In 2014 the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, Cumnock History Group began researching the names on the War Memorial plus other men and women with Cumnock connections mentioned on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission or in the Cumnock Chronicle of the time. The research is not limited to those who died but also to men and women who served, using family history information.

The group would like to appeal to individuals with knowledge of family members for photographs of the soldier, either in uniform or not, and photos of medals or other memorabilia eg letters sent home from the Front. If you would be prepared to share these on this site, please email the web manager cumnockhistory [at] The group is willing to share any copies of documents found with the soldier's descendants.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

2 neighbours from Skares Row

Neighbours  James Bruce Johnstone and Michael Shirkie of 101 and 113 Skares Row respectively enlisted together at Glasgow on 14 September 1914 within 2 weeks of war breaking out. (I know this because their service records survived and are on the ancestry website and elsewhere. Not all service records survived.) Both were miners, and single. They enlisted in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders,  and both set sail for France on 8 July 1915. Neither came home.
James Bruce Johnstone, a miner, was born in Patna in 1891. He was the son of Charles J Johnstone and his wife Mary McDerment. He had blue eyes and reddish hair and was 5ft 8 and a half inches tall. He was a Sergeant in the 7th Battalion of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. He was killed in action in France/Flanders on the 27th February 1916.  He was 25. His father received his medals on the 6th July 1921.

Thanks to his great nephew, also James Bruce Johnstone, who provided the photograph, medal and memorial silk.
Sgt Jimmy B Johnstone

Victory Medal

memorial silk, printed in Cumnock
James B Johnstone on Cumnock Connections family tree and in Commonwealth Graves Commission

Michael Shirkie, a miner, was born in Catrine in 1889. He was the eldest child of Edward Shirkie and his wife Isabella Montgomery. He had fair hair and blue eyes and was 5ft 7in.  He was a Private 7th Battalion of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders.  He was reported missing presumed dead after the Battle of Loos on the 25th September 1915. He was 26. Michael (Mick) was batman to Captain Wm H Kirkland who was also killed in the Battle of Loos and the story goes Michael went to his aid on the field and perished too. Michael's sister got a letter addressed to any living relative of Michael Shirkie, Skares. It was from Captain Kirkland's sister and the postman delivered it to Liz's grandmother Nellie, Michael's sister in the photo.
Mick Shirkie with brother Johnnie and sister Nellie

Thanks to Liz Ferguson, Michael's great niece for info and photo.

Both men are commemorated on the Cumnock War Memorial and on the Loos Memorial in France.

Michael Shirkie on Cumnock Connections family tree and on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site

Update 17 Sep 2014
It seems that not 2 but 3 men signed up together.
John Stewart of 54 Skares Row also enlisted together. I have found the service papers of John Stewart which confirms he did. After the war he went to the USA.
The cousin of Michael Shirkie also Michael Shirkie, mentioned below, did sign up but he was younger and enlisted later than the other 3.


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