Galloway’s Great War

Private Ernest McClelland
Private Ernest McClelland

The Galloway Gazette, November 18th, 1916


The Rev A W Black, from the UF Manse, Creetown received official word that his son, Private John Adamson Black, HLI, was killed in action. The grim news was contained in a letter from a soldier belonging to Newton Stewart who, in writing to a friend, said they would be sorry to hear that John Black had been killed by a shell which fell into the trench just as he was about to go over the top.

He was the Reverend and Mrs Black’s eldest son and, prior to the war, the 20-year-old was employed by the National Bank in Newton Stewart.

He had been out at the Front for a few months and was known as a bright and cheery individual who was a great favourite with people in Creetown.

When the news reached the village of his death the Sunday service in the United Free Church was cancelled.


Lance-Corporal John Thomson, Scottish Rifles, was reported missing. He was the son of Mrs Annie Thomson, Church Street, and had been working as a gardener in Edinburgh before being called up. He had been in France since July 1916.

Private Frank Stewart, HLI, the nephew of Mr Stewart, Mochrum, had also been missing since July 30th.


Few villages the size of Twynholm could match the enthusiasm for the military as was show by its soldier sons at the beginning of the war in August 1914.

Within a month of the outbreak of hostilities, ten of the village lads had entered the public hall to join up, as a group, to do their bit.

Of the ten, three who joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - Sergeant W McQuarry, Corporal James Maxwell and Private William Steele - had been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry.


At a meeting in Creetown of the joint committee for sending New Year parcels to the soldiers from the district at the Front, how many parcels could they afford was discussed. The committee had the handsome sum of £80 to spend; the curling club had collected £45; the Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild over £20 and a grant of £16 from the Kirkmabreck Voluntary Aid Detachment meant that 130 parcels could be sent to the troops.

The Galloway Gazette, 25th November, 1916

There was great sadness in Wigtown when news came through of the death of Private Ernest McClelland, late of Glenturk, who had died on 24th November at a casualty clearing station in France, of wound received in action five days before. Ernest, who was 25, was regarded as one of the flowers of the young men of the Machars. He was bright, modest and manly and was a favourite with everybody and his fine winsome figure will be much missed in the town.

When just a mere lad, his management of the farms of Glenturk and Carslae, during the long illness of his father, evoked great admiration and was much talked about. Ernest had also been wounded in September 1915.

Ernest and his three brothers (two from South Africa and one from Australia) all joined the colours early in the war. At the time of his death the other brothers were still serving; one in France, one in the Balkans and one in Egypt.


The ‘Edith Cavell’ X-Ray Motor Ambulance visited Newton Stewart and was on view at Messrs Murchie & Picken’s garage off Victoria Street.

The car proved a great attraction with a large number of people purchasing tickets to inspect it.