WW2 evacuee reconnects with Broch hosts after 75 years

Betty MacDonald and her family
Betty MacDonald and her family

A woman who was evacuated to Fraserburgh during World War 2 has reconnected with the family she stayed with for the first time in 75 years.

Betty MacDonald, from Glasgow, stayed in the Broch for two years during the war from 1939 to 1941 with Mrs Annie McRae and her family on Moray Road.

Now 86, Betty wrote a letter to the Herald hoping that she could get in touch with the family she has not heard from since 1941, and remarkably a few a weeks later she got a response.

Jean Smith wrote to Betty to say that she was the granddaughter of Annie McRae and the daughter of Lottie Wilson - Lottie being Annie’s daughter who Betty remembers as living downstairs when she stayed in Fraserburgh.

The 11-year-old Betty left for Fraserburgh in September 1939 with her brother and sister carrying a gas mask and a tin cup as they were taken to the train station to make their way north.

She remembers being given Bournville chocolate at Stirling which she says she has “never eaten since” before arriving in the Broch.

She said: “We got off the train at Fraserburgh and we were marched over to the Drill Hall and we were all allocated to the people that had taken us.”

Betty and her sister spent their first two days staying with one woman in Fraserburgh who Betty says “couldn’t handle us” so she was taken back to the offices before Mrs McRae decided to take them in.

Attending North School in Fraserburgh Betty said she enjoyed her time in the Broch immensely.

She said: “My brother stayed with a Mrs Buchan across the road from us and we used to go and fish on the rocks .

Betty also recalled a few of her other memories of her time spent in the Broch during the war, including a barber who gave her, “nips in my ears where he used to cut my hair.”

She said: “There was a woman on Kinnaird Road and she would go around all the houses and collect clothes and then we would get the clothes for a ha’penny.

“One time there was an air raid on and there was this man who was opening his window and closing it and then he was lifted.”

The window incident happened on the former Marconi Road and Betty said she later heard the man was supposed to be a German spy.

Betty has since returned to Fraserburgh but hopes next month to bring up her whole family including her six children, five girls and her son.