Helen Boyd Reid was born in Glasgow in 1914, of parents John Reid and Martha Hamill.
Helen never knew her father. On 31 July 1918, he was wounded in action, with a gun shot to his right thigh, in the last months of WWI. He was evacuated on the HMAT Warilda, when it was torpedoed by the German submarine, UC-49, between Le Havre and Southampton. The ship sank with 123 of 801 lives lost. John Reid was missing, assumed drowned. I won’t attempt to recount the tragic sinking- you can read about it by clicking on https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/ss-warilda-troopship-hospital-ship-ambulance-transport-wreck
With her father dead, Helen’s mother could not afford to live in Scotland and they moved back to Ireland and lived in a farmhouse between Bushmills and Ballycastle, near her family. In 1933 Helen married Elias Wallace Elliott of nearby Bushmills.
The Elliott family lived in the middle of the three row houses in the following photo. To the left were the Stuart family and to the right was that of Dan Taggart.
To the left of the houses and across the lane into Glenmanus village, were the old Irish cottage and farm buildings of my great-uncle Bill Douglas and his sister, Letitia. To the right was the saw mill of John Rainey and Dhu Varren dairy. Opposite was John Rainey’s construction yard.
Mrs Elliott’s youngest son was Malcolm, born soon after I arrived on the scene.
For my first five years, my parents lived in a little wooden hut, less than 1oo m up the road from the Elliotts. When I was very young, about three, my mother spent six months in a sanitarium in Derry, struck down with tuberculous. Our neighbour, Mrs Wilson, looked after me, for in those days, my father worked all day on his fledging farm, and every night played with his dance band in Portrush.
I suspect that Mrs Elliott helped out in looking after me, for I can clearly remember being in her house and clambering up the stairs to the landing and being picked up and carried back down.
After my parents build a house and moved his poultry farm to Islandflackey, my contact with Malcolm was limited to the primary school at Carnalridge and youth events at the nearby Ballywillan Church. I had no relationship with Malcolm’s brothers, for they were much older than we were, but every Sunday morning the whole family used to troop into the church, to their pew in the corner of the western transept. I always sat with Trevor Gaston and David Adams at the back of the nave.
During our last summer, before moving on to secondary schools, I arranged a blind date for Malcolm, so that I could be with my first love. We were eleven years old at the time. We met outside John Rainey’s house, across from the road that leads into Glenmanus village, and we walked up the long lane that led past Caldwell’s farm, holding the girl’s hands. Unfortunately one of Malcolm’s brothers spotted us, and that was the end of our romantic excursions, albeit not for long. We were soon back in action.
When I was eighteen, I left for Canada, and apart from seeing Malcolm during one visit to my parents, I lost contact with the Elliott family, although my father used to keep me well informed. I believe that Tom was an accountant; John was a joiner; Maurice was a mechanic, later to be a blacksmith; Pat was also a mechanic – I bumped into him one evening that I took my father out to dinner; and Malcolm was a painter. When he was an apprentice, Malcolm painted the sign for my father’s ‘Greenacres Poultry Farm’.
The only other contact I had with Malcolm was at at a reunion of the Ballywillan Boys Brigade; I think it was the 50th reunion, in November 2004. And I heard no more from him until 19 December 2017, when I was in a bar in Alicante and he sent me an email. He had come across my blog and we have been in contact ever since. Sadly his father died in 1982 and his brother, Tom, died in recent years.
Macolm recently sent me the following photographs of his mother, his brothers and his own family. They are photos to be treasured.
When we were teenagers, we used to think that Malcolm looked a bit like Adam Faith. I could not resist including an Adam Faith recording to remind me of those crazy days.