Notice has been received of the death of another native in the person of L-Cpl John McRobert whose father Bob McRobert for many years drove the station bus in connection with the Dumfries Arms. As a youth L/Cpl McRobert acted as groom to the vet James Wallace and this occupation he followed after the family left the district about seven or eight years ago. He had enlisted before he was 18. Mr and Mrs McRobert are now resident in Lockerbie where Mr McRobert is a gamekeeper on the Castlemilk Estate.
His great niece Jane Bowie has been in touch. She writes:
His service records say that he joined up in the Scottish Rifles Cameronians right at the start of the war, and was continually transferred due to heavy casualties destroying any company he was in. He served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, then in the Royal Yorkshire Light Infantry and was finally transferred to the KOSBs. At the time of his death he was attached to an Australian battalion and it was an Australian clergyman who wrote the personal letter of condolence to my great grandparents.His number on joining up was 265443 and was subsequently changed to 41611.His date of birth is given on his birth certificate as 8th September 1894, although the article in the Chronicle states he was 17 on joining up and his gravestone gives his age as 22. He wrote home shortly before his death asking why his family was not writing to him anymore, if they had forgotten him. The letters were all there, but he had been transferred so many times that the postal service couldn't find him. You can imagine his parents' anguish on receiving this letter and shortly after the notice of his death. He was very able with horses and loved them, on one occasion he was able to calm and control the captain's horse which had gone mad through fear during the bombardments, and which subsequently would only let him or the captain touch it.He had three younger sisters, and was part of a very close family. In 1919 his grief stricken parents risked another child, my great grandmother giving birth to my great uncle Robert at the age of 50. My grandmother (the eldest girl) was very close to him and would still write about him to me into the 1980s.
|His grave in Longuenesse. Photo from Jane Bowie.|
My great grandmother made the journey to his grave in France and kept a jar of earth from it all her life.