Galloway’s Great War

The Galloway Gazette continues its diary of excerpts from the Gazette files during the First World War:

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 25th April 2015, 6:36 pm
Geroge Marshal - missing for over a year
Geroge Marshal - missing for over a year

The Galloway Gazette,

November 20th, 1915

Letters home from the Western Front in France at this time were still full of news about local soldiers taking part in the The Battle of Loos which began on September 25th.

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“We charged for the fifth time”

Garliston soldier Private James Donnan, serving with the Cameron Highlanders, writes home to this father saying: “We were ready for action at dawn on the 25th. Rain had been falling heavily since 4am as the British artillery opened up and bombarded the German lines. At half six the order was given to storm the German trenches.

“We took the first line easily as the Germans there showed little fight. But when we pushed onto the second trench we were met with heavy maxim gun fire, many of our men falling. Four times we tried to force their second line and four times we were thrown back by overwhelming numbers. But at last we saw the German left flank starting to give way. It would have made you people at home leap with joy if you could have seen the rush when we charged for the fifth time. It was a case of who could kill the most, such a slaughter of human beings could not be imagined....”

Sad loss of soldier devoted to his horse

Mr McAllister, Old Mill, Port William, has received a letter from the sergeant of his son’s regiment telling him how he met his death:

“He was always a jolly fellow, well liked by all, and went by the name of ‘Mac’. He was recognised by all the battery as the best signaller we had, so you will understand that apart from his company, he is missed greatly in this work. He was a fine soldier and received his wound while doing his duty towards his country. I had been talking to him about one hour before I heard the sad news.

“There is one thing that I would mention, and that is your son’s great thought for his horse. He rode a black mare, which he called ‘Polly’. He thought more of her than himself, I believe, always looking after her before doing anything for himself. He came out to do his duty for his country and he did it to the last letter, and fell a hero to the cause.”

Deserter arrested near Newton Stewart

Private John Hunter, 3rd Battalion Cameron Highlanders, who deserted from his regiment on the 5th of October in Invergordon, was arrested at the farm of Glenvernoch, Penninghame on the 16th by Sergeant Armstrong, Newton Stewart, and was conveyed to Wigtown the following day, where he was committed to prison to await the arrival of a military escort.

Heather a hit in the Transvaal

To show how willing minds can make something out of nothing for the benefit of our brave soldiers, a parcel of heather was sent out from Glenluce by Miss M Rusk to Mrs Thomas Douglas, Johannesburg, Transvaal, who sold it in sprigs to friends on the Rand, the whole bunch realising £1 15s, which has been sent home as a contribution to the Glendarroch Convalescent Home, Kirkcowan.

Recruiting drive in Stranraer

The recruiting effort in Stranraer in connection with Lord Derby’s scheme is being carried out in the burgh with enthusiasm. Over fifty canvassers have been at work and they report they have been courteously received everywhere. A cordial response has been given to the appeal by the unmarried men and numbers have not waited to be placed in the Reserves, but have gone straight to the Recruiting Office.

The Derby Scheme was introduced in autumn 1915 by Kitchener’s new Director General of Recruiting, Edward Stanley 17th Earl of Derby. The scheme would demonstrate whether British manpower goals could be met by volunteers or if conscription was necessary. Derby required each eligible man aged 18 to 41 who was not in a “starred” (essential) occupation to make a public declaration. When the scheme was announced many men went to the recruiting office without waiting to be “fetched”.

Fears for Garlieston man

missing for a year

There is growing concern for the well being of Private George Marshal, 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, as he has been missing since 24th October, 1914.

The last letter received from him is dated 26th September, 1914, from France. His brother Stewart, of Culscadden Farm, Garlieston, would be thankful for any information regarding George.

Heroism of Newton Stewart Boy

Mr James McGeoch, Victoria Street, Newton Stewart, has received the following letter from Mr J Parker Smith, (formerly an MP for Glasgow) regarding the heroism of his son, Corporal Martin McGeoch, towards Mr Parker Smith’s injured son after the troops landed at Sulva Bay in the Dardanelles.

“My Dear Sir

I have been anxious to hear about your son, Corporal McGeoch, who took charge of my son, Lieutenant W Parker Smith, of his regiment, when he was mortally wounded immediately on landing at Sulva Bay. Major Maxwell wrote to me and described how my son was picked up and put in such shade as they could find, and lay there for the whole day, as the shelling was too heavy to move him during daylight. He said: “Corporal McGeoch sat beside him through the whole of that long day (he was wounded about 6am), fanning the flies off him and keeping wet seawater bandages on his forehead in the most selfless and devoted way.”

“I wrote out saying I wished to thank him but Major Maxwell said your son was in hospital in Malta; adding that he was a very fine little fellow. I am afraid that sickness has been as deadly an enemy as the Turkish shells, and I hope you have a good account of your son. If he is not fit to return to the front you may soon have him back in this country.

“My own son they had no hope of from the first, and though he lived through the voyage to Malta, he died immediately on arrival there. Please accept our thanks for what your son did for him, and let us know what accounts you have from him.”

J Parker Smith