Varied life of missionary famliy recounted to church guild

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Personal experiences of growing up in pre-war China were the subject of the talk given at the latest meeting of St Andrew’s Church Guild in Kirriemuir.

The meeting was conducted by Ruth Fraser with the reading by Sheona Smith, after which Ruth welcomed member Dawn Robertson, who gave a fascinating account of her experiences as the daughter of a missionary and teacher in Mukden, Manchuria, just before the Second World War and her long journey home.

Her talk was beautifully illustrated by maps and photographs shown by her grandson, Callum Batchelor.

When Manchuria was invaded by the Japanese, the Shinto religion was insisted upon and the school had to be sold. Her father, Alexander Webster, continued to do missionary work there until the Church of Scotland recalled their people and the family travelled to Canada via Japan.

Dawn and her family stayed in California for a time before settling in Vancouver where her father had to accept a poorly paid job. Things were hard and return home was not possible because of the Atlantic submarine threat. After Japan entered the war Vancouver was also subject to rationing and blackouts. Dawn’s father eventually found a better paid job in munitions, using his mathematical skills and finally they were allowed to return home. The journey, however was not pleasant, as they travelled in a frozen lamb carrier converted to a troop ship which took 13 days during which they were advised to sleep in their clothes wearing life jackets. After a 14,500 mile journey from China they returned to Aberdeen after many adventures for a young girl. Dawn’s father continued to do missionary work in Livingstonia in Africa before returning to Manchuria but was forced to leave and returned to Africa to continue his work there.

Freda Kerr thanked Dawn for her wonderful talk and Callum for his help.