The war memorial at Craigneuk, near Motherwell was officially unveiled on Saturday past. It has been given a makeover, and a new wall surrounding it now contains panels with the names of the fallen of the area.
|The memorial as it looked prior to refurbishment|
An interesting addition is a panel (which you can see in front of the memorial) commemorating the award of the Victoria Cross to William Clamp. Clamp's links to Craigneuk are vague to say the least - he attended school there - but if Craigneuk wish to claim him as their own I have no complaints about that. My home village of Carluke and the town of Armadale both claim William Angus VC as "theirs", so why shouldn't Craigneuk "claim" William Clamp as one of theirs?
The white circles you see are some kind of plastic items - perhaps a lighting system? It's unclear and unfortunately I didn't take the time to examine them. Whatever they are, I don't feel they fit in with the decor, which then brings me to my major gripe.
The original memorial had (and in fact still does) black letter laid into it. The new panels are as you can obviously see made of shiny black stone with gold lettering. I'm sure there was a reason behind this - cost perhaps, or this material will stand up to the elements better, but to my mind it looks wrong. Could they not perhaps have used the same style of lettering as on the original memorial? It seems a lot of effort was put into the stone of the wall blending with the original memorial, could the same effort not have been extended to the name panels as well?
Regardless of how they are displayed, it is good to see the fallen of Craigneuk being remembered. A couple of things do stick out a little, though.
The first is the First World War entry for Charles McKenna of the Scots Guards - his is the only entry not to display his rank - why? A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows only one Charles McKenna in the Scots Guards - a Private who died on the 30th March 1916. Why not include his rank?
The entry for Royal Artillery for the First World War is strange - technically these men would have been Royal Field Artillery, Royal Garrison Artillery or Royal Horse Artillery - I'm a little unsure why they are all grouped together in the singular Royal Artillery? Just because these units became one unit doesn't mean they should be grouped together - you wouldn't group the Highland Light Infantry and Royal Scots Fusiliers together just because they later became the Royal Highland Fusiliers - why not list the men under the name of the regiment they served with?
Some of these points seem like nit-picking, and I don't want them to detract from the fantastic effort that has gone into getting the names listed and properly commemorated, but there is one point I really do have to take issue with.
As you can see above, the final panel includes men who died serving in Egypt and Northern Ireland. Two of them were serving with the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. Wait, the who?
That's right. Despite being correctly spelled as Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on both the WW1 and WW2 panels, for some reason the regiment is given as Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders for two men killed in Northern Ireland.
Did I miss something here? I don't know of any time in their history that the regiment spelled it Argyle. I really hope I'm wrong, and please do let me know if I am. I will be prepared to eat a huge slice of humble pie and will issue a grovelling apology if I am, but until I am corrected I can't help but feel there's been a massive cock-up here. If anyone knows different to me (and its not unusual for me to be wrong) please do let me know in the comments.
As I said above, I don't want these criticisms to detract from what has been a magnificent effort from the people involved in the restoration. On the whole a fantastic job has been done and everyone should feel proud of the effort that has gone into commemorating these men.