Margaret Livingstone-Bussell on her service in the Auxiliary Territorial Service

Margaret Livingstone-Bussell interviewed by Mike Duguid in Boreland of Borgue, October 2012.

Margaret recalls the moment she decided the join the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during WWII before going on to recall service in Stranraer and the availability of scones.

  • Interviewed: 25 October 2012.
  • Ref: DG16/1/1/4.
  • © European Ethnological Research Centre.

MLB: One day we were crouched round our wireless set listening to the Old King [George VI] talking, and we’d had the abdication and we were anxious about him because he had this terrible stammer. And he started to quote, ‘I said to the man that (sic.) stood at the gate of the year’ and he paused – and there was a terrible pause and we held our breath that he would go on and he managed. And after that I walked around the corner and joined-up in the ATS and enlisted myself. I was seventeen and three-quarters.

MD: So what did your parents think about you joining-up?

MLB: Oh, they were thrilled to bits. I was a soldier’s daughter, that was where I aught to be – serving my country.

Margaret recalls service at Stranraer and the attractions of Scotland.

MLB: We came up to Stranraer once or twice. The Americans came in [to WWII] in 1941 and they brought all their equipment, including every lorry. So we were sent – probably about 60 of us, there weren’t more at the time, driving – and we would fetch the lorries coming in on the ships from the various ports. And some came in at Stranraer, but they all arrived on west-coast ports. So Liverpool, Birkenhead, down to the docks, but Stranraer brought-in quite a lot of Studebakers and Jeeps. And we picked them up and drove them back to our headquarters which was an enormous vehicle reserve depot in Gloucestershire. And they were left-hand drive of course which was again another learning-curve for us. But, yes we loved coming to Scotland because there were scones! [Laughter]. And we didn’t see scones ever, anywhere. England was in, under huge shortages at the time. And there were various places where we could park on – a string of us, perhaps 20 or 30 lorries – and road-side coffee and like NAAFI [Navy, Army, Air Force Institutes] places. And we used to get scones in Scotland and occasionally, butter, not the endless margarine. So yes, Scotland was great to come to.

MD: And can you remember the roads in Dumfries and Galloway? Did they strike you as different or …

MLB: I can indeed [MD: you can]. Yes, the A75 was of course not the A75 it was a, more like a lane; a wiggly, windy lane. We went through Gatehouse, we went through Twynholm, we went through all the little villages along the way. And when the A75 actually came, it was an astonishment to us, we missed-out all those places.