In 1918 Jessie Flockhart who was 19 years old at the time decided to do her bit for King and Country by joining the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC). Jessie who stayed in Lingerwood Road, not far from me, was a domestic servant, and one fine July day presented herself at the recruiter in Edinburgh.
Jessie earned the princely sum of £18 a year from her Mr Stoddart who stayed on a farm at Silverburn, she was keen to do work overseas so perhaps the lure was adventure rather than money.
She was required to name a number of referees, one of whom must be a woman, to prove her suitabilty as a member of HM Forces, she actually had three Mrs Stoddart the farmers wife, Miss B King from Newtongrange Farm and the Reverend Lindsay of Newbattle Parish Church of Scotland, but in the end Reverend McPhereson the United Free Church minister gave her a reference, his reference was fairly bland, Miss King was her ex teacher and it appears declined to commit herself one or another as to whether Jessie was steady and reliable, industrious and thoroughly trustworthy.
Mrs Stoddart her current employer had no doubts about Jessie qualities, sadly it was not a favourable impression, she stated Jessie was
“Not very reliable, not industious or trustworthy”, she also stated “She is too foolish and too easily lead away”
The saving grace for her seems to have been a last minute intervention by Rev William Lindsay, who said he had know her for more than three years and found steady, reliable, industious and trustworthy. This seems to have done the trick and Jessies was accepted into the service on the 2nd of August,1918.
Ironically any dreams of travelling to exotic locations were dashed, initially she was sent to the workers hostel in Edinburgh, before transferring to the Depot of the 4th Reserve Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, who were based at Glencorse, not far the farm at Silverburn she had just left.
Poor Jessie spent the rest of her war between the Depot at Glencorse and back at the Hostel in Edinburgh, it appears Mrs Stoddart may have been right about Jessie, on the 6th May 1919 Jessie was fined 2/6d by Captain A M Robertson of the Gordon Highlanders for “smoking and talking to the Guard at the Barrack gate”.
She was returned to the hostel in Edinburgh and then given leave for a few days, on her return she stayed in Edinburgh before being released into civilian employment on compassionate grounds, I don’t know what ther circumstances were.
At any rate on the 8th of August, almost a year to the day, she was discharged and put on the bus to Newtongrange bringing her WAAC career to a finish.