Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Craigneuk War Memorial restored and refurbished

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
Overall the additions blend in well with the existing memorial - the stone of the surrounding wall is similar to the stone originally used, and in time it should look like a natural part of the memorial.

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.


  1. I think the clue to the look of the name panels is in this quote from the Bellshill Speaker

    " was made possible thanks to the .Co-operative Funeralcare. who gave plenty of advice and a discount on the memorial."

  2. ....."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."

    That was all that was required for your blog, everything beforehand is not only an insult to those who worked hard to make this new memorial happen but to the men whose names are now displayed on it.

    p.s. Use the search function for the name Argyle on this website


    Ooops! Too late, I think you already have

  3. John,

    Thank you for your comments. I'm sorry if you think I am insulting the effort involved in having the names added to this memorial.

    However, is it wrong of me to point out things which might be errors? If I had noticed a man with an incorrect spelling of his name, or the wrong unit attributed to him - should I just keep quiet about it?

    I appreciate that no list of names will ever be 100% accurate, especially with the passing of so many years. However, if I managed to notice these slight issues of rank and unit spelling, why did no-one involved?

    If the people involved had a specific reason for using Argyle for the Northern Ireland casualties, I would be interested to hear it. If their reasons are sound then I will gladly publish a retraction on this blog and edit this piece accordingly. I'll openly invite them now to get in touch with me to discuss this.

    As for the comments on the style of stones used for the name panels? It's my personal opinion. I'd have preferred them to match the lettering on the original memorial, but I'm sure they had reasons for it. Again, if they want to let me know what they were, they know where to find me.

    No insult was intended to the people concerned with the restoration, and if they feel that then I apologise, but to say I am insulting the men commemorated is ridiculous. I have worked on a number of projects dedicated to commemorating men listed on memorials throughout the country, and I take personal offence at the suggestion that I am insulting the memory of men such as these.

  4. Thanks for your reply David but I think we will have to agree to disagree.

    On first reading your blog my impression was that you had an agenda regarding the group who worked very hard to make the memorial happen. Having now read your reply I am convinced of it. Why didn't you contact them with your points? You would then have had the facts to include in your blog.
    " Again, if they want to let me know what they were, they know where to find me" That statement reeks of arrogance. Are you local to the area? Were you asked to help with this project?, having had experience of working on "a number of projects dedicated to commemorating men listed on memorials"

    The condescending first reply to your blog regarding "Co-operative Funeralcare" was also insulting to the many families of the men killed who did and still rely on them to this day.

    Craigneuk now has a fitting memorial to those who gave their lives for their country, we should all be thankful that even today they have not been forgotten.

  5. "O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us."


    Perhaps when you start bandying comments such as arrogant and condescending you should re-read your own comments.

    Knowing David (who is from Lanarkshire) I know that he would never insult those killed in war or their families.

    You are also being over-defensive about the Argyle / Argyll error. Whatever the spelling in the past by the time the two men died in Northern Ireland the regiment was the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. That was a simple mistake which really should not have happened.

    I will also stand by the first comment about the Co-op Funeralcare. My comment was not disparaging the co-op in any way. What I was pointing out was that the plaques look like large gravestones because they have been provided by an undertakers. That is nothing to be ashamed of, most modern memorials follow the practice of ninety years ago and use monumental masons for the stonework. Some war memorials from just after the First World War were provided by large monumental firms and were in effect scaled-up gravestones. That was good enough for many of Scotland's war dead and is certainly good enough for Craigneuk. There is nothing condescending and insulting about it.