Social Life

to be with his ain folk, happy to roam his native hills and to give his special talents freely to all who asked him to perform. It is to be hoped that his collection of songs will find a place in the Peebles Library.

Peebles, in the summer of 1913, enjoyed a lovely spell of hot weather; there was no rain from early July to late August. The Gutterbluid Club, thinking of their kinsfolk overseas, had sent sprigs of heather to Canada and America to be distributed to Peebleans. The Peebles Territorials, about fifty in number and under the command of Lieutenant G. H. Ballantyne, went off to their annual training camp which was at Monzie, near Crieff in Perthshire. A year later, the territorials were preparing to go to France and Peebleans at home and abroad were mustering to share in the long hard-fought struggle of the First World War. In under three months the homes of Peebles families were receiving Belgian refugees who had to flee from their country as the German Army advanced towards France. Dr C. B. Gunn writes most movingly of their arrival at the Caledonian Station on Thursday, 29 October 1914:


It was a dark and dreary night as the band of exiles crossed the bridge at Peebles . . . They were weary and dejected and their little ones silent in the sleep of exhaustion. The townspeople strove to relieve the tired mothers of their tender burdens. The Provost and Magistrates conveyed the little procession, while on the night wind fluttered the folds of their country's flag. A great crowd pressed upon them, and along the bridge and up the High Street fitful outbursts of cheering stirred the night.2


Apparently staying for a much shorter time in the town was the spy named Lodi who was later to be executed at the Tower of London. It later became known that he made an overnight stop in Peebles and then cycled on to Edinburgh, having stayed at the County Hotel as 'Charles A. Inglis from New York, USA'.3

Despite the widely-held view that the war would soon be over, it took four long years whilst our young men - and some not so young - faced the dangers of bullet, shell and poison gas and endured the awful conditions of mud and the trenches. At home in Peebles, hearts ached.4

In 1917 everyone was asked to eat less bread and meat, to use more potatoes and oatmeal and to avoid waste. The scarcity of certain