Women at War

Queensferry Post Office Emily Borrowman Postmistress is second from the left. © John Gordon
Clydesdale Bank, Queensferry High Street, before it closed down

Emily Borrowman was the postmistress and telegraphist in Queensferry. She became the darling of sailors and soldiers who passed through Queensferry. Her office, where the Clydesdale Bank is today, was often swamped with servicemen sending telegrams and Emily’s collection of postcards from her admirers and memorabilia of the time tell the story of wartime life in Queensferry. Emily left a fabulous archive of photographs and servicemens art which we display with permission.

Emily Borrowman, image: ©John Gordon

During Emily’s time in Queensferry, she gathered lots of photos and kept an autograph album which comprised of about 70 writings and drawings, by, for the most part, sailors from the Grand Fleet. Most seem to be just before the Battle of Jutland, 1916.

Emily is remembered by one soldier, Arthur Donaldson, who wrote of her in the Scotsman in 1964. He recalls, while stationed in South Queensferry, seeing many ships returning to Rosyth in The Forth after the Battle of Jutland. He saw boats setting off for shore and “Queensferry was very ‘lively’. The first call for many sailors was the Post Office to send telegrams to their relatives. A queue formed and the postmistress did a splendid job in weighing up the situation. She collected 6d or 9d from each sailor, took his Christian name and the address to send the message “I am safe” to his relatives. She then dismissed the queue and for hours sent off these telegrams. The sailors, their duty done to both home and country, went off to enjoy a well earned pint”

Left – Sketch by a sailor, possibly of Emily, by A Howell of HMAS Australia. Right – Sketch by A Elliot, HMS New Zealand, 1916.

Left – A drawing by one of Emily’s Sailors, T Hayley of HMS Hindustan, Grand Fleet 1916. Image: © John Gordon

Images and information Copyright John D M Gordon to whom  grateful thanks are due for permission to use his painstaking work.

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