Galloway’s Great War

Privates Frank and John McShane
Privates Frank and John McShane

By December 1916, the men serving in the First World war were facing a third Christmas away from home.

The Galloway Gazette, December 2nd, 1916

MOCHRUM FAMILY LOSE A SECOND SON

Mrs McCaig, of the Fergusson Inn, Mochrum, learned that her son, Lance-Corporal Hugh McCaig, had been killed in action in Flanders.

This was Mrs McCaig’s second bereavement of the war, having already lost her youngest son, Private John McCaig, who drowned when the troopship, the Royal Edward, went down in August 1915.

When Hugh McCaig had heard of his brother’s death, he immediately came home from Canada and enlisted in the KOSB. He was quickly promoted and shortly before his death had been transferred to the 89th Machine Gun Company. It was in their service he fell. Mrs McCaig received the following letter from Hugh’s commanding officer:

“I am very sorry indeed to tell you of the death of your son, Lance-Corporal Hugh McCaig, of my Company, in action on 17th October, 1916.

“We are all very sorry to lose any of our original company, but the loss of your son is a particularly heavy blow. He was such a splendid soldier and all who came in contact with him said the same thing...”

Mrs McCaig still had one remaining son, Sergeant James McCaig, who had been on active service at the Front for many months. But by December 1916, he was in an English hospital recovering from an illness which had forced him to leave the trenches.

FIGHTING FAMILY

Mr and Mrs Malone, High Street, Wigtown, were informed by the war office that their son, Private R Malone, Royal Scots Fusiliers, was wounded on 13th November.

Before the war he had worked at Bladnoch Distillery. He had four brothers and a brother-in-law who also fought at the Front.

McSHANE MEN ALL ANSWERED THE CALL

Three sons of a well-known Machars dyker James McShane, of Bowling Green Road, Isle of Whithorn, were all serving in the forces in 1916.

Their mother had given all her sons of military age to the service of the country. The eldest, Patrick, served in the Royal Navy. John, the second oldest, was in hospital having been wounded on 29th July, and the youngest, Frank, was serving in Egypt at that time.

The Galloway Gazette, December 9th, 1916

MISSING SOLDIER WAS A POW

Mrs Thompson, Church Street, Kirkcowan, was thrilled to finally received a letter from her son, John, who had been reported missing for some weeks in last week’s edition. The Lance-Corporal, who served with the Scottish Rifles, wrote to his worried mother to explain he was now a prisoner of war and he was on his way to a German camp, but was in good health and spirits.

ELEPHANT SALE PLANNED FOR WHITHORN

In 1916 the committee of the Whithorn and Glasserton Soldiers’s and Sailors’ Comforts Fund had packed and dispatched 141 Christmas parcels to local men on active service abroad. Soldiers in Egypt and the East received 49 parcels, 18 went to Navy personnel and 74 to France. The parcels contained towels, socks, handkerchiefs, biscuits, salmon, fruit, toffee, dried fruits, cigarettes and candles.

The committee had also undertaken to send regular parcels to support two prisoners of war and in order to raise funds for this cause they were planning to hold a ‘White Elephant’ sale just after Christmas.

NB - A white elephant sale is a collection of used items being sold, like a garage sale.