Kin & Roots

My mother's story.

My mother was born on the 18th of August 1919 at 1 Fountain Street, Banff. She was baptized Jessie, but was known by familiy and friends all her life as Janet. Her father George Gault (Dodie) was a fisherman and worked on the steam-drifter Inverboyndie. He was 44 years old when my mother was born. His wife Maggie was 38.

They were married on the 18th of December 1906 at Whitehills, Parish of Boyndie, after Banns according to the Forms of the Established Church of Scotland. George was then a bachelor of 31, Maggie was 25. Witnesses were John Goodbrand and Janet Gault.

Together they raised four children, 3 boys and 1 girl. George was their oldest, born on the 3rd of October 1908 at 51 St. Catherine Street. Frank was born on the 29th of December 1909 also at 51 St. Catherine Street, and Alick was born on the 9th of September 1913 at 1 Fountain Street.

In the autumn of 1923 tragedy struck down. My grandmother Maggie suddenly became ill and died on the 10th of October at Chalmers Hospital at the age of 42. The cause of death was haematemesis. The family was then living in their newly bought house - "Primrose Hill" - at the corner of St.Catherine Street (no 45) and Campbell Street.

My mother had just turned 4, and her elder brothers were 15, 14 and 10. As my grandfather was unable to look after my mother, she was raised by her aunt Ann(ie) (her mother's sister). Aunt Annie was then 53 years old and was married to James Bruce, also a fisherman. They had raised three children of their own : James ("Cackie") Bruce (born 1901), John Goodbrand Bruce (born 1902) and Jessie Mair Bruce (born 1905). The families lived close at the time in the Seatown of Banff, so my mother really was living next door to her father and brothers.

In 1927 tragedy struck again. Both my mother's elder brothers became ill, and died within a short period. First Frank died on the 10th of May 1927 at Chalmers Hospital. The cause of death was nephritis uraemia. Frank was then 17 years old and was working at the post office in Banff. One year later, on the 28th of July 1928, my mother's eldest brother George died of the same illness as Frank. He was almost 20 years old when he died.

Mor i Banff 1 Konfirmasjon Mor i Banff 2

My mother went to school at the Banff Academy until she reached the age of fourteen. She was clever at school, her favorite subjects being arithmetics and science. In her last year at school (1932) her report-card shows however that her attendance rates drop, and she hardly attended school at all the third and last term. Probably she was kept home doing duties and work to pay for her living. My mother told me she always had to help others with their homework after finishing her own, and that she regretted having tro leave school.

December 20th 1934
The Education Committee of Banff County Council.
David MacKenzie, MA, Rector of Banff Academy.

Janet Gault received her education in this school and left on June 1933 after completing 2 years in the Advanced Division. She was a pupil of good ability and of excellent character and conduct, eminently diligent and reliable.

David MacKenzie, MA, Rector

My mother now started her working career. She has taken care of all her old certificates and references, so I will try to reconstruct her career as precisely as possible. As can be seen from the photograph below, one of her first jobs must have been as a shop assistant by Baker & Confectioner Wilson Ross.
(mother at right).

Later she got a job at Cook's Seed Stores in 63. High Street. Here are her references when she left in april 1937.

Banff, April 10th

Miss Janet Gault has been employed by me for over two years. I have found Miss. Gault very efficient, smart at work, honest, intelligent, obliging & of a cheerful disposition. She leaves me of her own free will. I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending Miss. Gault.

Robert Cook

My mother now started working as a servant in Queen's Hotel in Aberdeen. Here are her references when she left :

August 3rd 1938
Queen's Hotell
53 Queen's Road

This is to certify that Jessie Gault has been employed here for eighteen months. She has proved herself a very good servant, always taking a great interest in her work. Honest, tidy and obliging. I can recommend her for a good servant. Any further particulars can be had from.

Yours truly
James McWilliam

Her last employment before the war broke out was in a private household in Aberdeen. Here are her credentials :

April 9th 1940

Miss Janet Gault has been in my employment as a general servant for one and a half years. She has a pleasant manner, is honest and obliging, and is a good worker. During the time she spent here she had considerable experience in plain cooking.

62 Carden Place
Mrs. M. B. Brebner

During the war my mother was employed by the NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutions), and worked as a canteen manager at the RAF-base in Lossimouth. She had her lodgings by Mrs. McKenzie, Heather Cottage, Miltonduff, Elgin.

I don't know how, where or when my father and mother met for the first time. My father was stationed at different places during the war. I think he first was stationed in Dumfries, then moved to Callander north of Stirling, before ending up in Dingwall in the autumn of 1942. After a short stay in Dingwall my father moved back to Callandar. Dingwall was not far from Elgin, so possibly they met at a private party or in a pub in Elgin ? My mother has kept two loveletters from my father. The first one is dated the 14th of February 1943. It is written and posted from Brahan Castle, Dingwall. It seems from this letter they had been corresponding for some time - may be since Christmas 1942 ? Here is an excerpt from his letter :

"I shall be so glad when the war is over Janet, I am so awfully tired of being in the army and doing the same things day in day out. I get so bored. I don't know what to do with myself at times, as I am longing so for the sealife, but things will be different when I can see you and be together with you again, as I am missing you a lot dearest"

The second letter from my dad to my mother is not dated, but it must have been written in the beginning of February 1944. It is the letter of proposal. My father asks about my mother's visit to the doctor, so I expect my mother is pregnant with their firstborn Nancy Asora. I expect my mother gave a positive answer. My father got a permit from the army from the 12th - 29th of February 1944. They married on the 15th of February 1944 at The High Church in Elgin. My father was then 28 years old and my mother 24. They married in their uniforms, and witnesses to their marriage were Annie Shand and Walter Pickering.

My mother took care of many of the telegrams of congratulations from family and friends :

"Wishing you all the best in your future happiness".
Love Kitty.

"A Gault less, an Andersen more, may there be
Andersen galore!"
NAAFI Staff. St. James Canteen, Lossimouth.

"May all your spuds be golden wonders".
Love Old NAAFI Staff.

"To Jenny. Wishing you all the happiness in the
Syd & Adam

On the 24th of July 1944 their baby girl - Nancy Asora - was born. She was named after my father's sister Nancy. She was born at 9 P.M. in the evening at 63 Castle Street in Banff, and baptized on the 9th of October. My father was stilled stationed in Callander, but I expect he visited my mother and baby as often as possible. Unfortunately their mutual happiness did not last for long. Nancy Asora became seriously ill with pneumonia in the winter, and she died on the 22nd of December that same year of acute loban pneumonia. That Christmas must have been terrible for my parents, filled with sorrow, grief and uncertainty about the future.

Nancy Asora

War was coming to and end. My father left for Norway in the late summer of 1945, and later that autumn my mother followed. On the 11th of October 1945 she sends the following telegram to my father's sister Nancy :

"Leave Scotland monday 15th of October on SS Kong Dag. Please inform Hilding. Love Janet Andersen."

It must have been a quiet first meeting, as my mother didn't understand or speak a word norwegian, and my aunt didn't understand or speak english. I don't know why my father wasn't there, but I expect he was tied up in some military business, as he was still enrolled in the army.

I expect my mother must have felt very lonely at times. Slowly however she picked up some norwegian words and phrases. She told me her father-in-law was very empathic and patient with her, and slowly they grew very fond of each other. The relationship with her mother-in-law however was strenuous. Soon my mother became a member of the British Club in Fredrikstad, and slowly buildt up lasting friendships with girls in the same position as herself. One of these friends was "aunt Tilly" from Canada. She lived close to my mother in Greåker, and gave my mother strength through many a difficult time the first years.

Farfar og mor hjemme i stua på Greåker Mor, far og tante Tilly