Germany my mother joined the VAD. Initially my mother's duty was to go to a Glasgow City railway station to change the bandages of the wounded while they were in transit to emergency wartime hospitals.

In the early spring of 1915 Robert Allan befriended two young army Officers who were on their way to join the HLI. While their battalion was being formed and trained the officers paid many visits to the Allans' house and my mother developed an attachment to one. When the time came for the battalion to go to France the young Lieutenant proposed to mother. She accepted and at seventeen became engaged. They corresponded until one day in July 1916 mother received a letter that the platoon would shortly be going over the top. Her reply never reached her fiance. He was killed in the Battle of the Somme.

While the younger VADs like mother tended to work near their home, those over twenty-one were sent to emergency hospitals in the UK or to the front in France. As mother would be twenty-one in 1918 she attended classes run by the Red Cross in conjunction with Queen Margaret College and obtained her War Office First Aid Certificate in December 1917 followed by the Nursing Certificate in June 1918. In July 1918 she was posted to the Emergency Hospital in Moffat Hydro Hotel. This was an officers rehabilitation unit. Mother spent her twenty-first birthday there.

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