Nov 8 2012 By Jackie Grant, Galloway News
Many years have passed since Margaret Proudlock was a teenage war worker at a munitions factory in Dumfries.
But the memories of her time there will come flooding back to the 89-year-old on Sunday - when she makes history by laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in London.
The event will mark a historic moment in a campaign, led by local MP Russell Brown, to gain formal recognition for the munitions workers for the sacrifices they made for their country during both World Wars.
Mrs Proudlock, from Shawhead, and Dumfries woman Margaret Shields, also 89 years old, will be the only former munitions workers from Scotland taking part in the official Armistice Day Parade in Whitehall.
Margaret Proudlock was 18 years old when her dad told her she had to do her bit for the war, “get herself to ICI, and earn some money like her sister.”
For the next three years, she was picked up in a minibus with slatted wooden seats from her home in Lochfoot and dropped off at the Drungans site at Cargenbridge. The plant was built in 1939 to produce explosives for World War II and commissioned by The Ministry of Supply in January 1941. At peak wartime production there was a workforce of 1350 – more than half of them women - and over 1.1 million tons of acid were produced with 37,500 tons of guncotton delivered to Ministry of Supply factories at Powfoot and Dalbeattie to be turned into cordite.
Mrs Proudlock recalls: “I went to Dumfries High School but left when I was 14 to go into service at Newtonairds. I was there for a year and a half before I went to Comlongon Castle.
“My elder sister worked at ICI and my dad told me I had to do the same to earn some money during the war. It was important to do your bit. It was a hard job, but I enjoyed the camaraderie and if it hadn’t been for us making the gun powder, soldiers on the front wouldn’t have been able to get on with their jobs.”
Margaret worked there for three years before her marriage to late husband Roland, an agricultural contractor.
“Working at Drungans was dangerous at times and we had to wear protective clothing and wellington boots because we were working with acid,” she said. “It used to splash up and go through my woollen jumper and left me with holey bras.
“We had coupons to buy clothes then. When I was preparing to get married at 21 years old, I was so happy because I got the last white bra in my size from Binns in Dumfries for my wedding.
“I wore a secondhand bridal dress and everyone from the village and surrounding area came to celebrate with us as it was the first wedding in Lochfoot after the war.”
For the last 60 years, the mother-of-five has lived in Shawhead. She was thrilled when local MP and Shadow Defence Minister Russell Brown invited her to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.
Mr Brown said: “Armistice Day is always a moving occasion where we remember all those who given up their lives in defence of our country. This year it will have even more special meaning for the thousands of former munitions workers and their families. For the first time there will be a very public acknowledgement of the sacrifices they have made.”
And Margaret is looking forward to her “adventure” to London.
“I feel very honoured. I’m so glad we’re finally being recognised for the difficult and dangerous work we carried out. We all did it to help our country in a time of need.”