Galloway’s Great War

Private J Stewart
Private J Stewart

Zeppelin air raids had been a fact of life for southern English towns since the early months of The Great War, but this new threat from the air did not send shock waves of panic through the people of Galloway until late in 1916.

By then advances in the technology saw the north-east of England targeted. This was too close for comfort so the following stern warning was printed, showing how nervous the authorities were about the war suddenly arriving on their doorstep:

The Galloway Gazette, December 16th, 1916


The Commander-in-Chief, Scottish Command, issued a notice about dealing with the wreckage of hostile aircraft. Persons who found any articles that may have dropped from the hostile aircraft were required to communicate the fact to the nearest military or police authority under penalty of six months imprisonment or a fine of £100. The public were also warned that unexploded bombs were not to be touched by anyone except military experts employed for that purpose.


A letter was received by the uncle and aunt of the late Corporal J H D Nish, Canadian Infantry, from one of the officers in his battalion. Corporal Nish, who died on September 16th, was originally from Mochrum. The officer said: “Your nephew did wonderful work assisting with wounded during our first trip into the Somme trenches. He did splendid work at Hooge under very trying circumstances and invariably volunteered for every dangerous task during the days at St Eloi. He soon earned his Corporal’s stripes and had been recommended for a commission. He had an excellent future before him. Personally, I have felt his loss very keenly and even now I can scarcely realise my young friend has paid the supreme sacrifice. He was wounded by an enemy shell on the evening of the 15th and died in hospital on the 16th. You and the rest of Jimmy’s family have my deepest sympathy for your great loss but perhaps it will help you to know that he died the death of a good soldier and that of a very gallant gentleman. His comrades tell me he was cheerful to the last.”


Private Sam McCreadie, Royal Scots Fusiliers, from Culnoag, Sorbie, was admitted to hospital suffering from trench feet.


Private John Stewart, Highland Light Infantry, from Arthur Street, Newton Stewart, has been missing since November 18th. Before the war, Private Stewart served his time with the Clydesdale Bank in the town, before joining the Gretna branch.

Nineteen-year-old Lance-Corporal Robert Johnston had been killed in action on December 7th. The Lance-Corporal had enlisted in June 1916 and by the September he was in the frontline. He had been brought up in Bargrennan and before joining up was working as a shepherd at Grebdale, Girthon. His Company officer wrote to his father William, a shepherd at Cuffieton, Cally Mains, Gatehouse, to say: “I am afraid to write you this letter because it brings you the worse news concerning your son Robert. His young life was brought to an end this morning about nine o’ clock by an enemy bullet. I am certain that from his position he could not be seen and I have come to the conclusion that it must have been a stray shot that caught him. The bullet entered his right side and must have gone to his heart. He ran about ten yards and then dropped lifeless. As his company commander I have known your son since he joined this battalion and can only say that he was an upright, obedient and willing soldier.”