Anne Maley (née Watt)
Anne Maley (née Watt) was born in Glasgow in 1921. She joined the WLA in 1941, when she was living at Possilpark in Glasgow. Anne’s nephew, Stephen Laing, recounts how she loved her time spent at Rosehill on Farm Kintyre and often spoke of her time working on a farm. She returned to Glasgow at the end of her time in the WLA.
Included below are a series of photographs from Anne’s wartime service, alongside newspaper articles sharing her memories of her time on the land.
Anne’s account is shared as she typed it, with all line breaks accurate to the original typescript memoir.
It was 1939 I was eighteen when the ‘peace in our time’ talks ended and war was declared, and life was changed for us all.
In the factory where I cut out fancy colourful shirts, all that was put away. We rolled out the khaki! Shirts for soldiers.
The city had to be blacked out, everyone had to hang black curtains, not a chink of light to show. Air raid wardens paraded the streets and back courts after dark.
Put out that light! became a by ward Folks would rush to adjust the curtains, lest they show a light to enemy bombers.
Air raid shelters were built, baffle walls erected in front of closes. Many a citizen in a hurry, in the dark, slammed into these walls with dire results. black eyes and jeely noses! We were all issued with gas masks, which had to be carried at all times.
One morning I turned up at work without the wee box.
‘Away home and fetch it’, said the boss sternly.
So I went, nae bother, trundling home In the tram car beat cutting out that dreary khaki
The tragic seriousness of war had not yet reached the young.
But it soon did! I saw my wee sisters off to a place of safety in the country’
At the station among other bewildered evacuees. carrying their wee cases, gas masks slung over their shoulder.
I cried with my mum we missed them so.
Food and all other commodities were rationed There was a period of nightly harassment by enemy bombers
Air Defence put up a valiant effort fighting them off.
The siren would go on. A strange eerie sound that even woke mel but I stayed in bed.
When my work mates complained about those sleepless nights in air raid shelters, I admitted that our family never went to the shelters. This fact reached the boss’s ears.
Ann, he said you’ll be blawn oot o’ your bed one o’ they nights.
Well, I thought, I won’t be buried in a smelly old shelter.
Then the sirens sounded off every lunch time, just when we put on the kettle for tea.
We were taken down in the ancient lift to the cellar under the six story building. A dank horrible dungeon!
The War really hit us when Clydebank was bombed.
Dalmuir was also hit. Our wee friend Jean lived there. I remember the two terrible nights Thursday and Friday. We in the north of the city could hear the crump and thump of bombs landing on targets.
We were out of bed that night and stood at the window watching the glow of flames lighting up the night sky. On Saturday our Jean did not come to work. We were anxious but it was difficult to get information these days. On Monday she appeared. A little less chirpy than usual but safe and well, looking very smart in a new outfit. She gave us a twirl. ‘American Aid Store.’
The family had lost their home and all their possessions but escaped Injury. A friend had arrived In his lorry and taken them out to his home in the outskirts of the city.
The men folk went back after the second night, hoping to salvage something.
All that remained of their home was a pile of smoking rubble. They knew that in the midst of all the devastation fire and death they were lucky to be alive. As the war progressed, young women were called up for the services.
Some went to work In munitions, others joined Wrens or ATS.
I volunteered for the WLA, who were replacements for young men taken away to war.
We did a useful Important job.
We were the forgotten army!
The hard work and open air were a big change for me.
These wee farms on the west coast were not suitable for tractors. However one wet summer the struggle to get the harvest went on for weeks. Day after day we walked round the fields lifting wet corn stooks, blown over by the wind and soaked with rain.
Hoping for a few dry days. When the sun came out the farmer decided to hire the combined harvester to get the rest of the harvest in. After a great start the marvellous monster sank in the low field. I could see Alick our young ploughman was elated. Gleefully he hurried off to the stables and brought out his beloved team of horses! They soon had the tractor out of the bog.
We were back to the old way. We followed after him patiently lifting the stooks and setting them up to dry. We were a family on the farm. We two landgirls and the evacuee played our part. Although it was a good life I was glad when the war ended and we could go home. To dear old Glasgow. To my ain folks.
Click on the links below to read more reminiscences by Ann.
Over sixty years the heart still races
Thud of hooves on sand
The lovesick local lad rushes his paces
The landgirl far from home, far from homesick
Loves new places
Sitting on the brae above the shore
Archie watching with those dark eyes
I want him as a friend
Here come the colts! We stand and stare
Captain, black as coal, long flowing mane
Tail sweeping the sand as he raced past
Now comes Maggie, chestnut
Mane and tail golden in the sunset
Racing to catch up
Neck and neck, they turn at Clark’s fence
A vision of youth and beauty to remember
Round an outcrop of rocks and out of sight
We turn away, ‘They’re growing fast,’ I say
‘Aye, soon be brought to the steading
Manes and tails cropped, put to harness.’
‘Don’t say it!’ I turn away
‘That’s real life,’ he says, ‘Com on, race ye tae the hoose’.
We gallop up the Glen Road. He lets me win.