A memoir: The war invades Scotland


The day the war broke out I was at the Girl Guides Hall.  I was a Brownie: 10 years old.  When I heard the news I ran home to tell my mother and find out what it would be like to be at war.
We lived in Falkirk Scotland. Blackout rules were enforced by the wardens whose duties were to make sure there was not a peep of light showing through the windows and doors.  A knock on the door would come if they discovered any light, telling us that the German Lyftwaffe were flying overhead.
Food was rationed.  I remember standing in long lines for the 2 oz. of butter which was marked off our ration books.  Clothes were also rationed.  We carried gas masks.
Winston Churchill was our Prime Minister.  He gave wonderful speeches to boost our moral and confidence that we would never be defeated.  There was singing an dancing to the big bands: Guy Lombardo, The Andrew Sisters kept us laughing and coping as the war dragged on.
There was an Anderson Shelter in all the back yards.  Made of steel, shaded like a half moon inside.  There were stone seats to sit on.
During the blitz we would sit in the shelter listening to all the bombs go off, waiting for the all clear siren.  The siren would sound when the air raid begun and when it was over we went back to bed thanking God we made it thru.
School went on as usual.  We were shown how to use the gas masks and hide under the desks if the school was hit.  The young children in England were evacuated for the duration of the war.  London and the big cities were bombed to rubble on the streets.
The radio was used for propaganda.  One of them would say this is Fyfe calling and spill his propaganda.  We used to laugh at him and imitate him.
Women played a big part in the war.  They worked in factories making munitions while their husbands and sons were at war.  Vera Lynn the British singer was a great comfort.  Her songs gave us strength.  She sang “We’ll Meet Again Some Sunny Day”.
One night the siren went off.  We grabbed our coats and ran to the Anderson Shelter.  My mother, and my sister Nancy and I say in there listening to the planes up in the sky and the search lights scanning the blackness for the enemy.  We could hear the bombs exploding with a whistle sound.  Our ears were tuned to knowing how close the bombs were.  Suddenly, the whistle of a bomb was deafening.
My mother bowed her head and said, “Let us pray.”  A great explosion erupted.  We escaped.
The next day, there was a gigantic crator at the bottom of the street.  It fell in a field.  We were all spared.


words by Isobel Maher


Originally published in analogue magazine’s Dec 2013 issue