The First World War
Armistice Sunday 1956. Wreath laying ceremony by scouts and guides at the war memorial
Boer War Of 1899-1902
One of the famous battles of this war was the Relief of Mafeking, which was marked by a bonfire in a field near Napier Lodge. The school children were also given a half-day's holiday to commemorate the Peace of Pretoria and an exceptional holiday on the 2nd June 1902 to celebrate the declaration of Peace in South Africa.
First World War
Historians have argued that the First World War changed the face of rural Scotland forever. What the effect was in the Parish of Strathblane is not recorded but one consequence was that many of the parish must have travelled abroad for the first time. As many of the parish volunteered for service, the parish church began to keep a list of where they were so that Christmas boxes could be sent to them. This list, contained in an ordinary notebook, still survives and is a fascinating record of where people from the parish served, and fell, in the name of their country.
The men from the parish served king and country all over the empire. Christmas boxes were dispatched not only to barracks in the United Kingdom but also to France, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Salonica and Bangalore, India! In their choice of regiments, they were equally diverse. The parish was represented in the H.L.I., the Scots Guards, The King's Own Scottish Borderers, Coldstream Guards, Gordon Highlanders, Lovat Scouts, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Cycle Corp to name but a few.
Members of the congregation contributed money on a regular basis throughout the war years to ensure that those serving their country were not forgotten. William Farmer and Sons, Italian Warehousemen, Hillhead, Glasgow dispatched the Christmas boxes. As well as food and other comforts, money was also sent. Peter and James O'Donnell, whose family still live in the parish, each received 10 French Francs in their Christmas boxes in 1917.
On a sadder note, the notebook also contains a list of fatalities as well as those discharged due to injury. The majority of those who died were killed in action or died of their wounds in France with one being killed in Belgium. Two of those killed, Wilfred Moyes, son of the Parish Minister, and Ferguson Thomson were awarded the Military Medal.
The Stirling Observer maintained a report on the men of the parish who had gone to fight for king and country and would record the names of those who had been wounded, killed or taken prisoner as well as announce who was home on leave. It would also subtly address the issue of those who had not volunteered. It reported the recruiting rally that was held at Lyall's Tearoom in October 1915. Recruiting rallies were also held at Crosshill on the site of the Edmonstone Hall.
Belgian Refugees and other Good Works
As the war progressed, all in the village began to be affected by it in some way. In February 1915 the Parish Council minutes record the arrival of a family of 6 Belgians in the parish for whom Mr. Coubrough had provided a furnished house. The children were later enrolled in the parish school. The newly formed tennis club began to run American tournaments to raise money for the Red Cross, cake and candy sales were held to raise money for them too. The children at the childrens home hospital began to knit socks etc for the soldiers, in common with many others in the parish under the auspices of the Strathblane Red Cross Working Party.
With so many men away at war - by the beginning of 1917 there were about 80 away from the parish - many tasks that had been done by men were being done by women and children. In February 1916 the postal delivery was reduced to once a day with two young ladies taking the place of the postman. Many of the school children were employed by farmers during the harvest.
An allotment scheme promoted by the government for growing vegetables was introduced at the beginning of 1917 and villagers were invited to cultivate plots, which were situated in the Ballewan area. Rules were also relaxed on pig keeping and villagers were informed that they could now keep pigs near to the houses and in gardens.
Lectures were held on a regular basis in both the pavilion and the village club. In December 1915 villagers were treated to a lecture in the village club entitled "Ten Months on Active Service" with the pavilion showing limelight views - an early form of cinema - for their war lecture in September 1917. "To the Trenches and Back" was the topic of the lecture in the pavilion in March 1917.
Church life was affected too, as in April 1917, the Rev W.B. Moyes announced that, along with one of the elders, he had volunteered for work with the troops. Shortly afterwards the Rev T Johnson, UF Minister left for war service, leaving the parish without a minister with the minister at Baldernock taking the services instead.
Rationing Holidaymakers to the parish in 1917 found that there was a scarcity of confections and liquor to purchase with the result that many shops would shut if supplies ran out. One villager was fined for fraudulently obtaining sugar saying it was for jam making when it wasn't. By the end of September 1917 sugar registration cards were being distributed thereby controlling such happenings. Food cards were introduced in February 1918 and the Stirling Observer noted that these were immediately applied for! By the end of 1917 the War Savings Association had been set up and the parish was encouraged to have its own branch. War Weapons Week was held in April 1918.
Convalescence The parish was also visited by soldiers both in service and convalescing. In February 1915 350 soldiers from the Glasgow Officer's Training Corp marched out to Blanefield, had tea in the pavilion and marched back. Detachments of artillery would march through the parish en route to other parts and the excitement would serve to remind the parish that there was a war on! Convalescent soldiers were entertained to tea at Campsie Dene House and in September 1918 Mr Coubrough arranged for 600 invalid soldiers to be entertained to tea in the grounds of Blanefield House. They were conveyed there and back in 12 three horse brakes, which must have been a sight to see.
The Armistice Celebrations
The Stirling Observer of the 16th November 1918 contains the following report: -
About 11 o'clock on Monday forenoon news reached the village that the armistice had been signed and hostilities ceased news spread quickly and in a short time numerous flags were fluttering, church bells were rung at intervals. The school was closed and children gathered material for a bonfire at Blaerisk, which was kept burning for days. A thanksgiving service is to be held in the church on Sunday.
The Parish Council was busy during the war organising the implementation of National Service, War Savings, and the Belgium Famine Relief. On the 21st November 1918 the minute book recorded the armistice with the now ironical remarks that
"the council recorded their profound thankfulness that under the merciful providence of Almighty God, by the skill and energy of our leaders, the efforts of our allies, but above all by the heroism, suffering and sacrifice of our sailors and soldiers, we have been saved from the fear of the enemy and the dark clouds of war and frightfulness, which has so long oppressed the world is being dispersed."
On the 10th July 1919 the Parish Council made arrangements to hold peace celebrations on 4th of August 1919. Sports and refreshments were to be organised and if possible a bonfire on Blairshill. Colonel McFarlane of Ballagan House organised the various events. It was noted that refreshments would be required for 700 persons and this would cost £35. £5 would be required for the bonfire and less than £25 for the sports programme. Such was the spirit of rejoicing that the Parish Council also agreed that people on the poor roll would receive an extra 5/- (25p).
The Strathblane War Memorial
The Stirling Observer of the 25th August 1921 recorded the unveiling on Sunday 21st August 1921 by His Grace the Duke of Montrose of the monument erected in memory of those who fell in the Great War. A joint service was held in the parish church at 12 noon after which a large gathering marched to the memorial led by a pipe band for the dedication and unveiling at 1.30pm. The comrades of the Great War headed the procession, followed by the Duke of Montrose, Sir Archibald Edmonstone and His Honour Judge Grahame. Following on were representatives of the various public bodies, the Boy Scouts, the ministers and Kirk Sessions, the relatives of the public then the general public.
The Duke of Montrose in unveiling the monument paid tribute to the sacrifice made by those from the parish who had died for their country. Speaking with deep feeling, he pointed out "what the war had meant to those who took part in it, and what their sacrifice meant to those who had benefited by their death, and what it ought to mean to the people of our land as an incentive to noble and self sacrificing lives."
The Rev T Johnson offered a prayer of dedication, and thereafter His Honour Judge Grahame formally gifted the site. Four trumpeters then sounded "The Last Post" and the Rev W.B. Moyes pronounced the Benediction.
The monument was designed by Robert Lorimer and was constructed of Doddington stone. It consists of a square base, each side being panelled to receive the inscriptions and names, a slender shaft rises from the base, and at the top of the shaft are four shields, the finish being a cross. A sum of over £800 was readily subscribed for the purpose of erecting it.
27 of the men from the parish who fell in the Great War are listed on the monument -
John Y Barr Lt A&S H
Robert Blair Pte HLI
Jas C Cartwright Pte ASC
Wm J Cartwright Gnr RFA
Wm Devlyn Pte HLI
George Don Pte HLI
Wm G Edmonstone Lt Coldstream Guards
William Ker Lt RN Divn
Alexander Lowe Spr RE
Alex Mitchell Pte SR
Daniel Morrison Pte KOSB
Wilfrid B Moyes MM Sgt RW Surrey Rgt
John McCulloch Pte A&SH
Donald McIntyre Pte Lovat Scouts
Jas Macintyre Pte Seaforth Hldrs
Donald McNeil Sgt Black Watch
RB Rowley Orr Capt A&SH
Wm Paterson Pte A&SH
Colin Rankin L\Cpl HLI
Robert Rigg Cpl Gordon Highlanders
James Robb Tpr Life Guards
Archd L Scott Pte MGC
Michael Stewart Pte Kings Liverpool Regt
Ferguson Thomson MM Pte Scots Guards
Eric Yarrow Lt A&SH
Philip Binnie 2nd Lt 5th SR Cameronians
John Dillon Pte RAMC
There are other men from the parish who fell in the Great War but do not appear on the monument for various reasons.
More information on the War Memorial can be found on the The Scottish War Memorials Project website and more information about those who gave their lives can be found on Wakefield Family History website.
©Alison Dryden, Strathblane Heritage Society 2004 & Alan Campbell