Annie Forbes’ work as a housemaid

At the age of 14 in 1935 she went to work as a housemaid in Portgordon. It was a lovely house.  Her employer was a fisherman on the west coast and his wife repaired nets. She worked for the family cooking, cleaning the house and looking after their ten year old adopted child. Each morning at 8 a.m. She cycled from her home in Portgordon to Buckpool returning home at the end of the day at 5 p.m. Her weekly wage was paid 5 shillings a week working Monday to Friday. She didn’t get any holidays during the time she worked there. As was traditional at this time her wage was handed over to her Mother and she was given spending money back. After two years she went to work in Aberdeen again as a housemaid but this time she kept her own money sending some back home once a month. She married her husband, Bill a stonemason in 1939. He was almost immediately called up and she didn’t see him again for five years. She joined the RAF while her husband served in the Army. They were reunited after the war and got a home in Portessie.

Ensign of the Royal Air Force  Source wikicommonsDuring the war Annie was called up and placed in the WRAF. She was sent down to London and had to find digs and somewhere to base an office. She lived in a five storey house with her friend Helen. In another flat were two scottish men. One man went across to France in the middle of the night. They wore typical dustcoats. The buildings in central London were often damp and many people died of tuberculosis (TB). Annie and her friend dreaded the night time when the bombs were dropped on the city. When there was an air raid they had to go downstairs.  One time she got stuck in a shop and when the siren sounded everyone there had to go down to the basement. A cup of tea appeared from somewhere. She had to stay there until 6 a.m. the next morning until the bombing raid was over. When they were on duty their job was to record planes which arrived and their course.

Barrage Balloon Vehicle at Duxford Airforce Museum Source: wikicommons

Balloons could be launched from specialised vehicles.

As part of her war service Annie worked in Central Air Defence as a member of a barrage balloon crew. Annie was the driver of the engine which hoisted the balloon into the air. The balloons were moveable. When a crew spotted a german plane coming in they could move the balloons. The wires beneath the balloons caused problems for the planes so they had to fly above the balloons and so were less able to bomb a target near the balloons. At the end of an air raid the siren sounded.  Once the air raid was over the barrage balloons could be deflated.

Memory Contributed by Annie Forbes, Buckie

Additional information

of Barrage balloons over London during World War II. Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial can be seen in the middle ground. Source: wikicommonsInformation on barrage balloons.
In 1938 the British Balloon Command was established to protect cities and key targets such as industrial areas, ports and harbours. Balloons were intended to defend against dive bombers flying at heights up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m), forcing them to fly higher.

world war audio clips BBCBBC audio clips from World War Two
Listen to two raid sirens and an air raid in progress.There is more information on World War Two on the same site. See the links below.

Other information on the BBC website includes

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