How relieved some British Troops must have been in December 1916 to be told they were being given leave to go back home for a short time. War was not going well, and whilst most troops suffered those cold, terrible conditions in the trenches, others were most fortunate to arrive back in Britain for the holiday season with loved ones.
Of course the Scottish troops had further to go that most, the London train taking them to Motherwell and on to Glasgow. On Friday 22nd December 1916, the YMCA workers had a busy time co-ordinating with the soldiers arriving off the trains, giving each a welcome parcel and helping with where they needed to go.
Blantyre, Burnbank and Hamilton soldiers given this ‘leave’ alighted at Motherwell and though it was 2.30am, in the darkness, were greeted by the YMCA workers who gave them the welcome news that the Tramway Company had put on a special “nighttime car” to take them back to their towns. It was a special Christmas kindness, the Company taking every opportunity to help the “boys from the trenches”.
Can you just imagine what they were thinking on that tram only an hour away from being reunited with loved ones, in the middle of the night and after so many months fighting away from home.
From the forthcoming book, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2019