As lambing time drew to a close in 1945, news spread that the war in Europe was at last coming to an end. After a ceasefire, documents for unconditional surrender, typed by Antony Heald’s aunt, were signed by the Germans and 8 May was declared VE Day.
Undeterred by this excitement the Glencairn Nursing Association held their A.G.M. on 10 May when it was reported that ‘Nurse Young’s services continued to be much appreciated, and the work had been carried through in a satisfactory and sympathetic manner’ and a high percentage of immunisation of young children from diphtheria had been achieved. The resignation of Lady May was recorded ‘owing to her absence from the district.’ The elected office bearers were: Mrs Blair Cunynghame, Broomfield; Miss Dickson, Woodhouse; Mrs George Duncan, Kirkland; and Mrs Cecil Kennedy, Townhead. The association had completed 57 years work, ‘thus making it one of the oldest in the county’. In June the gardens at Crawfordton opened in aid of the Queen’s Institute of District Nursing, and in August Maxwelton opened house and garden with help from the pipes and drums of the Seaforth Highlanders.
Victory did not come without sacrifice and only now did Mrs Donaldson, Ayr Street, learn that her husband, previously reported missing, had been killed in action on 15 April. It would not be until September that Mr George Ewen got official news of the death of his son William, as a POW in the Far East in 1942.
Prisoners of war who returned home included Private James B. Wilson, ‘Kia Ora’, Moniaive, who had been a prisoner since June 1940. ‘He is loud in his praise of the Red Cross parcels, without which many of the men could never have survived’. Sergeant A. Muirhead, who had been captured at Arnhem, was liberated by the Russians. ‘He is very grateful to the Red Cross Society for parcels received’. They would be joined
later in the year by John Wilson of Ayr Street, freed by Australian forces in Sarawak.
Among the final donations to the Prisoners of War Food Parcels Fund for Dumfriesshire were those from Graham F. Macara (the grocers – Maxwell and Cranston); Mrs Stitt; the Misses Fergusson and Mrs Davidson, Ford Cottage, Tynron, whose son had been a POW. Mrs C. Louise Duncan (widow of the Rev. George Duncan, minister of Glencairn,) was secretary and treasurer. She closed the fund which had collected £ 48,156-19s and packed 445,422 parcels in four and half years.
This fund included a share of the Dumfriesshire Penny-a-week Collection organised by the Red Cross, in Tynron by Miss A.M. Macrae, and in Glencairn by Mrs E.S. Kennedy. This was in addition to the Red Cross flag day when Mrs McWilliam collected around Tynron and Miss McNaught in Glencairn.
Other charities doing their utmost to help the war effort were the K.O.S.B. Relief Fund which raised money in Tynron and the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Association, in addition to the Glencairn Welcome Home Fund. A loyal band of knitters kept the Duchess of Buccleuch’s Comforts Fund supplied with knitted garments – at least 30 a month coming from Glencairn. By August the total number of items produced was 152,252.
Corncrakes were heard calling regularly up Shinnel Water below Tynron, and up Scaur Glen near Penpont where two pairs nested. One pair settled up the Craigdarroch Glen.
At county level 985 people had collected enough sphagnum moss to make 150,000 hospital dressings over five years. They were used as a substitute for cotton wool. Another initiative was the collection of rose hips, organised by a joint committee of the W.V.S, and the W.R.I. for the Scottish Medicinal Plants Scheme. One pound of rosehips contained the Vitamin C equivalent to ten oranges. In 1944 Scotland collected 80 tons of hips which made 32,000 bottles of rose hip syrup. 1,000 gallons of syrup had been flown to France for refugee children from Poland.
The climax of the activities in Moniaive in the summer of ’45 was the ‘Great Fete’ on 25 August, following VJ Day and the great news that the war was over. A ‘Grand Victory Procession’ led by the Dumfries British Legion Pipe Band with horse drawn and motor vehicles; a fancy dress parade; mounted and children’s sports; a baby show, stalls and a horticultural display culminated with a ‘Grand Dance’.
Mr A. Millar, Kirkcudbright Farm, won four prizes with his horse, a ‘big chestnut which is usually seen in the district with the milkcart. It made a great show, however, as it is really a good mover.’
The judges of the baby show and Mrs Blair-Cunynghame, who had presented the prizes, were given bouquets by Maureen Maxwell.
It had all been designed to make MONIAIVE ‘The Hub of the Universe’.
Source: The Dumfries and Galloway Standard.
Note: The Glencairn Welcome Home Fund was a Comforts Fund throughout the war but under its new name, it continued running events until a social evening was held in the Institute on 28 June 1946 to distribute the funds.
© A.B. Hall