The Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science (affectionately known as the ‘Dough School’) may not immediately come to mind when one thinks of D-Day. Yet in the form of the flag carried into battle by the 308 Battery 128th (Highland) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery 51st Division, the College was represented.
It was just prior to June 1944 that the Major of the regiment mentioned to his mother that his men would be forced to go overseas without a Battery flag. In most instances this would be the end of the story. However, his mother was Mrs Lang, a Governor of the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science. The girls of the Dough School were not going to let the men go into battle without properly representing themselves. A member of college staff, Miss Betty Morton, alongside two student volunteers, Anne Wallace (nee Hamilton) and Kathleen Goodall worked quickly and diligently to create a beautiful silken flag of the Battery’s insignia. It was a race against the clock, but with their skill and dedication, the trio finished in time.
The flag was flown at the historic D-Day landing as well the following route in the Campaign for North West Europe 1944/45:
Normandy landing at Courseulles-sur-Mer
|S Pierre sur Dives||Ardennes|
|Le Havre||River Rhine at Rees|
The Major had promised his mother that if the Battery were able to return the flag safely, it would be presented back to the College.
So it came to be that in October 1945, the flag was returned to the place of its creation.
As Dorothy Melvin, the College Principal noted at the official ceremony, though the flag was not in the same pristine condition as it had once been, its imperfections reflected the story of selflessness and sacrifice that was the heart of the war effort. It would hang in the College hall as a reminder to all students of the virtues of duty and sacrifice.
In 2000, Anne Wallace, who more than half a century earlier had been one of the makers of the flag, began corresponding with the University Archivist and divulged her memory of the story.
Anne Wallace is sadly no longer with us. We are fast coming to the end of living memory for what is sometimes called ‘the greatest generation’. It is not solely the role of archivists to preserve these memories, however when people do entrust us with their personal treasures it is our pleasure to safeguard them for future generations.
Glasgow Caledonian University Archive Centre is proud to house as part of the records of the Queen’s College, Glasgow this 75 year old flag. The welcome addition of Anne’s precious press cuttings reminds us once more that archives are just peoples’ stories.