Letter from West End Cottage, Kirkmichael, Ayrshire (about 1939)
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While browsing through my memory box I found a letter (below) from my Gran to my Grandpa when she, along with my mum and uncle, was evacuated to Kirkmichael. It was written from West End Cottage which I believe still exists. There is no date but my Uncle Jim, who is the baby in the letter, was born in December 1938 so I assume it was written in 1939. I thought it may be of interest to anyone living there at the time. One little bit of translation may be required, the 'pictures' my Gran mentions means cinema.

Thanks for the upkeep of this fantastic site.
Regards Annette Mitchell nee Cook Glasgow, Scotland (January 2004)

West End Cottage




Dear James,

                        I am sorry I did not manage to send a telegram as promised, but hope that Mrs. Beattie delivered my address to you before you receive this.

                        I cannot go into details of all that has past here as it would take too long, but we happened to be very unfortunate regarding our lodgings. We were taken to one house where a very old man stayed alone, and could get no reply so had to return to billeting quarters again. Of course I had to carry Jim all the time and that did not help matters.

                        However, after waiting until the very last, another woman and I were fixed up in a cottage along with our families (this woman has five of a family) but oh what a house! This house is supposed to be occupied during the winter months by the owners who have a farm somewhere nearby. It was in a filthy condition and the woman and I have been cleaning up since we came in, scarcely stopping to take a cup of tea. Cobwebs over everything, no pots, pans, beds or anything. Jim was put into the bottom drawer of a wardrobe in a blanket to sleep. We had to go into the village to get a bottle of milk heated as I was frightened to give him any more cold milk. We had no coal to light a fire, I wonder if she thought she was housing pigs?

                        I would have come home at once only the villagers have been so kind. One man came in his car and gave us a very large basket of tomatoes then came back with coal until we got coal of our own. A woman gave me her pram until I could get my own. I think I had better stop telling you any more as it would take too long.

                        The officers brought us new blankets and things are looking a bit better now, but has left us pretty tired especially as Jim was very cross. Of course he couldnít be otherwise. It would have been ideal if it had been ready for occupancy as we have the house to ourselves. I have a room and kitchen with use of bathroom and scullery. We have electric light but no gas, back and front door and a nice bit of ground at the back. The owner receives 31/- from the government for housing us but believe me she should be paying us for cleaning the place.

                        The headmaster, who is in charge of affairs here, visited us today to see how we were managing and I told him I was seriously thinking of going home and I told him a few home truths about the place. He was very nice indeed and advised me to try and remain now that war has broken out. He was going straight up to her place in his car to have a good talk with her. He said she ought to have had a woman in to clean the place up as she was being paid for the house.

Of course donít think because of this that conditions here are all the same. Some of the people have got into comfortable homes and some of the children are in a big home where they are having a grand time. Minister and schoolmaster have got children in their homes, we have just been unfortunate.

I have been advised to tell you to go to Mr. Allardyce, Bath Street who is in charge of evacuation and ask him if he can have the babyís pram sent down to the billeting quarters in Kirkmichael as baby has no bed here. If they send it down you wonít be charged for carriage because after all we are providing a bed and should not be made to pay for carriage. I have to provide food for Betty, Jim and myself and some of the foodstuffs are very dear. Cheapest eggs are 2/-. I am going to make enquiries tomorrow regarding the upkeep of two homes as it just canít be done.

            If you are not working on Sunday perhaps you could come down for the weekend. You would have to take a train to Maybole and then get a bus, as Kirkmichael is 3 miles from Maybole.  Or else take the bus to Ayr, then another bus to Kirkmichael, come off at he town hall and the house is only 3 minutes walk up.

I went to bed at two oíclock on Sunday morning  and rose at seven and after breakfast never managed to get another cup of tea till five oíclock at night, we have been so busy getting things shipshape. It is now quarter past one on Sunday morning as I am writing this. The kiddies are sound asleep and quite content looking.

            I will have to watch for the postman going down in the morning as there is only two mails a day. There isnít any pictures and there are only four shops and need I add there is no noise.

            How are you managing at home? Are you fixed up with anybody or have you got anybody to do your cooking and washing? I suppose you will be finding it very lonely but although things are looking black letís hope that the clouds will roll away and that we wonít be long away from each other, because I know that I am missing you and home.

Did you get any news of Katie and Maggie and all the nieces and nephews in Govan? You can write and tell me all the news as we will need plenty of letters here it is so quiet.

Tell all at home I was asking for them.

Yours forever
            Annie xxxxx

Donít worry about us as we will get along alright. Just hoping you will manage also.

 See also another story and photo of children evaluated during the war in Kirkmichael

More personal accounts on the BBC WW2 People's War