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Scottish War Bride

By Jane Todd


When the war started in September 3, 1939, I little knew the path I would take and how the conflict would change my life.

I was still at school, required to attend until age fourteen. Air Raid drills were implemented Author Jane Toddimmediately. Being one of the older students I had to look after two younger children by getting them to a safe place during a raid. We were assigned to a home near the school. Air Raid sirens were the most frightening thing in my early years, and I was always glad to hear the All Clear. The black out was awful, with no lights anywhere.

I left school at fourteen, and found a job at a factory. I was like an office boy, running errands and going where I was needed.

My father joined the Army at the start of the war and went to France, then Belgium. When the enemy pushed into Holland, Belgium and France, he ended up at Dunkirk. It was a terrible time, as we did not know for days if my dad was alive. We did not have phones at that time, and when you saw the telegram boy coming down the street, you held your breath. Dad did make it back. The whole of Britain was put on alert for invasion. We were told church bells would ring to signal if the enemy were landing. Luckily that never happened.


An influx of soldiers from all the Allied countries started. Our town of Hamilton was so alive. We had French, Norwegian commandos, and Canadians. There was a depot of trailers set up for navy survivors of the war at sea; they were given clothes, food, and so on, then returned to units.

We did a lot of entertaining, and had back door concerts to raise money for boxes for the soldiers. All our iron railing disappeared for the war effort, pots and pans also went. Everyone had to plant potatoes and vegetables, and rationing began. We would have starved to death had it not been for the brave men in the conveys. We had dried eggs and dried milk. Oranges were for the babies as fruit was very scarce. When I came to Canada after the war I was shocked when my husband bought a whole box of apples.
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Reprinted with the permission of Jane Todd and The Fortyniner (No. 103, December, 2000): 25-32. 
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