Milton Birtwistle

It was just before 1 p.m. on October 1914 when the Rohilla cleared Leith Docks. Course was set to take her down the Firth of Forth to the North Sea.

The silhouette of the Forth Bridge faded into the distance but its image was preserved for many of the servicemen who passed through the port of Leith by an enterprising photographer, who had a painting of the bridge on the wall of his studio.

Milton Birtwistle had his photograph taken against this background to send home to his wife Sarah and young son Gordon at 19, Clifford Street. Milton’s keen interest and long service had brought him the rank of Corporal in the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade and he too, like Corporal Daly, was in frequent demand for the treatment of minor complaints. He also nursed patients through the dreaded crisis stage of pneumonia and had a reputation for the neatness of his bandaging.

All through their working lives Milton and Sarah had been weavers; even though wages were high and there had always been equal pay in the cotton trade, most families found they needed two wages. They left home at six o'clock in the morning and did not get back until six in the evening, at mid – day on Saturday. After Gordon was born, he was carried to a neighbour’s house, to be “minded”, and collected on the way home.

The family were members of the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Station Road.

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Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981