The Galloway Gazette continues its look back at the reports, letters and events recorded in the paper during the Great War, 100 years ago.
The Galloway Gazette, April 29th, 1916
Mysterious camp in Carsphairn hills
Some excitement was caused in Kirkcudbright that week when five prisoners, handcuffed in pairs, were marched from the railway station to the police office accompanied by three constables. Most of the men arrested had a rather unkempt appearance. All sorts of rumours were afloat in the town, the most popular was they were German spies. But it turned out the men, all in their early 20s, came from London, Bristol and Radnor in Wales.
Later that day they appeared before the Sheriff on a charge of encamping on the farm of Clannoch, near Carsphairn, without permission, and each was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment.
The men had been camped there for a week, but after the police were notified, a posse of constables set out to investigate. Two men were quickly arrested and left guarded by a constable and two shepherds who came to help out. The other men had taken to their heels, pursued by the remaining constables. A wild chase had ensued over four miles until the fugitives were run to a standstill.
From the fact they all wore red ribbons in their coats and sang the ‘Red Flag’, it was conjectured they were Socialists trying to escape military service. Considerable sums of money had been found on two of the men. They had sleeping bags and ground sheets with them indicating they had been planning a prolonged stay in the Galloway hills.
Promotion for Newton Stewart soldier
The McNearnie family from Newton Stewart were delighted to hear that their son Corporal Hugh McNearnie had been promoted to Sergeant.
Keith Stewart memorial at Challoch
On the first anniversary of his death on the battlefield, the Earl and Countess of Galloway erected a memorial to their second son, Lieutenant The Hon. Keith Stewart, Black Watch.
The popular officer was killed, aged 20, a year ago at Aubers Ridge.
The Creetown granite Gothic cross is eight feet high. The inscription, which is in imperishable lead letters, reads: ‘To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Lieut. The Hon Keith Anthony Stewart of The Black Watch, Royal Highlanders, second son of Randolph Henry, 11th Earl of Galloway.
‘Born at Datchet, near Windsor, 8th September, 1894, killed in action at Aubers Ridge in France on May 9th, 1915, whilst gallantly leading his platoon in the charge against the German positions.
‘Beloved and mourned by his comrades, both officers and men, and all who knew him, he has left a name for devotion to duty and ability in its performance, for kindliness of heart and integrity of character, which will never be forgotten.
‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’.
The cross, which was placed close to the north wall of the churchyard, and overlooks the main road to Bargrennan.
His Sandhurst army class master said of Keith: “Of all the good lads I have trained here, for their country’s service, there has never been one who did better work, or shown greater promise of future eminence. He was always my pride and my joy.”