Veteran Stories:
Edith Blanche Middleton

Army

  • Edith Middleton and other members of the Women's Timber Corps working at a lumber camp in Scotland.

    Edith Middleton
  • May, Peggy and and other members of the Women's Timber Corps working at a lumber camp in Scotland.

    Edith Middleton
  • Edith Middleton and two other members of the Women's Timber Corps working at a lumber camp in Scotland.

    Edith Middleton
  • Edith Middleton and other women of the Women's Timber Corps.

    Edith Middleton
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"Oh, it was, I would say it was a good healthy life. Thousands of girls up in the north of Scotland."

Transcript

Edith Blanch Middleton. Oh, I had a very, I’d say, an interesting life. I went to school and I was, I studied dancing lessons when I was five. My grandmother had a shop and she made all my dancing costumes, so I was lucky there. And then I was 14, I entertained the troops. My science teacher at school needed a dancer, so it was 100 shows for the troops in Edinburgh. That was still, the bombs were still dropping and the war was still on.

But anyway, we all enjoyed it. When I was 18, we all had to do something about our calling up papers. And I thought, well, I think I’ll join the wide open spaces, so I got the lumber, timber club would be ideal. It was either that or the WRENS or the navy or ATS.

So anyway, got on the train and then we went up to the highlands of Scotland. Carrbridge is close to Aviemore and Inverness. So the next day we got started. We were felling trees and all kinds of, every week they changed our jobs. You were either on the saw bench, stacking or throwing the trees or driving the tractor or up at the station unloading the wagons. And the Canadians would be up there says, stand back, girls, we’ll help you, we’ll give you some gloves.

So that went very well. Well, as I say, in another week, we would have to light the fires and it was just too bad if the wood was damp, because the girls would get mad, not having the place warmed up for them coming in. Because the huts were cold and we just had a lamp, a Tilley lamp to heat them with. No electricity. And then one night a week, we’d have dancing, late past 2:00 in the morning we used to dance. So that, we had a lot of fun. We used to say, well, do you think we’re going to make it tonight after sawing all the trees, our arms were tired. And we were always showing our muscles off of course.

And oh, there was always something interesting happening. I was on the horse one week and I says, look, I’m a city girl, I don’t know nothing about horses. But you had to hit Charlie in the rear end and haul the, the logs. Use I forget, was it a cant hook and you had to, you had to haul the logs along, you know, near where the girls were putting them on the trucks. Every week, you had a different job. But I didn’t like working with the horses, so they changed my job.

Anyway, that went on for three years. And then the war was over.

Oh, there was all kinds of lumber jobs all over Scotland. Different camps. And there was about three, six, eight to a hut. There was three huts. But all over Scotland, they had lumber joes, land army. The land army seemed to be, they were always with people, meaning there’s, they stayed in their homes, where they were milking the cows and all that. We were always cold and those rubber boots was a killer on the feet. Sometimes we were working up, it was a bog up to our knees in dampness. But the food could have been better. We got up about 6:30 in the morning, lined up for our, our breakfast consisted of porridge. I think we had a bit of bacon and sausage. And then off we would go.

We used to sing “trees, trees, trees, the girls are felling”. We used to sing when we were marching a different song, about the wood. We’ve still got them all. And then up to Inverness, we’d go in the train, all lined up, we waited for the train because we wanted to, the first place we made for was the restaurant. We wanted bacon and eggs because we were always starving. Sometimes we stayed for the dances at the dance and then we got the train back. Oh, it was, I would say it was a good healthy life. Thousands of girls up in the north of Scotland.

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