IT was in 1939, when the British public were wakening up to the impending dangers of war – with the hurried construction of air raid shelters and barrage balloons hovering in the skies above – that Margaret Miller signed up with the Women’s Voluntary Services.
Today, Mrs Miller – now 104 – is the oldest serving volunteer with the organisation now known as the Royal Voluntary Service.
“I remember a marvellous sense of relief war was over”Margaret Miller
And now she is to receive a special thank you as the charity celebrates VE Day, marking the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory ending the Second World War in Europe.
Nicknamed “the army that Hitler forgot”, the volunteer women in their green uniforms formed a formidable civilian force, numbering one million by 1943.
Their duties included first aid and providing food for people injured in bombing raids, as well as helping to evacuate and billet children.
Mrs Miller, from Springboig, Glasgow, was sent to the city’s Royal Infirmary where she supported the injured, among them wounded troops.
She said: “I decided to volunteer in 1939 because I thought it was time to help the war effort.
“During that time we had wounded soldiers brought to local hospitals, so I visited those soldiers who had no family in Scotland on VE Day [8 May, 1945, 70 years ago today].
“I remember feeling a marvellous sense of relief that the war was over.”
Mrs Miller still volunteers at a club for stroke victims, which she set up more than 35 years ago, and in 2013 became one of a handful of people to be awarded a second British Empire Medal. “I started the first stroke club in Scotland because there was nothing else being done to help people who had experienced a stroke, and I still volunteer there as often as possible today,” she said.
David McCullough, chief executive of the charity, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to the women who built the foundations of the Royal Voluntary Service we know today by providing practical help to anyone who needed it during the Second World War.
“Without their compassion and commitment to the cause, life on the home front may well have fallen apart. VE Day must have been a very special day for our volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the war.”