Friday, 3 January 2014

World War One Soldiers part 1

In this anniversary year of the start of World War One, I am turning my research to local soldiers who served in this horrible conflict. I have joined Cumnock History Group. I am looking at names on the Cumnock War Memorial in Cumnock New Cemetery and trying to find out a bit about them using my ancestry subscription and Commonwealth War Graves Commission. (Links to these sites at the bottom of post)

Neighbours  James Bruce Johnstone and Michael Shirkie of 101 and 113 Skares Row respectively enlisted together at Glasgow on 14 Sep 1914 within 2 weeks of war breaking out. (I know this because their service records survived and are on the ancestry website and elsewhere. Not all service records survived.) Both were miners, and single. They enlisted in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders,  and both set sail for France on 8 July 1915. Neither came home.

James Bruce Johnstone, a miner, was born in Patna in 1891. He was the son of Charles J Johnstone and his wife Mary McDerment. He had blue eyes and reddish hair and was 5ft 8 and a half inches tall. He was a Sergeant in the 7th Battalion of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. He was killed in action in France/Flanders on the 27th February 1916.  He was 25. His father received his medals on the 6th July 1921.
His great nephew, also James Bruce Johnstone, a cousin of my husband, has provided the photograph.
Sgt Jimmy B Johnstone

Michael Shirkie, a miner, was born in Catrine in 1889. He was the eldest child of Edward Shirkie and his wife Isabella Montgomery. He had fair hair and blue eyes and was 5ft 7in.  He was a Private 7th Battalion of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.  He was reported missing presumed dead after the Battle of Loos on the 25th September 1915. Michael was a distant relation by marriage of my husband. He was 26. Michael was batman to Captain Wm H Kirkland who was also killed in the Battle of Loos and the story goes Michael went to his aid on the field and perished too. Michael's sister got a letter addressed to any living relative of Michael Shirkie, Skares. It was from Captain Kirkland's sister and the postman delivered it to Liz's grandmother Nellie, Michael's sister in the photo.
(Thanks to Liz Ferguson, Michael's great niece for info and photo)

Michael Shirkie with brother Johnnie and sister Nellie

Both men are commemorated on the Cumnock War Memorial and on the Loos Memorial in France.

Cumnock History Group
Cumnock War Memorial
Cumnock WW1 soldiers
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Ancestry UK site

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