Louis McGuffie VC consultation underway

Louis McGuffie VC
Louis McGuffie VC

The residents of Wigtown and the surrounding district are being asked how they want to commemorate town hero Louis McGuffie, who won the Victoria Cross in World War One.

As part of the consultation, the townspeople will be asked if they are in favour of the town gardens being renamed ‘Louis McGuffie VC Memorial Wigtown Gardens’ and whether a commemorative paving stone should be placed at the main entrance to the gardens; adjacent to the Mercat Cross or at the entrance to the bowling green, opposite the County Buildings.

Across the country, the Ministry of Defence is providing commemorative paving stones to be laid in communities near the residence of winners of the medal and for Wigtown this means the Louis McGuffie paving stone will be laid at the chosen site in the town in 2018 - 100 years after his death.

The town’s community council and Dumfries and Galloway Council are working on the details of the memorial and are keen to hear people’s views.

There will be a display on Louis McGuffie in the foyer of the County Buildings until the consultation period ends on Friday, February 20, and on Monday, January 26 at 7.30pm there will be a public meeting in the supper room of the County Buildings to discuss the Louis McGuffie VC Commemoration.

You can pick up a voting paper in the County Buildings and have your say.

Mike Morley looks back at his lifestory:

Louis McGuffie was born on February 15, 1893, the first-born of Edward McGuffie and Catherine (Gilmour) McGuffie. Edward was a general labourer and, at the time of Louis’ birth, the family lived at 23 High Street and included children from Edwards earlier marriage to Elizabeth McCallum. As the family grew with the birth of twins in 1895 and Louis’ brother Robert, they moved from home to home in Wigtown (in 1901 at 20 Low Vennel, 1905 at 19 Low Vennel, 1915 at 21 Low Vennel). before the war Louis played football for Wigtown United.

“Although his military record does not survive, we know that Louis was a member of the 1st/5th Battalion of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, a territorial battalion of part-time soldiers and that his service number was 2255 (later 240693). At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the 1st/5th were mobilised and made ready for service. On May 11, 1915, the battalion sailed from Liverpool to serve at Gallipoli in Turkey, landing there on June 1915. Casualties at Gallipoli were high, with some of Louis’ fellow Wigtown men losing their lives. It was at Gallipoli that Louise McGuffie’s mettle was tested, being wounded twice. The battalion war diary on December 29, 1915 reported a skirmish with the Turks: ‘...and on the counter-attack by the Turks we manned the parapets and assisted in repelling the attack. Near us our bombing detachment, also attached to the Fusiliers, did magnificent service. Lance-Corporal McMurray was shot through the head by a sniper whilst throwing a continuous series of bombs during a strong Turkish counter-attack. He was ably seconded by Pte McGuffie, who later won the VC in France.’

“In January 1916 the battalion moved to Egypt for service in Palestine and Gaza before transferring to France in April 1918. By the time Louis had been promoted to the rank of Corporal and was soon to be further promoted to Sergeant. In September Louis’ brother Robert was severely wounded and had his left arm amputated. barely three weeks later Louis was killed.

The Galloway Gazette reported: ‘Mrs E McGuffie, Low Vennel, Wigtown has received official intimation of the death in action on 4th inst of her son, Sergt L McGuffie, KOSB. The Chaplain in writing to his mother says that the Commanding Officer told him that in her son he had lost the best and bravest man. During the fighting recently Sergeant McGuffie took 40 prisoners single-handed, and released ten men of a British regiment that had been taken prisoners by disarming the enemy escort that was leading them off. He was killed instantaneously by shellfire.’

“Just before Christmas 1918, the Galloway Gazette carried the news that he had been awarded the Victoria Cross.”