Veteran Stories:
Margaret Bannon

Army

  • Margaret's "Calling Up Papers" issued when she applied for Britain's Auxiliary Territorial Service. These papers instructed her to proceed for a medical examination at the recruiting office in her home town of Glasgow, Scotland, 1941.

    Margaret Bannon
  • A copy of a poem written for the first ATS woman to die in the war. Margaret was in the same artillery regiment that night, April 4, 1942, when they were getting bombed and this woman was hit with shrapnel.

    Margaret Bannon
  • Margaret Bannon's service medals (L-R): The Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-45.

    Margaret Bannon
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""The sirens went, and it was low-flying clouds. When it’s low-flying clouds, you fire at gun control.""

Transcript

I was Private Margaret Williams and then I got married, and I did my training in Dalkeith, Edinburgh. We joined the Ack-Ack gun sights and we were on duty in the south of England, and that was a little place called Nursling, outside of Southhampton. We were in action a lot down there, with the enemy planes coming in. The first ATS girl in our battery was killed by the shrapnel from the bombs.

We were on duty quite a bit. Actually, we were on duty this one night and the firing went, and of course we didn't have much time to run from the nissen huts to the command post. Get up there as fast as you can. The spotter is the main one. She's watching the skies for the enemy planes coming in, and then she'll shout, "Enemy planes approaching!" Then it would my job, number three on the height and range finder, to get that plane in focus. You took your time to gauge it right. You'd get two planes and you'd have to bring them down together on target, and then you'd shout, "On target!" The fuse box then puts in the fuse for the gun, and then the (?) shouted, "On target!" and the Commanding Officer gives the firing order. But the one night we had just got back into huts when we had to get up again. The sirens went, and it was low-flying clouds. When it's low-flying clouds, you fire at gun control. We did get that plane down that night, but the aerodrome just beyond us was ablaze. The Commanding Officer told us to take cover. I don't know if you know, but the gun sights have just got a brick wall around them. It's open all around and up above. I never thought I'd see my home town again, but I did!

There were some happy moments. I remember the one time… I'd never smoked in my life and I was the youngest at the time among the women in the nissen hut, and they offered me a cigarette. It was a 'wooly woodbine,' as we called them. The strongest cigarette you could get. I took one and before I knew it I had passed out, and here they were, waking me to get up, "You're on parade, Williams! You're on parade!"

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