The Galloway’s Great War series of articles from the first year of the war, August 1914 to August 1915, comes out in paperback form next Wednesday, November 11th, compiled by Galloway gazette reporter Louise Kerr.
Louise said: “Having been fascinated with the First World War since my school days at the Douglas Ewart, so it has been a labour of love to go back through The Galloway Gazette files and unearth some of the stories of the men from this area who left home to go to war just over 100 years ago.
“This booklet allows them to have their voice back and the detail in the letters that were reprinted in the paper back then shows not just the level of hardship they endured during their time in the trenches but also their amazing powers of endurance and stoicism. Many of the family names mentioned then are still around today - McCreadie, Bell, Ross, McClure, Stewart, Priestley, Marr and McDowall.
“The Great War was no respected of the class system that was so prevalent then. An Earl’s son was just as likely, to be struck down as a farm labourer from the family estate, probably more so, as the officer class led from the front.
“As well as the reports from the theatres of war in France, Gallipoli and even South Africa, the paper also carried news of the great industry going on the Home Front to help the war effort. The women of Wigtownshire took up their knitting needles with a vengeance to produce an endless stream of clothing to be posted out to the soldiers. Work parties were established in every town and village for the cause. School children saved their pennies, farthings and halfpennies to fund Christmas boxes with the soldiers’ favourites, chocolate and cigarettes.
“There are stories of heartbreak, like the Kirkcudbright soldier killed when going from trench to trench looking for his brother, whom he had not seen for six years. Having finally found his brother’s regiment he was killed just yards from where his brother was sitting, dying before he ever saw him.
“Other stories reveal the soldiers’ relentless humour, with one cursing the enemy for spoiling his lunch. Private Curran wrote home saying: “I was opening a tin of bully beef when it dawned on me the beef was absent without leave and my chin was halfway down my throat...”
‘Galloway’s Great War Volume I: August 1914 - August 1915’ is on sale at £7.99 in Newton Stewart at The Post Office, Morris Newsagents and Laura’s; in Wigtown at Machars Action and Beltie Books; in Whithorn at The Central Cafe and in Creetown at the Heritage Centre (when open) and at the North West Castle Hotel Shop in Stranraer.
The book is also available by mail order at a cost of £10. For detail of this service please email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Louise Kerr, 16 The Square, Port William, Newton Stewart, DG8 9SE.