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Elizabeth 'Betty' Margaret MacLennan (1925-2009)                                                       

First wife of Henry Austin Lane - Generation 1


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Elizabeth was the second of three children born to her parents in Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, a town and royal burgh in the Scottish Highlands located 581 miles (935 kilometers) north west of London. At this time, the boom years of the Second Industrial Revolution (1760-1914) were over and Scotland was recovering from the social and financial devastation caused by World War I (1914-1918).


Aged 20 years at the outbreak of this conflict, her father served with the 7th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, as a Private from 10 May 1915 to 15 June 1920. Having survived the conflict, he married her mother, the daughter of a policeman, 12 months after his demobilisation.


This conflict started on 4 August 1914 and ended with the armistice called for by Germany at 11:00 am on 11 November 1918. It decimated a generation of the world’s youngest men. Most directly affected were those families' whose male relatives aged between 18 and 41 years were compelled to fight through both voluntary and compulsory enlistment.


When this war broke out it was generally believed that ‘it will be over by Christmas’, however, it was finally won by the British and French allies through a long, arduous and expensive trial of strength with 6.7 million civilian and 9.7 million military casualties. The entry of fresh troops from the United States of America (U.S.A.) in 1917 was crucial in securing the final victory.


At the time of her birth, Elizabeth’s father was working as a railway porter before becoming a railway engine driver, a highly respected working-class occupation in the first quarter of the twentieth century.


Her parents were devastated by the death of her elder sister Olive Valentine MacLennan from peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix at the mournfully young age of 8 years. Elizabeth who was 5 years old at this time, missed the opportunity of growing up with an older sister, and her younger sister Moira at 12 months old, is unlikely to have known her eldest sister.


Elizabeth was 14 years old at the outbreak of World War II (1939-1945) and would have endured the hardships brought by rationing (the British Government’s policy for dealing with the food and commodities shortages caused by this conflict). Keeping the ‘home fires burning’ was critical in ensuring that Britain’s fighting men had somewhere worth returning to when the war was over.


This second worldwide conflict began on 3 September 1939 as a war between Germany and the combined forces of France and Britain and eventually included most of the nations of the world before it ended on 2 September 1945. The loss of life and material destruction was the greatest of any war in history. An estimated 30 million civilians and 25 million military personnel were killed.


It was in the immediate post-war period that Elizabeth married Henry Austin Lane, who had survived this conflict as a Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) for 4 years and 11 months. Although Henry had been very much in love with Elizabeth when the couple married, he was ill-equipped for marriage so soon after his degrading wartime experience. After Elizabeth and Henry were divorced, Henry provided financial support to their child, but did not include them in his life. When all is said and done, Elizabeth moved on with her life and raised a child we are proud to know as one of our siblings.


Note: In keeping with National Genealogy Society guidelines, personal information about living ancestors has not been revealed on this website.

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