Monday, 26 December 2011

Rubbish Christmas Presents #1 - The Inaccurate DVD Boxed Set

Today we present the first (and probably only) entry in a series of Christmas presents you might have received but possibly didn't want (for whatever reason). (We didn't get this, or buy it, but we did spot it and choked at the thought of spending eight quid on it!)

We're sure the budget for this DVD boxed set was tight, but even with the possibility of there being not much money to spend on the design, you'd think that a DVD about the famous aircraft carrier Ark Royal might actually feature an aircraft carrier?

Not pictured: any aircraft at all.
Well, readers? Can you beat this? Did you get anything more rubbish than this? Let us know!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

December has proved to be a quiet month on the blog, as family and work commitments have rather caught up with us.

We're going to take a short break until the New Year - we'll try and bring you some updates in the meantime, but we'll be working "part time" on the blog until then.

In the meantime, we'd like to wish all our readers and members of the Scottish Military Research Group a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

As a final Christmas gift to you, we present our final "object of the week" for December.

This card was sent home by A B Armstrong, to an M Armstrong of Glasgow. It's probably not a Christmas card, more of a Happy New Year card, but we thought it was of interest and fitting for the season.

If anyone has more information on A B Armstrong, who served with the Scottish Rifles as part of 52nd Lowland Division, we'd love to hear from you.

(Please click on the images for a closer look)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Reaction has been mixed amongst veterans but most objections seem to focus on the fact that TV crews will be there and that the archaeologists will be looking to uncover hidden secrets to make for exciting programmes rather than being there for serious study.

As I read it there is no hidden agenda, no looking for dirty secrets, but something a lot more simple. The Falklands are one of the few places on the planet where a fairly large-scale conventional conflict took place and in fairly recent history. It was fought over ground where there hadn't been a war before, and hasn't been one since. Dr Tony Pollard has made the Battlefield Archaeology Centre’s case in the Scotland-on-Sunday article mentioned above which I'll quote here:  

“I believe the Falklands have the potential to be an important laboratory for the practice of battlefield archaeology.

“It was fought in the late 20th century, but with mid 20th century technology and will possibly be the last conventional war that the British army will ever fight. 

“If done properly, a project there could tell us a whole lot about how the archaeological record compares with the many accounts we have. 

“Because of its isolated location the remains on the Falkland Islands are incredibly well preserved. That, in conjunction with the fact that the combatants, in many cases, are still with us gives an ideal opportunity to complete a project looking at the archaeology, the history and the anthropology.”

Other objections point to it only being thirty years since the war. However, people are happy to excavate Second World War battlefields and air-crash sites and that is only seventy years ago. Many of the reasons for not excavating the Falklands are valid for WW2 too but where are the objections in those cases? Just when does it become acceptable? Is 1968 Vietnam too soon or how about 1950's Malaya or Korea?  

Personally I don't see there being a problem. If the excavations can help with our understanding of the Falklands Conflict, where many Scots served and several died; and also help improve future fieldwork undertaken by the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology on other less contentious battlefields, then it should surely be seen as a good thing.  

(Text by Adam Brown)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Scotland on the Front Line

We've received advance notice of an upcoming publication from the History Press which we think will be of interest to readers of this blog. We'll hopefully have a review of the book in the New Year, in the meantime here's the information we have so far.

Scotland on the Front Line by Chris Brown

To be released February 2012 at £14.99
Paperback original, ISBN: 9780752464787

The only title to trace Scotland’s contribution to the Second World War through unpublished photographs

Ever since the war ended, and increasingly over the past forty years or so, there has been something of a tendency to see the 1939–45 war as the triumph of the men of the English army,  or at least in those places where there is no clear distinction between the terms ‘British’ and ‘English’.

Traditionally Scotland has made a contribution to Britain’s wars well out of proportion to her population and her military achievements are recognised throughout the world. 

‘Scotland at War’ provides an outline of Scotland’s war effort drawing on extensive photographic evidence from commercial, state and personal collections, looking beyond the experience of individual regiments to provide a wider picture of the experience of the Scottish soldier, sailor and airman in the struggles against Germany, Japan and Italy.  

· Previously unpublished photographs pay tribute to Scottish servicemen and women
· Over 50,000 Scots servicemen lost their lives during the Second World War
· A unique record that should be of interest to any military historian inside or outside of Scotland

Chris Brown is a noted Scottish military historian. He has designed and taught numerous War Studies and War Theory courses, including at Edinburgh University. He is author of many books including: Bannockburn 1314, Robert the Bruce: A Life Chronicled and Scottish Battlefields.

Object of the Week - 14th December 2011

We're a little late with this week's object. Please accept our apologies!

Today's item, like last weeks, comes from one of Scotland military museums, in this case the museum of the Royal Highland Fusiliers in Glasgow. We've blogged about this museum before, and it's well worth a visit. This is just one of the many fascinating articles which can be found there.

This is a small statuette of a soldier in desert uniform from the Second World War, and was made to commemorate the merging of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Highland Light Infantry.

The inscription is well worth reproducing here:


On 15th May 1948, the 2nd Battalion The Highland Light Infantry (Old 74th Highlanders) was, by His Majesty's Command, amalgamated with the 1st Battalion The Highland Light Infantry (Old 71st Highlanders) as the 1st Battalion The Highland Light Infantry (71st and 74th).

This statuette, made from certain silver articles the property of the Officer's Mess of the 2nd Battalion The Highland Light Infantry, is dedicated to the undying memory of that Unit, and in recognition of its unflinching courage and indomitable spirit and devotion to duty, displayed on so many fields of battle and elsewhere throughout its long and glorious history.

It represents a soldier in desert kit in the war of 1939 to 1945 during which the Battalion by its gallant deeds maintained the best traditions of the past.

"At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them."

(Please click on the image to see this wonderful statuette in greater detail)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Object of the Week - 5th December 2011

Every week this month until Christmas we will showcase an interesting or unusual item from either our own collections, or on display in one of Scotlands museums.

We have previously had an "object of the month" but we haven't had one for a while, so in the run up to Christmas we'll have a few.

Today's item can be found on display in the Black Watch museum at Balhousie Castle in Perth. I'm afraid the picture is not particularly great, but that should hopefully encourage you to visit the museum to get a better look!

The item we have for you today is the back door key to Spandau Prison, which held many Nazi prisoners, including Rudolf Hess. The occupying powers in Berlin took turns guarding the prisoners. Presumably at some point this included the Black Watch, and one of them perhaps accidentally walked out with this key in his pocket!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Scottish National Portrait Gallery Re-opening

It's been a long time coming, but after the successful refurbishment of the National Museum on Chambers Street earlier this year we can now look forward to another grand old Edinburgh museum, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street, re-opening this week. 

I had a look at their website to see what's happening and what is new. Hopefully old favourites like Ralph AbercrombyDavid Baird and Walter Rankin will be back on show, and a couple of exhibitions caught my eye: 

1st December 2011 − 31st October 2012

Featuring rarely-seen paintings from the Imperial War Museum, this exhibition is devoted to the art of Sir John Lavery and shows the conflict of the First World War through the eyes of a war artist.

Explore the story of how the two greatest navies in the world fought an epic battle on the North Sea. Experience Scapa Flow in the depth of winter and see the great battleships on the Firth of Forth, and the airfields, shipyards and munitions factories geared up for war.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery would like to thank the Imperial War Museum for the loan of most of the paintings in War at Sea and acknowledges gratefully the assistance of Professor David Stafford, University of Edinburgh, who first proposed the exhibition, and Angela Weight, former Keeper of Art at the Imperial War Museum, who curated it.

1st December 2011 − 31st December 2015

This dramatic exhibition considers the Jacobites - those loyal to the deposed Stuart dynasty at home and abroad. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has the most extensive and significant collection of Jacobite visual material in the world.

The term ‘Jacobite’ derives from ‘Jacobus’, the Latin form of James, and describes those who supported James VII and II, the exiled Catholic monarch of Scotland, England and Ireland, and his heirs. Jacobitism was launched as a political and ideological cause by the birth of a son to King James in 1688 and the subsequent coup d’état led by his Protestant son-in-law, William of Orange. For nearly 100 years Jacobitism was a major factor in European affairs and it was responsible for the last battles on British soil.

This fascinating display focuses on the way Jacobites presented themselves in portraiture.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Images of the Day - 25th November 2011

Today's images of the day are more snaps from my the collection belonging to my wife's grandfather.

Today's two images are unlike the others in the album - the rest are the size of postcards whereas these are much smaller. The other difference is in the location. While the others were probably taken in either Britain or on the continent, these pictures seems to be in a warmer climate. The complexion on the children, plus the tropical sun helmets all point to this.

I know that in amongst the papers we have, there were a few letters from (I believe) a cousin of the family, who I think was serving with the King's Own Scottish Borderers in (I think) Egypt. I may not have this entirely accurate - I will need to check the letters. I do remember that one of them spoke of "bagging a Turk" for the family!

Click on the images for a closer look, and any information you can add, please email us at

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Credit where credit is due

For nearly five years now the volunteers of the Scottish War Memorials Project have been going out in their spare time photographing and recording memorials all over the country. No-one asks for money for recording them and no-one has to pay to view them.  It all works very well.

Sometimes though someone takes a liberty. When you see your photographs, in fact when you see a lot of your photographs on another website and uncredited it makes your blood boil.

I’m not going to give publicity to the plagiarist who took dozens of images off our forum, mostly the hard work of one man, but what I can’t understand is why the owner of the new website thought it was OK to pass all the photographs off as his own work?

The owner of the site has been contacted and has updated one page. Hopefully he’ll make more of an effort soon and give proper credit where it is due and stop passing it all off as his own work. 

Then he may get a plug on this Blog!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Hawick's Hornshole memorial struck by vandals

From today's BBC Scotland website

Hawick's Hornshole memorial struck by vandals

Hawick horse statue 
The statue is in the heart of the town and is central to its common riding celebrations each year

Police have appealed for public help after a famous monument in the heart of Hawick was damaged by vandals.

The Hornshole memorial, which features a horse and rider, had part of its flag snapped off some time between 17:00 on Friday and 09:00 on Monday.

Lothian and Borders Police said the incident would be "difficult to comprehend" for local people.
Anyone who was in the area and saw anything suspicious has been asked to contact police.

A spokesperson said: "This monument is a major landmark and asset to the people of Hawick.

"It plays a significant and pivotal part in a number of its customs and traditions and to have it vandalised by mindless people will be difficult to comprehend for many local people.
"There will be people within the town who will know who has caused this damage and we would urge them to come forward and assist police with their enquiries."

The Battle of Hornshole, which is commemorated by the statue on Hawick's High Street, holds great historic importance for the town.

Its events are a central part of the common riding celebrations which take place every year.

In 1514 - a year after the Scottish army suffered a heavy defeat at Flodden - a party of English soldiers was camped at Hornshole, two miles from Hawick.

Youths of the town set out to meet them and defeated them, capturing their flag.

Monday, 21 November 2011

On this day in Scottish Military History - 16th Bn HLI hold Frankfurt Trench - 1916

"The Somme" by Lyn MacDonald is probably my favourite book about the First World War. I have a well thumbed copy on my bookshelves and tonight I will bring it down again and read the epilogue.

1st July 1916 overshadows every other phase of the Battle of the Somme, but the battle was not fought on one day; it officially ended with the end of Battle of the Ancre just over ninety five years ago. Amongst the Scottish troops in action during the last battle were the 51st (Highland) Division. They captured Beaumont Hamel (and a place in history) on 13th-14th November. Their bravery that day is commemorated by the magnificent bronze highlander which was unveiled by Marchal Foch in 1924.

They weren't the only Scots in action in the last phase of the Battle. The 16th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry attacked the German trenches east of Beaumont Hamel on the what was officially the last day of the Battle - 18th November 1916. The battalion reached its objectives of Munich and Frankfurt trenches but were beaten back by the Germans.

Three days later, on this day ninety-five years ago, it was realised that not all the Highland Light Infantry had retreated. Some of 'D' Company, 16th HLI still held Frankfurt Trench. They were surrounded, and lesser men would have surrendered, but the Glasgow Boys' Brigade battalion men were made of sterner stuff and held on, hoping to be relieved.

This takes me back to Lyn MacDonald's book. The story of the fight of the men of 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Glasgow), Highland Light Infantry in November 1916 is the subject of the epilogue of her book. I'm not going to go into more detail here. Nothing I could write could come close to Lyn MacDonald's moving description to the events which closed the 1916 fighting on the Somme. Instead I'd encourage you to find a copy in a shop or a library and read it.

In the mean time have a look at the Glasgow Roll of Honour which we have just published. Many of the men listed are just like the ones MacDonald describes in her book. "The shipping clerks, errand-boys, stevedores, railway porters, grocers' assistants, postmen"; the men of Glasgow who answered the call in 1914.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Grierson's take on the Cardwell Army Reforms

Earlier this year we posted an article about the Childers Army Reforms of 1881. In it we mentioned the 1873 Cardwell Reforms. 

Whilst pouring over a copy of the magnificent "Records of the Scottish Volunteer Force" By General James Grierson I noticed he had covered the subject too. It was the first time the Volunteers and regulars were linked together, so he had included it in his magnum opus. The Localisation of Depots was an important step in the reform of the British Army but is often overshadowed by the Childers Reforms eight years later.

Poor General Grierson died on his way to the front in August 1914, but his work on the Scottish Volunteers from 1859-1908 is still the definitive work on the subject over one hundred years after it was published. He sums it all up beautifully so I will use his words on the reforms:

1873 Reforms

In the year 1873 a most important step was taken in the organisation of the volunteer force, which was the beginning of their closer association Territorial organisation with the regular forces and the militia. 

By General Regulations and Instructions of July 24, 1873, there were brought into force the recommendations of the Localisation Committee of 1872. The United Kingdom was divided into seventy infantry sub-districts, each consisting of a certain area, to each of which were assigned for recruiting purposes, as a normal rule, two line battalions, two militia battalions, and the volunteers of the area. Of the line battalions, one was nominally to be stationed abroad, the other (which fed the foreign battalion in peace) at home, and two companies of each were to be permanently quartered at sub-district headquarters to form the brigade depot. The depot, the militia and volunteer battalions, and the army reserve men were constituted the "sub-district brigade," and were placed under the orders of the lieutenant-colonel commanding the sub-district brigade depot, who was charged with the training and inspection of all the infantry of the auxiliary forces.

In the North British District (as the Scottish Command was then termed) the infantry sub-districts were as follows :—

No. 55.— Counties of Orkney and Shetland, Sutherland, Caithness, Ross and Cromarty, Inverness, Nairn, and Elgin.
Depot at Fort George.
Regular Battalions—71st and 78th Foot.
Militia  -  Highland Light Infantry and Highland Rifles.
Volunteers—1st Administrative Battalion. Ross-shire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Inverness-shire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Sutherland, and 1st Administrative Battalion. Elginshire.

No. 56.—Counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Kincardine.
Depot at Aberdeen.
Regular Battalions—92nd and 93rd Foot.
Militia  - Royal Aberdeen (2nd battalion not yet formed).
Volunteers—1st Aberdeen Rifle Volunteers, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Administrative Battalions. Aberdeenshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Kincardineshire, and 1st Administrative Battalion. Banffshire.

No. 57.— Counties of Forfar, Perth and Fife.
Depot at Perth.
Regular Battalions—42nd and 79th Foot.
Militia  - Royal Perth (2nd battalion not yet formed).
Volunteers—1st Forfar Rifle Volunteers, 1st Administrative Battalion. Forfarshire, 10th Forfar
Rifle Volunteers, 1st and 2nd Administrative Battalions. Perthshire, and 1st Administrative Battalion. Fife.

No. 58.—Counties of Renfrew, Bute, Stirling, Dumbarton, Argyll, Kinross, and Clackmannan.
Depot at Stirling.
Regular Battalions—72nd and 91st Foot.
Militia  - Highland Borderers L.I., and Royal Renfrew.
Volunteers—1st, 2nd, and 3rd Administrative Battalions. Renfrewshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Stirlingshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Argyllshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Dumbartonshire, and 1st Administrative Battalion.. Clackmannanshire and Kinross-shire.

No. 59.—County of Lanark.
Depot at Hamilton.
Regular Battalions—26th and 74th Foot.
Militia  - 1st Royal Lanark (two battalions).
Volunteers—1st, 3rd, 4th, 16th, and 29th Lanark Rifle Volunteers.

No. 60.—County of Lanark.
Depot at Hamilton.
Regular Battalions—73rd and 90th Foot.
Militia  - 2nd Royal Lanark (two battalions).
Volunteers—19th, 25th, 31st, and 105th Lanark Rifle Volunteers, and
3rd Administrative Battalion. Lanarkshire.

No. 61.—Counties of Ayr, Wigtown, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries, Selkirk, and Roxburgh.
Depot at Ayr.
Regular Battalions—21st Foot (two battalions).
Militia  - Scottish Borderers, and Royal Ayr and Wigtown.
Volunteers—1st Administrative Battalion. Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, 1st and 2nd Administrative Battalions. Ayrshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Dumfries-shire, and 1st Administrative Battalion. Galloway.

No. 62.—Counties of Edinburgh, Peebles, Haddington, Berwick, and Linlithgow.
Depot at Glencorse.
Regular Battalions—1st Foot (two battalions).
Militia - Edinburgh L.I. (2nd battalion not yet formed).
Volunteers—1st and 3rd Edinburgh Rifle Volunteers, 1st Mid-Lothian Rifle Volunteers, 1st Administrative Battalion. Mid-Lothian, 1st Administrative Battalion. Berwickshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Haddingtonshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Linlithgowshire.

For the command and training of the auxiliary artillery, artillery sub-districts were similarly formed, of which there were two in Scotland, each in charge of a lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Artillery, who commanded and inspected the corps of militia and volunteer artillery and the army reserve of the artillery in his sub -district. The 1st North British Sub-district, headquarters at Edinburgh, comprised the counties of Argyll, Ayr, Berwick, Bute, Clackmannan, Dumbarton, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Fife, Haddington, Kinross, Kirkcudbright, Lanark, Linlithgow, Mid-Lothian, Peebles, Renfrew, Roxburgh, Selkirk, Stirling, and Wigtown, and the 2nd, headquarters at Aberdeen, the rest (North) of Scotland.

The mounted volunteers of Scotland were placed for command and inspection under the lieutenant-colonel and inspecting officer of the 1st Cavalry District for Auxiliary Forces, headquarters at York, and the engineer volunteers were kept under the direct command of the Commanding Royal Engineer, North British District. Thus the volunteers were for the first time brought into close organic connection with the other branches of the forces of the Crown, and in this same year a beginning was made with a scheme of mobilisation which, it must be confessed, existed at first only on paper, according to which definite duties in the defence of the country were told off to the various corps on the coast, which were formed into "local brigades" for its watching and defence, or as "detachments from corps" for the garrisoning of the fortresses.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Lost & Missing war memorials

Recent posts on the Scottish War Memorials Project have been heartening about the fate of missing war memorials and rolls of honour. Some have definitely been destroyed when a building has been demolished, and some have been thrown away in refurbishment, but as we add to the entries of memorials recorded by the project we are finding more memorials in storage and in private hands.

While some people place no value on them, it's obvious others do. People will happily hold memorials and rolls of honour for now defunct companies, churches and clubs in trust. Sometimes a new home can be found in a local museum but sometimes that is not possible and people just take them home rather than see them sit in a skip.

Even ones which we know have gone forever have sometimes been photographed. Both the St James's church and North Merchiston church in Edinburgh have been demolished but photographs of their war memorials are held by Greenside Church and St Michael's Church.

Killiecrankie School's Roll of Honour may have disappeared, and may never re-appear, but the names it listed were recorded in the local paper at the time and are still known to us today.

And hopefully in the absence of the original memorial a transcription will do.

In 1964 When St George's Church in Charlotte Square merged with St Andrew's on George Street in Edinburgh, St Andrew's was to be the home of the new congregation. The St George's war memorial was built into the fabric of the building so instead of moving it the names were inscribed onto a brass plaque and hung in the renamed St Andrew's and St George's. At St George's in Glasgow City Centre the names are listed on a contemporary glass plate. The original memorial has gone into storage but the most important thing on it, the names, are at least still on public display.

So while Killiecrankie may never get back its original Roll perhaps they can still create a new one with the names of those who never returned, and fulfil the hope of the people of Killiecrankie of 1922 that the names would not be forgotten.

p.s. Another Killiecrankie Roll survives from 1915 which lists those from Blair Atholl and Killiecrankie serving in the Forces.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

In Memoriam 2014 and the SmartWater Foundation

Thanks to Paul Goodwin for passing on this news about the In Memoriam 2014 project and the SmartWater Foundation

A project has been launched to combat the theft of metal elements from war memorials and to support their preservation to ensure that the names of those who died are remembered by future generations.

War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation are asking war memorial custodians to register for the In Memoriam 2014 project which is also making SmartWater’s state of the art crime prevention liquid available free of charge to mark all war memorials in the UK.

SmartWater is a forensic solution which contains a unique chemical code and is only visible under ultraviolet (UV) light. Once applied to a war memorial the liquid is virtually impossible to remove and can withstand burning or melting making it harder for criminals to dispose of stolen war memorials.

Police forces across the UK are actively searching for traces of SmartWater as a means of positively identifying stolen property and linking criminals back to specific crime scenes. More and more scrap metal dealers are also checking for traces of SmartWater and refusing to handle any items marked with the liquid.

Sir Keith Povey, SmartWater Foundation Chairman, stated "As the centenary of World War I approaches, In Memoriam 2014 encourages communities to reconnect with their local war memorials and remember the sacrifice that so many people made for their country. It is an exciting prospect for the SmartWater Foundation to be a partner with the War Memorials Trust in this project. The Foundation’s main role will be to offer greater protection for war memorials in the United Kingdom by offering SmartWater which is a proven crime deterrent, free of charge. I hope that people embrace what this project offers and take an interest in locating and preserving these symbols of our commemoration."

Meg Hillier MP Hackney South and Shoreditch and War Memorials Trust Trustee said "This project is an opportunity to protect war memorials in communities across the UK. War Memorials Trust seeks to both protect and conserve this unique part of our national heritage and so I am delighted to be supporting this project. I encourage people to take an active interest in the project and ensure the custodians of your local war memorials are taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity to protect your local war memorial free of charge."

Notes to editors
1. War Memorials Trust is an independent registered charity. Established in 1997 due to concerns about neglect and vandalism, it works to protect and conserve war memorials. It provides advice, information and administers grants schemes that assist the repair and conservation of war memorials across the UK. As a charity the Trust relies on voluntary contributions to undertake its work. Supporters include annual and life members, donors, charitable trusts and corporate contributors. Further details of the Trust can be found at

2. The SmartWater Foundation, the charitable arm of SmartWater Technology Ltd, are providing the resources for the In Memoriam 2014 project and for SmartWater liquid to be offered free of charge to war memorial custodians. SmartWater Technology Ltd is a commercial company which provides crime reduction strategies. The company works closely with the police and other crime reduction agencies. Their clients include British Airways, Comet, Group 4 Securicor, HSBC, National Grid, Network Rail, Royal Mail and Thames Water. Further details about SmartWater Technology Ltd can be found at

3. SmartWater is a forensic solution which contains a unique chemical code and is only visible under ultraviolet (UV) light. Once applied to a war memorial the liquid is virtually impossible to remove and can withstand burning or melting making it harder for criminals to dispose of stolen war memorials. Police forces across the UK are actively searching for traces of SmartWater as a means of positively identifying stolen property and linking criminals back to specific crime scenes. More and more scrap metal dealers are also checking for traces of SmartWater and refusing to handle any items marked with the liquid. Further information about SmartWater liquid can be found at

4. In Memoriam 2014 is a joint project between War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation. Further information about the project can be found at

5. War Memorials Trust has approximately 150 Regional Volunteers, members of the charity who act as local contacts. They raise awareness of the charity and also alert the charity to local war memorial issues.

6. War Memorials Trust provides grants that can assist repair and conservation of war memorials. Contact the Conservation Team to discuss eligibility on 020 7233 7356 / 0300 123 0764 or or download an ‘Expression of interest form’ from

7. War Memorials Trust provides a free advisory service to anyone with a war memorial enquiry. Specialist Conservation Officers are available on 020 7233 7356 / 0300 123 0764 or

8. Details of grants made can be viewed on the Trust’s Grants Showcase You can search by area, scheme, value and type of work.

9. Photographs and images of war memorials, and grant cases, may be available from the Trust. If images are on the Showcase then we should be able to provide digital versions. However, we are not a photo library and, whilst endeavouring to provide images, cannot guarantee to be able to provide them as many of the images sent to the Trust are not accompanied by a copyright licence.

10. War Memorials Trust has had a membership since around 2,200. Annual members pay £20 per annum with lifetime members contributing £100. Joint memberships are available and the charity has a gift membership scheme for those who would like to give the gift of membership to a family member or friend.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Remembrance 2011

Over the last few days there have been many Remembrance services across Scotland. Some today, on Remembrance Sunday; others two days ago on the anniversary of Armistice day on 11th November.

Whatever the date the one thing all ceremonies had in common is that at 11:00 a.m. those assembled paused for two minutes in silence. People might remember those listed on the memorial they were standing next to. Perhaps they may have remembered others they have known personally, or through family stories, who were not on the memorial but who died on active service. They may have thought of the men of the 51st (Highland) Division who captured German-held Beaumont Hamel on this day ninety five years ago. In the middle of a public ceremony each will have had their own very private thoughts.

When you read this all Remembrance services will be over for 2011. Why don't you tell us what you did this year to remember?

On this day in Scottish Military History - The birth of John Moore - 1761

Today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Glaswegian general and army reformer Sir John Moore. You'd be hard pressed to find many modern Glasgow residents who have heard of him. Even if they knew of his statue in George Square they would probably not know what he is famous for.

We've already covered his life in one of our Who's who articles so you can read that to find out more about him.

As we remember the dead of more recent wars on this remembrance Sunday, spare a thought for the Scotsmen lost fighting Napoleon's tyranny and the brave Sir John Moore, killed in action 16th January 1809.

Friday, 11 November 2011

John Binn? - Behind the name

For the last few days we have been giving you some information on a few servicemen listed on Scottish war memorials. Today's name is slightly different because there are no details to give. There is a mystery though.

At St. Madoes in Perthshire there is one name listed which can't be identified.

Trooper John Binn, Royal Scots Greys is the second man listed on the red sandstone Celtic Cross in the village; despite the best efforts of Derek Robertson of Arbroath, and Mark Duffy of Blairgowrie, they can't identify him.

They have tried the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Scottish National War Memorial databases but to no avail. This could possibly mean one of two things.

1. He was a non-commemoration, or
2. He used an alias

The House of the Binns was the home of Tam Dayell who raised the Scots Greys in 1681 and there is a Binn Farm near St Madoes, so either of them could perhaps account for use of Binn if it is an alias.

He's not listed on the Royals Scots Greys memorial in Edinburgh either so maybe he died after the war and that is why his not commemorated?

Hopefully at St Madoes today, or on Sunday when they have their Remembrance Day service there will be someone there who knows who Trooper John Binn was.

Missing Dumfries War Memorial

Thanks to Paul Goodwin for another Blog article today. Paul found references to a memorial unveiling in Dumfries in 1922 but has not been able to trace the memorial, or even its original location. I'll copy Paul's words from the Scottish War Memorial Project.

Dumfries and Maxwelltown Painters

Location: Original location not confirmed but believed to be in the main bar of the Globe Inn, 56 High Street, Dumfries at OS Map Ref NX 972 759. Its current location is unknown.

The unveiling of this memorial was reported in the Dumfries and Galloway Standard and Advertiser of 26th April 1922 and in another local paper of the same date. In one paper it is reported that the memorial is in the Hall of the Globe Inn and in the other that it is in the Globe Hotel Hall. Over a hundred men from Dumfries and Maxwelltown Painters Trade had served in the war so we can suppose that the number of men at the unveiling would have been close to, or even exceeded 100. There are currently two Globe Inns in Dumfries, one is a small bar in Maxwelltown which has never had a hall and is large enough for only 20 – 30 people with no sign of any memorial so we can discount that. Local trades directories, enquiries at the Ewart Library and the local Family History Society show no other Globe Hotels or Inns at the period so that leaves only the one on the High Street.

The Globe Inn (High Street) has never had a separate hall, nor is there any sign of the memorial there currently. The Inn has been in the ownership of the same family since the 1930s and they have no knowledge of the memorial, nor have any major changes or alterations been made in their ownership, it is a very historical building. It is difficult to understand that the memorial might have been removed within just 10 or so years of its unveiling. All of the rooms are quite small and could not relate to the hall described except for one large (long) room which is now used as the main bar.

The newspaper reports the position as occupying a prominent position in the centre of the end wall of the room, facing the door. If this refers to the main bar then this is exactly where the doors are to the Ladies and Gentlemens Toilets. So that is the probable location, but what happened to it and when?

Transcription from Dumfries and Galloway Standard and Advertiser dated 26 April 1922.

Dumfries Painters Memorial

Roll of Honour Unveiled

An interesting gathering was held in the Globe Hotel Hall, Dumfries on Saturday evening, when a memorial to members of the painters’ craft belonging to Dumfries and Maxwelltown, who fell in the great war was unveiled with appropriate ceremony. The memorial, a symbolical figure of “painting” occupies a prominent position in the centre of the end wall of the room, facing the door. It is the work of Mr George Graham, one of the veteran members of the craft in the town, and of his son, Mr Claude Graham, who, unfortunately, was taken ill and died while the work was in progress. The painting has a representation of a female figure holding a palette in her right hand, while with the left she points to the inscription which occupies the centre of the upper part of the picture. The inscription is as follows: “In commemoration of those belonging to the painting trade in Dumfries and Maxwelltown who made the supreme sacrifice during the great war.” At the bottom left hand corner there is a shiedl with the painters’ arms and the motto, “Amor et Obedientia.” An ornamental border with the rose, thistle and shamrock intertwined encloses the symbols, and the list of
which are as follows: Second-Lieutenant J. M. Haining,, K.O.S.B.; Sergeant J. Hewitson, A. and S.H.; Corporal R. Constantine, H.L.I.; Lance-Corporal A. McGeorge, K.O.S.B.; Private A. McKenzie, K.O.S.B.; Private J. Bryden, K.O.S.B.; Private Albert Law, K.O.S.B.; Private J Coyle, K.O.S.B.; Private D. Bouskill, K.O.S.B.; Private R. Brown, K.O.S.B.; Sergeant William Brown, R.G.A.; Private William Neisham, R.E.; Private J. Nelson, S.R.; Private A. Jamieson, B.W.; Private J. McAdam, Con. R.; Private J. Graham, H.L.I.; Private Alexander McAdam, R.E.; Private R. Simm, R.S.; Gunner J. Bell, R.G.A.; Private Alexander Harrison, K.O.S.B.; Private Robert Jackson, K.O.S.B.

The memorial is enclosed in a massive oak frame, this part of the work having been executed by the late Mr D. Constantine.

(transcription ends)

In the article, there follows a description of the ceremony which mentions a welcome home ceremony for members of the craft which had been held in the same hall two years previously. Also mentioned that over 100 members of the trade had gone to fight and 21 had “made the supreme sacrifice”. The memorial was unveiled by the president, Mr Wilson who accepted it into their safe custody.

Preparing a Remembrance Day talk

Paul Goodwin has written today's Blog article where he shares his thoughts about giving a talk on Remembrance at this time of year.

In 2008 I was privileged to be given the opportunity to speak at a school assembly for Remembrance Day. This would be a new experience for me and had to be done correctly. I would have about fifteen minutes and would be watched by the pupils and teachers, the local minister and the head teacher (my boss).

I started with a short video clip of a reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’, it sounds better in a Scots accent and mine is English. I followed this with a few words on the origin of war memorials and a slide of our local claim to fame, the oldest civic memorial in Scotland, the Crimean memorial at Balmaclellan which is in the school catchment area. I then gave a few examples of different types of memorials with a slide of each, all from the local area of course so that they would be known to the audience.

With these words I continued “I tried to think how best to bring a sense of presence to these memorials so I decided to focus on one man , and to make it straightforward, I chose the first man listed on the nearest memorial (the one on Main Street, Dalry).” I will leave the story of Robert James Clark for a future blog but I showed slides of his name on the memorial, the man himself, his house and told the story of how he lived and died. I held up examples of the medals and his cap badge.

At about this time I realised that I could not hear anything so wondered if I was going deaf! I looked up and saw everyone watching in silence, I had never seen the pupils that quiet before. Ok, I had given them the intro, grabbed their attention by showing them something familiar and turned a name on a piece of granite into a face on the screen in front of them. Now for the sucker punch!

If he had lived then his great grandchildren would probably be here now as pupils of this school, perhaps sitting on those two empty chairs behind you.” They all turned around and looked at two empty chairs I had placed at the back of the room and one or two gasped. I hoped that I had now turned a war so long ago into a real event for them and, at least for some, given them the understanding that the loss of those men continues to affect us all. (As an aside, that use of the empty chairs is still occasionally mentioned by pupils two and a half years later so it obviously left an impact).

Behind every name on every memorial is a story like this one, of a real person, a real family and a real loss.” That’s it, job done; now time to wrap up with a few words to plug the Scottish War Memorials Project and the War Memorials Trust.

(If anyone would like a copy of the script I used that day, just send a PM to ‘spoons’ at the Scottish War Graves Project.) And now I will end as I did on that day…………

The next time you pass a war memorial, please STOP………… and read a name…………. and pause for thought.”

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Midlothian Fallen - Behind the names

We have been running a short series of behind the names on the Blog, but Ken Bogle of Midlothian Libraries has delved into a few of the names on some Midlothian war memorials and today we are using the article he contributed to yesterday’s Edinburgh Evening News

A roll call of local heroes

Published on Wednesday 9 November 2011 13:46

MORNING had dawned over France, the skies were bright and clear, the air crisp and fresh. A perfect day, perhaps, if not for the bloody nightmare of war.

Young 2nd Lt Ian Gilmour Cameron from Loanhead had slipped into the front seat of the small, single engine two-seater biplane. It was just after 8am, the Battle of the Somme was nearing its conclusion but today, November 9, 1916 – precisely 95 years ago – the teenager’s mission for the Royal Flying Corps was to soar into the skies over northern France, bombs loaded on board to pound the Germans below.

Higher the little plane soared. Lt Cameron – just 19-years-old, the handsome son of a well-respected doctor, a strapping rugby player, winning shot putter and enthusiastic Sandhurst officer – leaned over the open cockpit of the BE2c Royal Flying Corps aircraft number 2506, eyes peeled for signs of the enemy.

Whether he and the pilot sitting behind him were aware they had company, only they ever knew.

What is certain is that Manfred Von Richthofen, the Red Baron, Germany’s “ace of aces” did not go on to earn his reputation for being deadly accurate without good cause – with typical stealth and fatal precision, he’d fly his distinctive red biplane, adorned with its black Iron Cross, above and behind his unsuspecting prey, often with the sun behind him, sneaking up until close enough to blast them from the skies.

By the end of his war, the results of the fighter ace’s prowess in the skies over France would lie shattered on the ground below in the shape of 80 planes downed by his steely eye and rapid reflexes. Among the debris, the corpses of brave allied airmen, their bodies later committed to lie forever on foreign soil.

And on this crisp November morning in the blue skies of northern France, 1916, it would be 2nd Lt Cameron’s turn.

His plane went hurtling down around 10.30am, according to the few records that remain of the fateful incident.

Lt Cameron, pictured not long before he left for France dressed in spats, a jaunty top hat and with a cheeky lopsided grin, who’d won a rugby blue and was school shot put champion, had been shot down.

With his fellow officer’s lifeless body slumped behind him and no doubt pursued by the Red Baron himself, pilot Cameron somehow battled to land the biplane. It’s thought he survived but only to end up caught by his German foes and taken prisoner.

For the Red Baron, flying proud in his distinctive Albatros D11 491/16, it was just another scalp, his eighth in what would be a long and bloody career.

Later, he’d order a silversmith in Berlin to make a cup engraved with the date and details of his Scottish victim and pin the plane’s number – 2506 – alongside other war trophies on the walls of his bedroom in his parent’s home in East Prussia, a ghoulish shrine to his killing prowess.

As for 2nd Lt Cameron, his parents, the widely respected Dr James Cameron and wife Mary, received the dreadful news at their home in Hawthorn Gardens, Loanhead.

Today, his remains lie in a Commonwealth War Grave at Achiet-le-Grand cemetery in the Pas de Calais, a final resting place for 1526 fellow fighting men.

Closer to home, his name is one of 91 inscribed in stone at the entrance to Loanhead Memorial Park. Highly visible, the memorial graces the park’s gateway as a constant reminder to visitors of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

But while the memorial bearing the name of the Red Baron’s victim is strikingly obvious, until now only a few to pass under it could surely know who Ian G Cameron really was. Or, indeed, any of the no doubt equally moving and tragic stories behind the names of the fallen etched into stone, copper and in stained glass war memorials scattered around Midlothian.

However, as the clock ticks down to the poignant centenary in 2014, marking the start of the “war to end all wars”, Midlothian Council has embarked on an ambitious challenge to track down as many of the war memorials within its modern boundaries as possible and bring them vividly to life by unmasking the people and the stories behind the names.

Already, researchers from the council’s Local Studies office have unearthed fascinating and long-lost details – some thrilling and dramatic, like the Red Baron’s encounter with Ian Cameron, others deeply moving in their simplicity, such as the brief but poignant story behind Andrew Watson of the Royal Scots, whose name also takes its place on Loanhead park’s memorial. “He was just an ordinary young man of his time,” says Ken Bogle, Midlothian’s local studies officer and archivist. “He worked in the local paper mill and was a committed Christian, who sang in his church choir and taught Sunday school.

“He joined the Royal Scots and went to Gallipoli in 1915 where he lasted less than two weeks. His body was never found. Like thousands of others, he never stood a chance.”

The briefest of details of Andrew’s fate emerged in a postcard found by a collector in Stirlingshire and forwarded to Ken to help with his research.

That, and the picture of the young man, posing in his Sunday best, a flower in his buttonhole, his dark hair carefully parted and a solemn look on his face – perhaps etched with concern for the hell that lay before him – help paint a vivid picture of the real people whose lives were sacrificed in the name of freedom.

As does the heartrending story behind two names that appear one after the other on Dalkeith’s war memorial.

George and Mary Allan of the town’s High Street sent three of their sons to war.

Robert was severely wounded in action. As for Tom and Willie, news of Willie’s death arrived in the morning post and the same evening came the telegram informing the grieving parents that Tom, too, was dead.

Likewise, the striking stained glass window that serves as a war memorial within Crichton Parish Church holds a similar story of family anguish. Brothers Charlie, John and Willie Flynn, who lived at Crichton Mains farm, were all killed.

Imagine, too, the heartbreak for the parents of Royal Scots privates David and George, and Corporal Tom Webster, brothers named together on the Glencorse war memorial.

“Stories like that are very moving to read,” says Ken. “To lose three sons would be terrible but, of course, not unique. It happened across the country.”

So far, the team has drawn up names from around 60 memorials located in the district, including one from Penicuik Co-operative Society, which was rescued from a skip and efforts made through researching historical documents, old newspapers and records to piece together at least a little background to the person behind each name.

The aim, explains Ken, is to ultimately create a Midlothian Roll of Honour.

And with some memorials now long forgotten, lost or hidden from public view in private buildings, it is hoped the public can provide vital information to help track them down and make the roll as comprehensive as possible.

One memorial known to have existed but now lost once honoured the dead at Bonnyrigg Town Hall. Another, long gone, used to grace the entrance of Dalkeith High School – no doubt listing the names of former pupils and staff who gave their lives on the field of battle.

“We’d like to find out more about the people named on the memorials, who they were, where they lived, how they died,” says Ken.

“Did they play football for a local team, what schools they went to? Maybe a photograph – we know people have stuff in the attic, it might be what we need.”

The question for some – even in this most poignant of weeks when the nation pauses to honour those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom – might be “why?”

“Of course, there is no one left alive from the First World War but it’s not really consigned to history, it’s still very much alive and very poignant,” says Ken.

“It’s the sheer scale of sacrifice and the fact that so many people were affected.

“Every family has some story or connection with the First World War, so everyone is involved in some way. It had such a huge impact.”

* Anyone with information about lost memorials should contact the Local Studies team on 0131-271 3976.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Alexander Campbell - Behind the name

If you've seen the film The Heroes of Telemark with Kirk Douglas, about the attack on the Vemork Norsk Hydro Heavy Water Plant; you'll perhaps remember that in one scene an aircraft full of British troops crashes into a Norwegian hillside. The film is based on fact and two Horsa gliders full of Airborne Royal Engineers, and one Halifax bomber tug, did crash in Norway on the night of 19-20th November 1942.

The aircraft had flown from RAF Wick as part of Operation 'Freshman' and a memorial cairn commemorates all the soldiers and airmen who died on that mission.

There were a few Scotsmen on the raid and one is listed on the Grangemouth War Memorial.

The Alexander Campbell listed on the memorial in Zetland Park is this man:

Initials: A
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers
Unit Text: 261 (Airborne) Field Park Coy.
Age: 24
Date of Death: between 19/11/1942 and 20/11/1942
Service No: 1923037
Additional information: Son of Alexander and Catherine E. Campbell, of Grangemouth, Stirlingshire.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Z. 2.

And this is what the Commonwealth War Graves Commission say about Eigans Churchyard in Stavanger

In November 1942, an attempt was made to destroy the hydroelectric power station at Vermork, in Telemark, where heavy water was produced for German atomic research. Two gliders and an aircraft engaged in the raid crashed in southern Norway. All those aboard, Royal Engineers of the 1st Airborne Division and members of the Commonwealth air forces, were either killed in the crash or died later, at the hands of their German captors. The heavy water plant was eventually destroyed by a party of six Norwegians dropped by parachute in 1943. Stavanger (Eiganes) Churchyard contains the graves of 25 servicemen who died in the raid.

Lance Corporal Campbell was one of those who "died later at the hands of their German captors". He and thirteen others had been captured and taken to Slettebø Camp, Egersund where they were all interrogated and executed. One month before on 18th October 1942, Hitler had issued his Commando Order which stated that all Allied commandos encountered by German forces in Europe and Africa should be killed immediately even if they had surrendered. Alexander Campbell was a victim of that order.

At the time the Commando-trained Engineers were buried in unmarked graves at Slettebø by the Germans but after the liberation of Norway in 1945 the bodies were exhumed and reburied in Eignes Churchyard in Stavanger.

Dunoon school pupils investigate Christmas truce death

The BBC reports on Dunoon school pupils investigating the death of a local man on Christmas Day 1914.

5th Scottish Rifles man Walter Smith was shot by a German sniper on 25th December 1914, one of the few men to be killed on a day generally observed as a truce on the Western Front.

More of the story can be found on the BBC website

Bargrennan War Memorial Rededication

Thanks to Paul Goodwin for this information about Bargrennan War Memorial

There is to be a service to re-dedicate the Bargrennan memorial in its new location in the grounds of Bargrennan church on Friday 11th November at 10:45. I understand that soup and sandwiches are to be provided nearby. If anyone is able to attend in this remote location (North of Newton Stewart) then I am sure they will be made very welcome.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Clement Agnew - Behind the name

The first name on the 1939-1945 names on the Armadale War Memorial is Clement Agnew. There is no rank or unit on the memorial but he is easy to find on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. He was a tragically young sixteen years old when he died. Surprisingly the boy from deepest West Lothian was a volunteer in the Royal Navy.

Initials: C W
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Boy 1st Class
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
Unit Text: H.M.S. Royal Oak
Age: 16
Date of Death: 14/10/1939
Service No: P/JX 159143
Additional information: Son of Clement and Susan Agnew, of Armadale, West Lothian.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 34, Column 1.

Boy Agnew was lost on the 'Royal Oak' when it was torpedoed in Scapa Flow by U-9. 833 other sailors were lost that night many of them teenage ratings like Clement Agnew. The tragedy was that the 'Royal Oak' had returned to Scapa Flow from the North Atlantic after a patrol which showed she was too old for active service. When she was sunk she was actually of little threat to the German Navy.

Her loss was a bitter blow to Britain and a propaganda coup for Germany. It also brought home the war to a small Lothians town.

Monday, 7 November 2011

David Ramsay - Behind the Name

Kirriemuir Parish Church's Second World War memorial lists their war dead by unit and name but there is no other information. One of the names listed is D. Ramsay of the Black Watch.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment/Service: Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Unit Text: 2nd Bn.
Age: 24
Date of Death: 04/08/1944
Service No: 2755969
Additional information: Son of Isabella Anderson Dickson, of Kirriemuir, Angus.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 13. H. 24.

In August 1944 2nd Battalion Black Watch was part of 14th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Indian Infantry Division also known as Special Force or more commonly The Chindits.

Orde Wingate's formation was conceived as an airborne large-scale raiding force which would be sent behind Japanese lines in force to disrupt communications and supply lines.

The life expectancy for a Chindit was not great. When in the field they suffered a lack of nearly all supplies and had very little respite from the Japanese, the jungle and the weather.

By the time Lance Corporal Ramsay died Orde Wingate was already dead. The man who had conceived of and led the Chindits was gone. Control of them then passed to the American commander of the Chinese forces in the area, General Stilwell. Stillwell had no real idea of what the Chindits were or were not capable of, and threw the lightly armed raiders into costly attacks on well defended Japanese-held towns.

The Chindits suffered horrendous casualties in the late summer of 1944 and were soon withdrawn for battle. Unfortunately it was too late for David Ramsay of Kirriemuir.

I'll be honest and admit that I don't have a great knowledge of the Chindits. My interest has always been centred more on the Western Europe campaign, and the Far East campaigns have always been a little bit of a mystery to me. A new book published recently may help to shed some light on that campaign.

"War in the Wilderness: The Chindits in Burma 1943-1944" by Tony Redding is an incredibly comprehensive account of the Chindit campaigns, drawing on interview of fifty veterans of the campaign. It is a remarkably detailed book, well illustrated and offering a new insight into a campaign which I, and possibly many others, possessed only scant knowledge of.

For those wishing to know more about this fascinating campaign, this book would be a valuable starting point.

Author Tony Redding and Chindit veteran John Hutchings were interviewed for BBC Radio 4's Today programme - you can hear that interview here.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Flight Engineer John Kinnear - Behind the name

In the Fife town of Newport-on-Tay the war memorial sits at the side of the Firth. The Second World War names are on two bronze panels flanking the mercat cross memorial erected after the First World War. The names are listed but there are no ranks or units to give any clues as to how they died.

One of the names is John Kinnear. A search on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database comes up with this man:

Initials: J
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Sergeant (Flt. Engr.)
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force
Unit Text: 617 Sqdn.
Age: 21
Date of Death: 17/05/1943
Service No: 635123
Additional information: Son of William and Helen Kinnear, of East Newport, Fife.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 21. D. 14.

Note his squadron and date of death. Flight Sergeant Kinnear was a Dambuster. He was lost when his Lancaster AJ-B 'Baker' flew into a pylon before reaching the target.

Nothing at the Fife memorial indicates that one of the men listed had been picked as the cream of the RAF to fly on one of the most difficult and daring air raids in history.

Sadly he was one of the fifty three men lost that night. Was his death worth it? The debate still continues to this day but nearly seventy years later he is still remembered in Newport.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Seaman James Anderson - Behind the Name

We have not posted a ‘Behind the name’ post for a while so in the week leading up to Remembrance Day we are going to pick a few names from Scottish war memorials to highlight. If you happen to be standing in front of one of these names next Friday (11th) or Sunday (13th) then you will know a little bit more about why that person is commemorated.

The small village of Thrumster in Caithness on the Pentland Firth has an obelisk for a war memorial. After the First World War it was erected as an estate memorial but by the time it had come to add the Second World War names it was for the community.

The first name on the list of Second World War names is the only sailor listed. He is Seaman J Anderson R.N.V.R.

He is this man.

Initials: J
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Seaman
Regiment/Service: Royal Naval Reserve
Unit Text: H.M.S. Jervis Bay
Age: 27
Date of Death: 05/11/1940
Service No: C/X 10533
Additional information: Son of Donald Anderson and Martha Foster Anderson (nee McKellar); husband of Ellen Anderson, of Thrumster, Caithness-shire.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 40, 1.

The ship he served and died on, on this day in November 1940 was the 'Jervis Bay'. We covered it as an 'On this Day' last year.

Seaman Anderson's ship was pulverised by the German battleship 'Admiral Scheer' to allow the convoy it was protecting to scatter and escape from the Germans. It was a costly act of self-sacrifice which earned the Captain of the 'Jervis Bay' a Victoria Cross but saved many valuable merchant ships and seamen.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Remembering Captain Samuel McKnight - Bank Messenger

Anti-capitalist protesters are currently targeting financial districts in cities around the world. In Edinburgh they are camped across from 36 St Andrew Square, the former head office of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Whilst bankers are easy targets for media and protesters it's worth considering that most people employed by the bank are ordinary folk like you and me; and that was the same almost 100 years ago.

In the run up to Remembrance Day as we start wearing our red poppies, it is maybe worth remembering that in August 1914 many bank staff were already keen volunteers in the Territorial Force in Scotland. Many more left their branches and head office departments to answer Kitchener's call to arms, and joined the ranks of the New Army when war was declared.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Archives have an item from 1918 from one of the bank's volunteers which at first glance seems nondescript; it is a simple postcard with just a few words. The significance is that it is a postcard sent from the front by a former bank messenger to his old colleagues just four weeks before he was killed in action.

One of his colleagues wanted to make sure he wasn't forgotten and saved his postcard. It was put in an envelope around the time of the official end of the war in 1919, when peace and victory parades were being organised, and filed away in a room at 36 St Andrew Square. Luckily it was found years later and passed to the bank archives.

Twenty five year old Captain Samuel McKnight of the 17th Battalion, Royal Scots was one of eighty four Royal Bank of Scotland staff killed in the Great War; and one of fifteen hundred bank workers who lost their lives between 1914 and 1918 from all the banks which now makes up the British part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. He is listed on the bronze and marble war memorial in the entrance hall of the Royal Bank of Scotland branch at 36 St Andrew Square. You can see the memorial, Captain McKnight's postcard, and the moving story behind it on the RBS Archives website:

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The City of Glasgow Roll of Honour 1914-1918

We have posted updates on our progress with the Glasgow Roll of Honour project before, and today we are proud to be able to say that this project is now complete and the full Roll can now be downloaded entirely free of charge.

Below is a short piece we have written giving further information on this Roll, which may be of interest to you. It also gives the link where the Roll can now be downloaded. It is free of charge for a digital download, and a printed copy of the Roll can be purchased for a reasonable charge.

The Scottish Military Research Group is proud to announce the release of the fully transcribed Glasgow Roll of Honour 1914-1918.

The transcription of the Glasgow Roll of Honour 1914-1918 by the Scottish Military Research Group has made a valuable historical resource available online for the first time. This will enable genealogists, military historians, social historians and local Glasgow historians to study a snapshot of Scotland's biggest city from nearly 100 years ago.

Two of our members have worked on it for several years and the transcription was only recently completed. The late Kevin O’Neill and David McNay transcribed and double checked 17,695 entries which listed the name, rank, regiment and address of the men of Glasgow who died in the war. (There are no women listed but there are actually some men who survived the war listed!). There are original copies in the Mitchell Library and City Chambers in Glasgow, but this is the first time the Roll has been made available to the general public to own. It is now available to be downloaded for free.

Although this Roll cannot be seen as a completely true reflection of Glasgow’s sacrifice in the war because of the way it was collated, it does give a very good indication of the distribution of Glaswegians through the armed forces. For example it shows that approximately 21% of the men on the Roll were serving in the Highland Light Infantry (3,726 men). Not surprising for the City’s local regiment. A further 2,234 were in the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

The number of men who joined the Service battalions of the Highland Regiments is highlighted too with large numbers serving in the Cameron Highlanders (1,032); Seaforth Highlanders (795); Black Watch (442); Gordon Highlanders (724) and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (993).

Those men who had chosen to emigrate or work abroad before 1914 are listed too with 401 men serving in the Canadian Forces, 181 in the Australians, 44 in the New Zealand Forces and 25 with the South African Forces. There are even two Newfoundland Regiment men. Newfoundland was still a British Colony in the First World War, it wasn't part of Canada until 1949, and Alexander MacDougall of 105 Elder Park Street, Govan and William Maddock of 119 New City Road both served in the blue-putteed regiment attached to the British 29th Division.

At the other end of the scale are smaller units such as the Egyptian Camel Corps with two entries and the Nyasaland Force in which one Glasgow man, Private Leonard Dumelow of 16 Dudley Drive, Hyndland died.

Not surprisingly there are a large number of sailors listed. 812 men are listed under Royal Navy, Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. Many men are listed under the land-based Royal Naval Division and eight as serving on HMS' Indefatigable' which was sunk at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
The Royal Naval Air Service, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force are also represented with a combination of 178 entries in total.

Some well known names can be found within the Roll. One officer who can be found listed under 419 St Vincent Street is a surprise entry. Professional footballer and the British Army’s first black officer Walter Tull is believed to have visited Glasgow in 1917 to speak to Rangers about signing for them once the war was over. It’s not his football club but rather a family connection which sees him listed. His brother Edward Tull-Hunter lived at the St Vincent Street address.

Visitors to the new Riverside Museum in Glasgow will no doubt have seen the display on the Glasgow Tramways Battalion which features Company Sergeant Major George Cockburn. The Roll lists his address as 53 Barloch Street, Possilpark.

Although the Roll does not list any gallantry awards, some winners of the Victoria Cross can be found on the list. One in particular is Lieutenant Colonel William Anderson VC of the Highland Light Infantry. He is listed along with his three brothers Alexander, Charles and Edward who also died. All are listed under their father's address at 18 Woodside Terrace.

It is the Scottish Military Research Group's intention that this Roll of Honour should be made available to view for free. It can be downloaded in pdf format where the names are listed alphabetically. It can also be printed for those who prefer a hardcopy book. Both the download and printed book can be found at the following website:

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Scottish Regiments in TV Programmes and Films

A few years ago I compiled this list of Scottish regiments I had seen in films and television programmes. It has been a while since I updated it so recent appearances of Scottish troops on large or small screen may not have not been noted. If anyone can add any more, or correct any mistakes please leave a comment here or on our facebook page.

Note that most entries are for highland regiments. As far as I know, no KOSB or HLI soldiers have featured in a film.

Real Regiments

Scots Guards

TV Film ‘Tumbledown’ – Robert Lawrence’s story based on his own book about his time with the Scots Guards before and during the Falklands Conflict.

TV Drama ‘The Camomile Lawn’ – Character Hector is in Scots Gds in WW2. Service Dress tunic on screen is of Grenadiers but his wife refers to the three button spacing of his tunic in another scene.

Film ‘Paratrooper’ – Harry Andrews’s Para RSM is ex-Scots Guards.

Royal Scots Greys

Film ‘Waterloo’ – Charge of the Union Brigade. See also Gordons

Royal Scots Fusiliers

TV Series - Poirot special. Chronologically the first story but not first one made. See also unknowns

Black Watch

Film ‘The Sand Pebbles’ – Extras in scenes in Shanghai Bund

TV Series ‘Strathblair’ – Son is a Black Watch Major

TV Series ‘Monarch of the Glen’ – Flashback special where one character is a Boer War period Black Watch officer.

Film ‘Gunga Din’ – Easy to identify British soldiers for the US movie goers

Film ‘Soldiers Three’ – Easy to identify British soldiers for the US movie goers

Film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ Black Watch on march behind Allenby in one scene

TV series ‘Northern Exposure’ – The former astronaut’s father or grandfather was an ex- Black Watch piper. His kilt and pipes are found in his loft.

Seaforth Highlanders

TV Series - Evelyn Waugh autobiographical comedy / drama – One of the officers wears a Seaforth glengarry

Film ‘Tobruk’ - Nigel Green’s colonel is a Seaforth.

Film ‘Appointment with Venus’ – David Niven as Seaforth Commando

TV Series - Blood Red Roses – Crippled father is a Seaforth. Fought in N.Africa, Italy N.W. Europe and Norway in the script. No Seaforths in Norway.

74th Highlanders

Film 'The Rare Breed'- James Stewart Western about breeding cattle. Brian Keith is a rival rancher and Scottish ex-soldier who turns up in 74th Full Dress to impress Maureen O'Hara. Keith’s ridiculous accent is more than matched by the fiery thatch of ginger facial hair he sports. (Rip Torn recreates this ridiculous combination of hair and tortured accent as a drunken Scottish sailor in Goldie Hawn / Kurt Russell comedy ‘Swept Away’)

Gordon Highlanders

TV Series ‘The Monoc’led Mutineer’ – Involved in rioting in town.

Film ‘Waterloo’ – Several scenes. See also Scots Greys

Film ‘Zeppelin’ – Michael York as a half-German, half-Scots Gordon

Film ‘The Heroes of the Krait’ Gordons officer leading Operation Rimau against Japs – all captured, tortured and beheaded.

Film ‘The Highest Honour’ Gordons officer leading Operation Rimau against Japs – all captured, tortured and beheaded.

TV Series ‘The Heroes’ Gordons officer leading Operation Rimau against Japs – all captured, tortured and beheaded.

Film ‘The Drum’ – Volunteers from regiment help Political Officer Roger Livesey on North West Frontier during the 1930’s

Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders

TV Film ‘Kim’ – Deserter is a Cameron

Film ‘Whisky Galore’ – Island in Inverness-shire. Home Guard in Camerons uniform

Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Film ‘Too Late the Hero’ South-East Asia 1941/42

Film ‘To End All Wars’ – Several key characters are Argylls

Film ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ – 93rd Highlanders

Film ‘The Captive Heart’ – Blind Gordon Jackson is an Argyll. See also unknown regiment section.

Recent TV Film ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ – Set in 1914. Wrong sporrans.

The Highland Regiment

TV Sitcom ‘Dad’s Army'

Canadian Scots

Film ‘The Devil’s Brigade’ – Canadian contingent led by Pipe Band. Several Canadian Scots regiments represented.

Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

Film ‘Paratrooper’ Alan Ladd joins Paras via Seaforths of Canada. Also Harry Andrews is an ex-Scots Guards RSM

Unknown regiments

Poirot special – In military hospital red tartan kilt. Canadians? See also RSF

Film ‘The Captive Heart’ – Reformed 51st Div personnel used as extras playing captured 51st Div. men using real POW camp in Germany for film set. See also Argylls

Film ‘The Man who Would be King’ Sean Connery and Michael Caine laughing about one of the pipers in their old regiment during their campaign in Afghanistan. Could be 72nd or 92nd Highlanders?

Confused Soldiers

Sean Connery in 'Murder on the Orient Express' is a Royal Scot in one scene and a Scots Guard in another

Richard Todd is referred to as a Cameronian and but dressed as a Cameron Highlander in the ‘Hasty Heart’. Both regiments had battalions in Burma where it is set.

Made-up Regiments

Caledonian Highlanders - Film ‘Bonnie Scotland’ Laurel & Hardy. Uniform based on Black Watch and Camerons

Spofforth Highlanders - Film ‘The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer’. The Colonel of the Regiment, Julian Glover, is bribed to steal the Swiss gold reserves for Britain to avoid amalgamation. Can’t remember uniform details (Camerons?)

Third Foot and Mouth - Film ‘Carry-on Up the Khyber’ – Uniformed as Camerons

Un-named Highland Regiments

Film ‘Tunes of Glory’ - Hunting Scot tartan for the kilts. Lion rampant replaced the St Andrew of the Cameron's badge. The regiment in the book is based on Gordon Highlanders. See also the book George McDonald Fraser’s ‘The General Danced at Dawn’ which has characters very obviously based on the same real life people as Kennoway’s ‘Tunes of Glory’)

TV Series ‘The Avengers’. Episode from 1st series ‘Esprit de Corps’. Duncan MacRae. Roy Kinnear, John Thaw. 1960s Jacobites in Camerons uniform.

Film ‘The Amorous Prawn’ hard up General uses his HQ as a Country house hotel. Camerons? turn up at the end.

Film ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ – Song & Dance scene in Portobello Road. Uniform of government tartan kilt, Black Watch bonnet badge (Not hackle).

TV Pathologist Series from early 1990’s. Officer Presiding at a Court martial. QOHldrs glengarry with a thistle badge. Couldn’t identify kilt.

Film ‘You Must be Joking’ – Several military / secret service folk are set some tasks around London to assess their suitability for a mission. Lionel Jeffries as Sgt. Maj. McGregor turns up in Full Dress including feather bonnet. Argyll uniform?


I have a feeling that Alexander Korda had a Highland regiment in his Sudan shots in ‘The Four Feathers’. This story has been remade several times and pretty much all of them re-used Korda’s footage so there may well be several more films with these Highlanders in them.

I’m not sure that ‘Young Winston’ has some Highlanders in the Battle of Omdurman scenes but it has been many years since I have seen that film so can’t be sure. The Seaforths and Camerons were both involved in this Campaign. In the same film Edward Woodward plays an officer in the Boer War train derailment scene. In real life Churchill was travelling with Royal Dublin Fusiliers but in the film I’m pretty sure the officer had a helmet flash of the Douglas tartan of the Cameronians.