During World War 1, Emily Anne Austin Borrowman was Telegraphist and Sorting Clerk, then later Postmistress, in South Queensferry Post Office, now the Clydesdale Bank on Queensferry High Street
Emily was born in Fullerton Farm, near Penicuik, in 1887 and was educated at Toxside School, Temple which she left in 1902. In 1905 she began her postal career, presumably as a trainee, at Gorebridge Post Office and her first official appointment was to Kirriemuir Post Office in 1908, and met her future husband George Alexander Mill there. She transferred to Galashiels Post Office in 1910 and in June 1914, she transferred to Edinburgh, which seems to have included South Queensferry. George Mill, who was wounded during World War 1, sent a postcard from France, to Emily, at Galasheils Post Office, which was redirected to Queensferry Post Office.
Queensferry Post Office
Emily seems to have been continuously at South Queensferry Post Office from September 1914 until about August 1917 but later transferred to Edinburgh, as in September 1918, she received a postcard, from George Mill, addressed to Post Office Staff, Leven Street, Edinburgh. However a postcard dated December 1918, sent to her home address at Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh, was redirected to Queensferry Post Office, Emily having returned as interim Postmistress for 10 months.
George returned from the war and they were married in 1920.
Emily Borrowman and George Mill, Wedding Photo
During Emily's time in Queensferry, she gathered lots of photos and kept an autograph album which comprised of about 70 writings and drawings, by, for the most part, sailors from the Grand Fleet. Most seem to be just before the Battle of Jutland, 1916.
Emily is remembered by one soldier, Arthur Donaldson, who wrote of her in the Scotsman in 1964. He recalls, while stationed in South Queensferry, seeing many ships returning to Rosyth in The Forth after the Battle of Jutland. He saw boats setting off for shore and "Queensferry was very 'lively'. The first call for many sailors was the Post Office to send telegrams to their relatives. A queue formed and the postmistress did a splendid job in weighing up the situation. She collected 6d or 9d from each sailor, took his Christian name and the address to send the message "I am safe" to his relatives. She then dismissed the queue and for hours sent off these telegrams. The sailors, their duty done to both home and country, went off to enjoy a well earned pint"
Images and information Copyright John D M Gordon to whom grateful thanks are due for permission to use his painstaking work.
In 1914, at the beginning of the War, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, and at a total cost of just under £10,000, the new Royal Naval Hospital was built beside the existing Naval Hospital at Butlaw, Queensferry. It was named the Queen Mary's and Princess Christian's Hospital. Queen Mary and Princess Christian at the time, had been offered the donation to build a Naval Hospital, and they chose the site, on ground belonging to the Marquis of Linlithgow.
At the time of an official Royal visit in November, it already held 200 sick and wounded sailors. The same donor erected a hospital in South Africa at the time of the Boer War!
Butlaw Naval Hospital
Butlaw Naval Hospital, image courtesy of John Gordon
Naval Hospital Ships
Naval Hospital Ships were used to treat and transport wounded sailors. On 15.8.1915 The Scotsman reported that a hospital ship arrived in the Forth, to disembark patients for whom accommodation was to be found at various points ashore, leaving the hospital ship free to rejoin the fleet at sea. 14 ambulance wagons and cars were employed to transport the wounded. Hand and foot injuries seemed most common and it was stressed that none of the injured were wounded in action at sea! A considerable number of the injured were taken to the Royal Naval Hospital in Queensferry. One such ship was the Hospital Ship Sheelah, which belonged to the wife of Admiral Beattie. In August 1914, Sheelah was presented by Lady Beatty to the Admiralty for use as a Hospital Ship. Ethel Beatty paid for much of the fitting out including an Operating Theatre whose design was later used in other Hospital ships. Sheelah was based at Rosyth.
Hospital Ship Sheelah, courtesy of John Gordon.
The following extract is from - British Journal of Nursing: November 21,1914: p 404 http;//rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME053-1914/page404-volume53-21stnovember1914.pdf ‘Princess Christian last week paid a visit to the Queen Mary and Princess Christina Hospital at South Queensbury on the Firth of Forth , where there are at present a number of sick cases from the Fleet in the wards , and afterwards visited Lady Beatty, wife of Rear Admiral Sir David Beatty, on board the steam yachtSheelah which is now equipped as a hospital ship.’
At the outbreak of WW1, the British Red Cross and the order of St John of Jerusalem combined to form the Joint War Committee. They pooled their resources under the protection of the Red Cross Emblem. As the Red Cross had secured buildings, equipment and staff, the organization was able to set up temporary hospitals as soon as wounded men began to arrive from abroad. The buildings varied widely, ranging from town halls and schools to large and small private houses both in the country and cities. The most suitable ones were established as Auxiliary Hospitals. Auxiliary Hospitals were attached to central Military Hospitals, which looked after patients still under military control. There were over 3,000 Auxiliary Hospitals administered by Red Cross county directors. http://www.redcross.org.uk/~/media/BritishRedCross/Documents
There were 166 Auxiliary Hospitals in Scotland. Hopetoun House and Dalmeny House were two such Hospitals. As most of the trained nurses were serving on the front, the shortage at home fell to volunteer nurses in many Auxiliary Hospitals, supported by a trained matron and volunteer doctors. In many cases, women in the local area volunteered on a part time basis. The hospitals often needed to supplement the voluntary work with paid roles such as cooks. Local medics volunteered despite the extra strain the medical profession was already under at that time.
Hopetoun House Auxiliary Hospital
On 12.3.1915, The Scotsman reported that Lord Linlithgow had fitted the Ballroom of Hopetoun House as an Auxiliary Hospital with 41 beds. It was staffed by a Matron and 11 voluntary nurses. The only alterations needed were the addition of a kitchen and office. Men were arriving regularly from the first line hospitals. The patients under treatment at that time, mostly suffer from bullet wounds in the limbs and frostbite. The 'Edinburgh Committee for Providing Concerts for the Wounded Soldiers', arranged concerts to entertain the convalescents. Hopetoun House was among a list of hospitals and camps visited. From November 1915 to New Year's Day 1916, 64 concerts were arranged.
Dalmeny Park Military Hospital
On 13.11.1914 The Scotsman reported Her Royal Highness Princess Christian visited Dalmeny Hospital. Her Royal Highness was received by Lord Rosebery and after the various members of staff had been presented, she made a tour of the wards. Her Royal Highness spoke to the individual patients of whom there are over 80 at present in the hospital, and expressed at the end of her visit her great apprehension of the comfort of the patients and the general arrangements of the hospital. On 21 3 1916, the Scotsman reported that an ambulance train from England had arrived at the Caledonian Station, Edinburgh, with 124 sick and wounded soldiers. 35 men were taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, 20 to Craiglieth Hospital and 40 to Dalmeny Hospital.
One nurse who served at Dalmeny House was Susan Deverille Munro. Born in Sutherlandshire, she trained in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary before serving in Dalmeny House Hospital. She later served at various hospitals in France and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid at Etaples, France in May, 1918.