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Photo of Ellen Ainslie

Ellen Ainslie

Munitions Worker
Birthplace Berwickshire Paxton ScotlandPlace of Death Gretna Scotland Date of Birth: December 17, 1890 Date of Death: May 17, 1917


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by): Ellen Ainslie.

Gender: Female.

Date and Place of Birth: 17th December 1890, Paxton, Berwickshire, Scotland.

Date and Place of Death: 17th May 1917, HM Factory Gretna (Munitions), Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland.

Nationality: British.


Childhood: Her siblings were James (1885-?), Barbara (1886-1944), Jane (1888-1946), George (Wood) (1894-1961) and Mary Ainslie (1897-?). She also had seven half-siblings: James (1882-1935), Jane Gladstone (1884-1959), Elizabeth Ann (1884-1962), John (1887-1920), Alexander (1889-1893), George (1892-?) and Eleanor Ainslie (1899-1970).

Parents: James Ainslie (1854-1930) and Christina Wood (1859-1899).

Parent’s occupations: The 1911 England census states that her father’s occupation was a Sergeant or Water Bailiff. He is also recorded as a labourer. In the 1881 England Census he is recorded as a General Labourer.

In the 1881 England Census her mother was recorded as being a Domestic Servant.

Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: N/A.

Occupation: In the 1911 England Census she is recorded as being a domestic servant.

Place of residence at Gretna: N/A.

Job title at Gretna: Munitions worker.


Marital status: She married David Mackie (1890-?) on November 1st 1914 in Headley, All Saints, Surrey, England.

Children: N/A.

Travels: N/A.

Awards/recognitions: At the top of the first panel of the Tweedmouth War memorial is inscribed the name of Ellen Ainslie and the word “Munitions”.

Trivia / any other information: She was killed in an explosion at HM Factory Gretna, aged 27.

When she married her husband, he was a regular soldier in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. The wedding took place near to where his battalion was training.

This notice appeared in The Berwick Advertiser on 13th November: “At the Church of England, Headly, on the 1st November, David Mackie, Sergeant KOSB, Bordon, to Ellen Wood, 3rd daughter of Jas. Ainslie, West End, Tweedmouth.”

By April 1915 David was in France with the KOSB and Ellen volunteered to work at HM Factory Gretna.

Working with hazardous chemicals caused many health problems and probably contributed to Ellen’s death from “sudden cardiac failure”, on 17th May 1917, aged only 26, in a hostel in Gretna. She appears to have been suffering from cardiac failure for two months, probably brought on by her work in the munitions factory.  A later newspaper report gave her cause of death as “blood poisoning”. (As I have found three different causes of death I am unsure which is the most accurate).

This entry appeared in The Berwick Advertiser on 1st June 1917:  “MACKIE – At Gretna, on 17th May, Ellen beloved wife of CQMS D Mackie, also 3rd daughter of James Ainslie, Sergt of Water Bailiffs, West End, Tweedmouth, aged 26 years.”

Her father was water bailiff for the Tweed Commissioners.

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