The War Ended in 1945
Posted on June 18 2019
The war ended in 1945, I was five years old. I remember, my mother took me out of the baby boarding school I was at and at last I came to live with her and my new stepfather, who I hardly knew… as a matter of fact, I can only remember him coming into my life at this time, although they had been married since I was 2 1/2. He must have been away fighting in the war. I think he was in Burma. Tony Drew-Wilkinson was skeletal thin, I do remember that. We moved, my mother tells me, eight times in one year.
My memories of this time are few, but my adventures one Sunday at a Highland Scottish Officer’s Mess remain. We had been to church and had watched some regular Sunday Morning Highland games. The caber had been tossed several times, The Stone Put thrown and lo and behold, a Hammer, all by gentlemen wearing kilts. Of course all this was new to me. I had been locked away in baby homes all my life and my experiences of the real world were next to naught.
After the games, everyone met in the Officer’s Mess. Remember, the war was over and there was a sense of frivolity, excitement and abandonment among all the young adults.
On this occasion I do not remember seeing any other children. I was small, the table with refreshments was high, the tablecloth was white and all around me were kilts.
I was faced with the sporran. Not just one, but many, hanging just below eyelevel for this small five year old called Catharine. My main objective was to reach the potato crisps, nuts and anything else I could lay my hands on. Orange juice was diluted “Orange Squash”, a drink that had never seen an orange but to me, starved all my life from treats, it was something to fight for. Anytime any one of those kilted Officers turned, their kilt would flare slightly and basically knock me about. You see, the real kilt is heavy, full and rough to the cheek of a little girl. And the Sporrans were overwhelming. Many were made from a Badger mask with Topaz eyes and the hair hanging in long tufts around the mask was horse or goat hair. Oh and then there were the hairy knees, long socks and horror of horrors, a knife tucked into the sock, Skian Ddubh. These knives were in fact not frightening to me, but intriguing because of the lovely stone set into the top of each one. Many years later, my real Father introduced me to his family. He taught me that tradition dictates you never draw the blade from its sheath without drawing blood. He had a series of little scars on his wrist from nicking it with the blade to draw that blood. My brother cleans his nails with it these days… oh well, traditions can die fast.
My Stepfather was an officer in the Royal Scots, First Regiment Afoot and known as Pontias Pilate’s Bodyguard.