War nurse Margaret hits her centenary milestone

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A woman who nursed wounded soldiers during the Second World War has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Margaret Riordan, who was born in Stirling on October 20, 1912, moved to Sightill Road in Edinburgh in the early 1930s. She had four brothers. Robert, the eldest, fought in the RAF during the Second World War and died of injuries he sustained after a crash landing in Northern Ireland.

Robert’s grandson, Neil Riordan, Margaret’s only surviving relative, said: “He was rescued by some local people and taken back to Scotland. Then another brother, Archie, was in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, but according to family legend he kept deserting and their father had to keep going to fetch him.

“Her third brother, Malcolm, who was in the Argylls, was captured and died on the Death Railway in Burma. He got an ulcer in his leg from a bamboo thorn and it became infected. We unfortunately don’t know much about the last brother, John, and they also had a half-sister, Agnes, on their father’s side.”

Neil, who lives in Retford, Nottinghamshire, only became aware of Margaret ten years ago.

He explained: “My great-aunt Agnes lived in Glenrothes and we used to go up and visit her. One day she just asked if we knew about our other great-aunt who lived in Edinburgh and rang her up so we could speak to her. We go to visit her as often as we can.”

Margaret, who worked at the Western General, helped to nurse wounded soldiers from the Royal Artillery anti-aircraft batteries.

After the fighting ended, she began working in private nursing care, providing support to elderly people.

Neil said: “She was always very independent, she kept driving well into her 80s. She never married but she did have relationships – in fact, last time we went to see her she mentioned a boyfriend she’d had many years ago, though we didn’t get much out of her about him.

“During the 60s and 70s, at the very height of the Cold War, she decided she wanted to go travelling and went to Russia, East Germany, France and Israel. Typically, she wanted to go by herself.

“When she arrived in Russia she got lost and a young man came to her aid. They became friends and she ended up staying with him and his family.”

Margaret enjoyed scenery closer to home and climbed mountains in her youth.

Alice Nyadundu, acting manager at Camilla House Nursing Home in the Grange, said: “She’s a fantastic lady, always very cheerful and happy.”

Margaret received a greeting from the Queen to mark her centenary, along with a cake from Greggs.