Ladies from hell

The poignant front-page photograph of Scottish soldiers in your First World War supplement (8 July) brought to mind meeting an elderly man at my father’s funeral in Wales in 1974. Old Mr Morris, as he was known in the valley, was particularly pleased to meet my husband, whom he greeted warmly as a “Scotchman”.

He went on to relate his particular affection for the “Scotch”.

Like some others, he had been less than honest about his age (14 at the time) to join up in 1914 and had found himself, with his brother soldiers, in “dire straits” somewhere in France not long afterwards.

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Surrounded by the noise of heavy bombardment and fragments of hymns being sung by others, the sergeant suddenly called: “Quiet!” They all listened to what he said was “the most terrible noise” drifting towards them. “What is that?” the boy soldier asked, fearing the worst. “That, my boy”, said the sergeant, “is the sound of the ladies from hell. Scotch boys playing their bagpipes. Thank God they have come to save us.”

Pearl McCabe

Ravelston Dykes Road