In 2014 the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, Cumnock History Group began researching the names on the Cumnock 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.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

James Donaldson

He is the son of John Donaldson and Janet Menzies b 1890 in Townhead St.    He died in France 1 April 1917 and is remembered on the Cumnock War Memorial and the British Savy Cemetery in France.

Name: James Donaldson
Birth Place: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire
Residence: Old Cumnock
Death Date: 1 Apr 1917
Death Place: France and Flanders
Enlistment Place: Ayr
Rank: Private
Regiment: Highland Light Infantry
Battalion: 17th (Service) Battalion (3rd Glasgow)
Regimental Number: 353083
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre
Comments: Formerly 9807, R. Scot Fus.


Cumnock Connections tree
Taken by Morag Gordon

James Docherty

James Docherty was born about 1879 in Cumnock to Patrick Docherty and Mary Ann McAllister.
He was married to Janet who later remarried to Shields and lived at 49 Tower Street. (I can't find either marriage)

Cumnock Connections tree

He was killed in the early days of the war (26th Oct 1914) and at 35 was older than most.


He is remembered on Cumnock War Memorial and Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium.

Thomas M B Smith

A survivor of the war whose service record survives is Thomas Main Baird Smith of Pedenthorn, Cumnock who enlisted in the Territorials, Lowland field company in 25 November 1915 at Coatbridge. He was 19 and 11 months. He was a bank clerk.

He was promoted to sergeant in May 1916 but reverted to sapper  at his own request in September that year.

He was born about December 1895,  son of house painter Robert Smith and wife Sophia of Barrhill rd in 1901 census.

He married Jeanie Mellis Sommerville in Irvine in 1920. He was a bank teller.

Cumnock Connections

Monday, 23 June 2014

John M Smith

Updated 2018
Not the son of John Smith and Charlotte McDonald as previously supposed..
Article in the Chronicle gives his mother as Mrs William Smith of Bank Avenue. She is Martha Morris so the M stands for Morris and this is confirmed in a ship's manifest.

Cumnock Connections tree

Name: John M. Smith
Birth Place: Lugar, Ayrshire
Residence: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire
Death Date: 1 Jul 1916
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Glasgow
Rank: Private
Regiment: Highland Light Infantry
Battalion: 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Glasgow)
Number: 15040
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre


The only John Smith born in Lugar in the timescale is the son of John Smith and Charlotte McDonald born 9 Dec 1896.   Maybe the M stands for McDonald

He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial  and Cumnock and Lugar War Memorials.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

John Taylor

Private John Taylor of the Cameron Highlanders appears on Cumnock War Memorial.

He was born at Torhill in Muirkirk on 23 December 1888, the son of David Taylor and Ann Murdoch of Muirkirk (and a second cousin once removed of my husband)

He died in France on 25 Sep 1915 at the Battle of Loos, the eleventh local man I have found so far to have fallen in this battle.

Name: John Taylor
Birth Place: Muirkirk, Ayrshire
Residence: Muirkirk
Death Date: 25 Sep 1915
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Rank: Private
Regiment: Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Battalion: 7th Battalion
Number: S/13407 (see medal card below, S/13497)
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

He is remembered on Muirkirk War Memorial and on the family gravestone in Muirkirk Cemetery
photo by Bobby Grierson

Saturday, 21 June 2014

William McCall

William McCall was born about 1893 in Cumnock.

Report from the Cumnock Chronicle.

 His service record survives and gives his mother as Mrs James Nicol. He was a coach painter living in 25 Lugar Street and aged 21 and 4 months when recruited by Sgt McGill in May 1915. He joined the Cameron Highlanders at Inverness. He was 5 ft 5 weighed 156 lbs and had a chest measurement of 39 ".  His mother signed for his scroll as Maggie Nicol. I found a marriage of Maggie Begg and James Nicol in Cumnock in 1910.

In the 1901 census he is with his mother and grandfather
Roadside, Cumnock
James Begg 70 stonebreaker b new Cumnock
Maggie Begg 29 dau
William Begg 25 son gardeners labourer
Robert Begg 22 coal miner
William Mccall 8 grandson b Cumnock


He died at the Somme in France on 18 July 1916 and is on Cumnock War Memorial and Thiepval in France.

Name: William Mccall
Birth Place: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire
Residence: Old Cumnock
Death Date: 18 Jul 1916
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Old Cumnock
Rank: Private
Regiment: Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Battalion: 5th Battalion
Number: S/18041
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre


He is also remembered on his mother's gravestone in Cumnock  new cemetery. He is named as William Allan McCall.
photo taken 18 Apr 2015 by Kay

Thursday, 19 June 2014

McEwan brothers in Canada

I was tracing descendants of John McKinnon, a snuff box painter.  His granddaughter Jane McKinnon married John McEwan of Catrine. They moved to Kilwinning about 1890. Several of their children and Jane herself went to Canada from about 1910.

Son Duncan McEwan, a baker, enlisted in the Canadian army in 1917. See his papers here. He was living in Edmonton, Alberta. He was in the Forestry Battalion. He was blind in one eye.

Duncan's younger brother William McEwan had been killed in France the previous year. William enlisted in June 1915. See his papers here. His teeth were to be fixed. He died at the Somme on 15 Sep 1916.


Thursday, 5 June 2014

John McGarey

John McGarey was born in Cumnock in 1885.

In 1915 he was injured in the Battle of Loos as reported in the Cumnock Chronicle

He  died in Stobhill Hospital on Christmas Eve 1916 age 30 of a perforated gastric ulcer and toxaemia, 2 days. His usual address was 73 Townhead St, Cumnock* and he was a private in  the 3rd Battalion the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He was single. His father was Andrew McGarey, coal miner, and his mother was Roseanna Hair, deceased. The informant was his sister Annie Earl of 12 University St, Overnewton, Glasgow.

He is buried in Cumnock new cemetery and is on Cumnock War Memorial.


Cumnock Connections tree

1891 census
Glaisnock St, Cumnock
Andrew McGarry             30 b Kirkmaiden
Rose Ann McGarry             36 b Stranraer
Rose Ann McGarry             7
John McGarry             5
Hugh McGarry             2

1901 census
Glaisnock St, Cumnock
Andrew Mcgarry             40 coal miner  b Stranraer
Roseann Mcgarry             46 Castle Douglas
John Mcgarry             15 moulder
Hugh Mcgarry             12
David Anderson             49 boarder

* Coincidentally, the address of 73 Townhead Street is the same for the soldier in my last post, James McMillan. Would it be a tenement?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

James McMillan

James McMillan was born  in 1898.  He died on 21 March 1918 in France.
Cumnock Chronicle by Bobby Grierson added March 2018

His service record survives.

 He was a butcher aged 18 of 73 Townhead St. when he enlisted on 25 Feb 1916 at Ayr. He was sent to France on 29 Nov 1916.

 His father provided the names of his family on 1 July 1919.

 He was 18yrs and 7 months on enlistment, 5 ft 6 1/8in, chest 35 1/2 in, and weighed 130 lbs

 He was in hospital in 1917 for 6 weeks with trench feet.

I had a job finding the family in the 1901 census. The record does not give his birthplace, just residence of 73 Townhead St  in 1916-1919. I solved this by getting the birth record for Janet Mcmillan in 1907 hoping she was born in Cumnock. She was and it gave me her mother's maiden name and date and place of their marriage, Galston in 1894. I found them in Townhead St, Cumnock (misrecorded by ancestry) but no James with them. He was living with mother's parents in West Lanfine in Darvel in the parish of Galston.  I do like it when I can account for everybody!

Cumnock Connections tree


He is on Cumnock War Memorial and the Arras Memorial in France.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

James Walsh

On Cumnock War Memorial he is down as Pte James Welsh, Royal Scots but I think he is James Walsh of the RSF.

Name: James Walsh
Birth Place: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire
Residence: Rankinston, Ayrshire
Death Date: 30 Dec 1915
Death Location: Gallipoli
Enlistment Location: Dam Park, Ayrshire
Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Scots Fusiliers
Battalion: 1/5th Battalion
Number: 7332
Type of Casualty: Died of wounds
Theatre of War: Balkan Theatre

He was the son of Patrick Walsh and Theresa McAllister born on 27th June 1894 at Longhouse, Cumnock

1901 census
Old Longhouse

Patrick Walsh             58 fireman steam boilers b Ennis, Co Clare. Ireland
Theresa Walsh             37
Mary Walsh             10
James Walsh             6
Charles Walsh             4
Thomas Walsh             10 Months
rest b Cumnock

Cumnock Connections tree


He is commemorated on the Helles War Memorial, Turkey and on Cumnock War Memorial.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Benjamin Smith

Born 1876 in Kilmarnock, died in Old Cumnock in 1933, Corporal Benjamin Smith served in the RFA in Palestine and Egypt.

In 1901 census he was a tailor aliving with his parents at 37 Montgomery St in Kilmarnock.  He married Margaret McCall in 1906. He died in 1933 in Cumnock.

Name: Benjamin Smith
Gender: Male
Rank: ASgt
Birth Date: 1876
Residence Place: Cumnock
Military Service Region: Scotland, Scotland
Discharge Date: 4 May 1919
Service Number: 655874
Regiment: R F A.
Title: Pension Record Cards
Description: Pension Record Ledger
Reference Number: 1/APD/705

On Cumnock Connections tree

Thanks to Janet Smith for providing information and the photo.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Mauchline Gorge graffiti

Husband likes to walk in the Mauchline Gorge and has his lunch at this spot. Today he snapped a piece of almost 100 year old graffiti in the soft sandstone.

The date differs by 5 days on the  Commonwealth War Graves Commission site

Ancestry provides his place of birth as Prestonpans. I can't find a match for him in the censuses. Nor does his service record survive. So was it a later tourist who commemorated George? It is a beautiful spot to remember a lost loved one.

Name: George Rowan
Birth Place: Prestonpans, Midlothian
Death Date: 23 Nov 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Perth
Rank: Private
Regiment: Gordon Highlanders
Battalion: 6th Battalion
Number: S/41186
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Update: after some judicious googling the mystery is solved, thanks to this entry about New Cumnock war memorials

George was born in 1898 in the Newcraighall area of Musselburgh, (about 5 miles from Prestonpans).
His father Walter Rowan a coal miner was a native of Dalmellington.

On Cumnock Connections tree

The other soldier who is remembered nearby is David Strickland