Some women drove ambulances in WW1; some taught in schools; some designed golf courses; some lectured in car mechanics. Some ran a dance band. The following paragraph is a brief summary of the life of Miss Chalmers, who did all of these and wrote a series of ten lively articles for The Courier & Advertiser between 7th and 23rd September 1976. These can be found in the Dundee Local Studies Library.
Daughter of Commodore J.A.S. Chalmers, Dorothy was born in Broughty Ferry, her mother having braved the sea passage from Rotterdam just in time for the birth. The family lived in Duntrune Terrace, though her father was often away at sea and her brother, nine years older than herself, was at boarding school. She was a tomboy as a child, playing football and cricket with her all-boy pals and golf from the age of eight, encouraged by her father. She attended Dundee High School and Lowther College boarding school in North Wales, going on to take a 3-month course in car mechanics in Glasgow.
As soon as she was 18 she went to France to drive ambulances for the Red Cross in WWI. She’d wanted to be a dispatch rider, but this job was not open to females.
She returned to teach at Lowther College for ten years. While there she designed golf courses, one for the College and one for the local area. She was an accomplished golfer, and later in life twice won the Caird Park championship.
In WWII Miss Chalmers served as a sergeant major in the ATS, lecturing in car mechanics – and running a dance band in her time off. She described her experience in WWII as “cushy” compared to the adventures of WWI. After the war, back in Dundee the family were struggling to get by. They rented out their house, and Miss Chalmers took what work she could find, until finally she was offered a job teaching first in Lincraig Nursery and then (four years later) in Mid Craigie Primary. She was there for 18 years until she retired in 1976. She died suddenly at home in Dens Road.