Friday, 19 June 2015

A letter from the front

In the Dunfermline Journal and Advertiser for West Fife 100 years ago this weekend (to be specific the Saturday June 19 1915 issue):

A letter from the front: a Lochore Highlander's letter

Private William Stark, Kelty, who with 40 Lochore men are members of G company 7th A & S Highlanders, writing on 26th May, gives a graphic account of his own experience and those who [are] his comrades.  He was with Stewart Miller, Kinneswood when he was shot in the stomach and helped to bury him about 300 yards behind the firing line.  He says his comrade never recovered consciousness and mentions that a cross will be put up over his grave if ever the company get back to the neighbourhood.  He helped to carry Captain Tullis to the ambulance where he was wounded in the head.  The Colonel of the Regiment, the Major and several officers were wounded in the struggle in which the Germans made use of poisonous gas.  "It was the hottest day I ever put in all my life" says the writer "as the shells were flying as thick as rain, the Germans shelling us and our artillery shelling them."  Private Stark tells of meeting George Struth, J Reid, P Bryan all Lochore men.  He continues: "Watson was in the trenches with me all day but went away at night.  One fellow told me he met him that night four or five miles from the firing line and I think he will be in hospital now as he was bad with the gas and absolutely done up with the work he had done that day in the trenches.  George Davidson is also in the hospital.  The night before we went in to the trenches he was not feeling well so the doctor sent him away.  A Redpath is in hospital too with the gas.  He left with a lot more men.  When the gas came over, the Germans came over their trenches and started to advance but they did not half get [far] for they were mowed down by our men in the trench and the artillery so that they were forced to go back to their own trenches".  Private Stark mentioned that at the time of writing there were only 100 men of the battalion and 2 officers (brothers Scott) who went with it to France but was hopeful a good many would turn up in hospital and recover from their wounds or the gassing.  He writes with warm admiration of Mr Kirk the chaplain who is the uncle of Mr Charles Barclay, chemist, Glencraig.

Now this is where I would welcome your opinions either on a comment on this blog or to my e-mail address below or on twitter (my twitter account is @ancresbyjacq).  Would some of the above explicit detail have been much good for morale at home or for the families of some of the soldiers named in the above letter?  Please do let know your opinion.

Tune in next week to see what happened in Dunfermline next week 100 years ago ..........

Blog written by Jacqueline Hunter of Ancestral Research by Jacqueline, Dunfermline, Scotland. Please email me at if I can help you with your family history research.

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