Mary Munro

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

up in whirl­wind ro­mances dur­ing the war.

She said: “Ev­ery­one seemed to be living in the mo­ment and a de­ci­sion was made very quickly. I can re­mem­ber one of our girls go­ing to meet her hus­band com­ing back from In­dia af­ter be­ing away for two years. She was in a panic be­cause she just couldn’t re­mem­ber what he looked like and she had to meet him at Eus­ton Sta­tion.”

In Au­gust 1943, the band em­barked on their first tour to North­ern Ire­land, per­form­ing con­certs from Belfast to Lis­burn to troops in the evening and in public pa­rades through­out the day.

Some­times they treated neigh­bour­hoods to im­promptu per­for­mances in their free evenings and to work­ers in mu­ni­tions fac­to­ries.

The women were given a wel­come wher­ever they went. They toured the coun­try, usu­ally in three-week blocks, once per­form­ing in a pa­rade at Wind­sor Cas­tle with a salute from King Ge­orge VI. They played at dis­plays in Birm­ing­ham, Manch­ester, Leeds and Liver­pool, where they stayed with lo­cal fam­i­lies or were bil­leted in a large hall.

Mem­bers of the Women’s Vol­un­tary Ser­vice would do their cooking and laun­dry.

The band trav­elled to Aberdeen, Glas­gow, El­gin, Perth and In­ver­ness.

Dorothy has kept the most in­cred­i­ble scrap­book of her time in the ATS and some of the pho­tos were lov­ingly re­stored for the ex­hi­bi­tion by Ruther­glen his­to­rian Carol Fore­man.

The ex­hi­bi­tion at Ruther­glen Li­brary, pulled to­gether by her­itage li­brar­ian, Zen Boyd, is a re­mark­able in­sight into one as­pect of women’s tire­less con­tri­bu­tion to the war ef­fort.

Wher­ever the women went, they cre­ated a won­der­ful spec­ta­cle. They were greeted with rap­tur­ous cheers when, in Oc­to­ber 1944, they played to a crowd of 90,000 at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium.

In May 1945, the war was over in Europe, but the band car­ried on and in June 1946, per­formed at the Bri­tish Army Ex­hi­bi­tion in Grand Palais, Paris.

One French reader wrote a trib­ute to the women which was pub­lished in a news­pa­per.

Com­par­ing them to “Pied Pipers”, he wrote: “Not a per­son in the crowd is any­thing other than cap­ti­vated by this mu­sic. Its bright­ness, its light­ness, its rhythm, as well as the proud bear­ing of the pipers in their charm­ing Scot­tish dress.”

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