War legacy

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

Hav­ing read with in­ter­est Ge­orge Mair’s ar­ti­cle “Re­mem­ber­ing nurse’s unique place in his­tory” on 3 November I should like to put on record that Sis­ter Vi­o­let TM Fraser, who died at Pre­de­jane, Ser­bia, on 5 March 1919, is com­mem­o­rated on Dun­bar War me­mo­rial and is re­mem­bered by var­i­ous rel­a­tives who live lo­cally. Her story is told in a play, Home­com­ing, which was due to be per­formed by Dun­bar Bat­tery The­atre Com­pany in Dun­bar Parish Church last night.

She is also re­mem­bered in Ser­bia, where her me­mo­rial has been re­cently restored. Vi­o­let was born in Partick in 1883 but her fa­ther, Thomas Fraser, was born at Pinker­ton in 1847. The Fraser fam­ily farmed at Easter Meikle Pinker­ton for over one hun­dred years and also had a shop in Dun­bar High Street.


Pil­grims Way Bev­eridge Row, Bel­haven

An­other woman men­tioned on a First World War me­mo­rial (Let­ters, 8 November) is Eliz­a­beth John­ston, “Johnny” to her friends, who is com­mem­o­rated on the war me­mo­rial in An­struther, Fife. In 1917 she joined the Women’s Army Aux­il­iary Corps (WAAC), later re­named Queen Mary’s Army Aux­il­iary Corps (QMWAAC) and was sent to France.

Dur­ing the rest of her short life she “kept a di­ary, wrote hun­dreds of let­ters to fam­ily and friends and sub­mit­ted po­ems and ar­ti­cles to the lo­cal An­struther pa­per” (Kevin Du­nion, The Democ­racy of War. An­struther and Cel­lardyke

in the First World War, p.112). Much of her own writ­ing is re­pro­duced in Agnes An­der­son’s lit­tle book John­nie of Queen Mary’s Army Aux­il­iary Corps (1920). On Christ­mas Day 1918 Eliz­a­beth John­ston’s body was found, hav­ing ap­par­ently fallen from the tower of the dis­used St Ouen church in Rouen.

She was given a full mil­i­tary fu­neral in St Sever ceme­tery, with the fir­ing party pro­vided by a de­tach­ment of South African High­landers in Atholl tar­tan. A young Cana­dian sol­dier re­moved the Union Jack from her cof­fin and re­placed it with a Saltire. Su­san Mor­ri­son re­vis­ited Eliz­a­beth John­ston’s story ear­lier this week on BBC

Ra­dio Scot­land’s se­ries Time Trav­els.


Brae­head Grove, Ed­in­burgh

One pos­i­tive as­pect to emerge from the end of the First World War was the for­ma­tion in 1918 of the Scot­tish Gro­cers’ and Pro­vi­sions Mer­chant’s Fed­er­a­tion. The Fed­er­a­tion was formed to en­sure ad­e­quate sup­plies of food to the peo­ple of Scot­land in the dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances which ex­isted in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the ar­mistice.

As SGF, the Fed­er­a­tion has con­tin­ued to sup­port both lo­cal shops and Scot­land’s com­mu­ni­ties for a cen­tury. There are now 5,000 con­ve­nience stores in Scot­land and they pro­vide 40,000 jobs. Th­ese stores con­trib­ute some £530 mil­lion to Scot­land’s econ­omy in Gross Value Added every year.

The 100th an­niver­sary of the Great War of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to fully re­call the sac­ri­fices made and to value the at­tempts that were made to build a bet­ter so­ci­ety.


Head of Pol­icy and Pub­lic Af­fairs Scot­tish Gro­cers Fed­er­a­tion Queens­ferry Road, Ed­in­burgh

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