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Jean MockrieMunitions Worker
Email dated Oct 2020: ‘I believe my great aunt, Jean Mockrie, who came from Lesmahogow, may have worked at the factory, before she married Thomas Fox in September 1918. On her marriage certificate she is described as a Munitions Worker.’
Email dated April 2021: ‘ My mother’s mother was born Kate Helena Fox, and she had five siblings, one of whom was Thomas Fox. So Kate was my grandmother, and Thomas was my great uncle. Thomas was born on 25th August 1893. The family lived in Lancaster, and Thomas was a wood machinist at the local cabinet makers, the famous firm of Waring and Gillow, where he had been apprenticed. At the outbreak of the First World War, when Thomas was 21, he was one of the first 200 men in Lancaster to enlist in the army following a call for volunteers. He joined the 5th battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. After initial training, his regiment left for France in February 1915. In May 1915, Thomas was wounded in the second battle of Ypres. In September 1916, Thomas was sent to serve in the Royal Defence Corps, where soldiers who were deemed medically unfit to serve abroad were sent to guard sensitive wartime sites, such as ports, bridges and munition factories. In August 1917, he left the army as ‘no longer physically fit for war service’. On 6th September 1918, he married Jean Mochrie at her village church at Lesmahagow. Jean’s full name was Jean Coupland Mochrie. Her father was called James and her mother Isabella. On the marriage certificate, Jean is described as a Munition Worker, and Thomas as a Wood Worker Machinist. Thomas’s address is given as Bruce Street, Annan. There is a record of a ‘Thomas Fox, machinist’ in the local government valuation roll for the Dumfries area for 1920/21, living as the tenant at 19, The Rand, Eastriggs. The landlord of that property is given as the Township Department, H M Factory, Gretna. Putting all those facts together, I think it is possible that Thomas may have been posted to the Gretna factory site in the Royal Defence Corps, found a job there as a wood machinist after he left the army, and met Jean whilst there (given that the Gretna Factory was something of a marriage bureau, with its organised social life of dances and clubs to keep the largely young workforce happy). As the war was coming to a close, they married, and may have lived at The Rand in Eastriggs. By 1923, Thomas and Jean had moved down to Thomas’s home town, Lancaster, where they settled and had two sons. Jean was born on 20 March 1895, and died in about August 1963 in Lancaster. Thomas died on 26th February 1970 in Lancaster.’