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.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Cumnock Chronicle Articles

In the summer of 1914 to mark the outbreak of WW1, we prepared some articles for the local newspaper, the Cumnock Chronicle. It seemed fitting as a lot of our findings came from old Cumnock Chronicles.

Articles as they appeared in the Chronicle

Sunday, 29 November 2015

James Baird

James Baird was the son of Cumnock potter William Baird and Margaret Barrie. He was born in Belfast in 1897.

Here's the family in 1911 census
114 Townhead St, Cumnock
William Baird 39 potter, thrower, Scotch Motto Ware
Margaret T wife married 15 yrs 4 ch 4 living b Glasgow
Annie 15 b Glasgow
James 14 b Ireland
William 12 b Ireland
Alexandra 10 b Sauchie, Clakmannashire
Alexander Barrie 77 wid father-in-law b Glasgow

James enlisted in the HLI in 1916. His service record survives. He had blue eyes and brown hair.  He was a millwright. He lived at Crossriggs Cottage in Townhead Street, now the vets. He was of good character.
He was discharged just three months after enlisting as he suffered from a lung condition and was in hospital in Edinburgh. He was advised to go to a sanatorium but was not willing.  There was some discussion as to whether army service caused or aggravated his condition. The army concluded it did not. He got £25 as a gratuity.
He married Christina Speirs in 1925 but succumbed to his lung condition in 1928.
He had a son who is still alive. He was only 8 months old when his father died, and his daughter sent me the photos.

James on Cumnock Connections tree

James in hospital blues
James with his sisters

1925 wedding photo

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Robert Thomas Main

Robert Thomas Main was one man who served and survived. He was born in Cumnock about 1889.  His parents were James Baird Main and Jane Gibson. 

James Main and Jane Gibson with children, Robert's on the far right

He served with Ayrshire Yeomanry in the Balkans and with the RSF in France. He was a Sergeant.

He married Annie Sloan of Ochiltree in 1920. The  best Man is Hugh Main, bridesmaid is  Mary Jane Reid, flower girl is Thirza Sloan. 

The Main family on Cumnock Connections tree

Thanks to his granddaughter Jane S for information and photos.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

David Strickland

While walking in Mauchline Gorge today we photographed some 100 year old graffiti - a memorial to Pte David Strickland, RSF.

I previously researched the other soldier George Rowan. I don't think there is anything to link the two men.

David Strickland was born on 17th January 1890 in Sorn to Daniel Strickland and Margaret Brown.

He was 26 when he was killed by the explosion of a German mine at Hill 70 at Loos on 27th February 1916. His father had died in 1911 and his mother lived at Mansfield View, Auchinleck.
The graffiti says he died at Hulloch. This is Hulluch which later was infamous for gas attacks.

He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

This is his entry on Ruvigny's Roll of Honour. 

Update 9 Sep 2018
Found by Bobby Grierson in 1983 Cumnock Chronicle

the graffiti is behind the bench

Add caption

the writing appears to be signed by JL


Monday, 28 September 2015

Archibald Mair

Archibald Mair is on his grandfather's headstone in Cumnock New Cemetery.

He was the son of William Mair a farmer at Gordonston, Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire and Elizabeth Martin. Her father was Bryce Martin a farmer of Knockshinnoch Farm

His service record survives. He was was about 1891 in Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire and was quick to enlist in the Cameron Highlanders in September 1914. He was an electrical engineer aged 22.  He had previously served in Glasgow Yeomanry.

He was killed in action at the Battle of Loos on 26th September 1915. His father was now living at Craigbrae, Drongan, Ayrshire. His mother had died in 1899.

He is on the War Memorial at St John's Town of Dalry and on the Loos Memorial


With thanks to Cumnock History Group members Morag and Mary who spotted the headstone in the undergrowth in the cemetery. It says at the bottom Arch. Mair killed in the Battle of Loos age 23.

Photo by Morag Gordon

Dumfries & Galloway Standard9 Oct 1915

Saturday, 19 September 2015

John Duncan

John Duncan was born in Cumnock on the 22nd June 1888.

His father was also John Duncan and the family lived at Kilnholm Place in 1901 census.
John Duncan 48 coal miner b Auchinleck
Elizabeth Duncan 49 b Douglas
James Duncan 21 coal miner b New Cumnock
Janet Duncan 20 gen servant b England
David Duncan 18 coal miner b England
William Duncan 15 grocer app
John Duncan 13
Alexander Duncan 11
Peter Duncan 8
Elizabeth Duncan 6
rest scholar b Cumnock

John senior died in 1903 and his widow Elizabeth and all the children except James left for Canada in 1907 on the Empress of Ireland to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway.  Son Peter was accidentally drowned at Fitzhugh, Alberta on 1911 aged 18.

In the 1916 census they are living at Edmonton, Alberta.

Elizabeth Duncan 63 none
Janet Duncan 34 clerk
David Duncan 33 fireman
William Duncan 30 blacksmith 138th Battalion
John Duncan 28 fireman
Alexander Duncan 26 fireman 138th Battalion
Elizabeth Duncan 21 none

Alexander and William enlisted in March 1916.  Alexander was a farmer and William a blacksmith.
Alexander and William visited Cumnock while on leave in 1916. This was reported in the Cumnock Chronicle of 22nd September 1916

John was called up in the summer of 1918. He was single and an engineer. He died on October 6th that year.
According to his gravestone on Cumnock New Cemetery he died at sea.


He is remembered on the Halifax Memorial in Nova Scotia and on his father's headstone in Cumnock New Cemetery

On Cumnock Connections family tree

Monday, 7 September 2015

Colin McIntyre

Colin or Coll McIntyre was born in Kilfinan, Argyllshire in about 1886.  In 1901 census he was a kennel boy at Otter House.

He married Janet Steele of Leith in 1910 in Leith by which time he was a game keeper and their son Duncan was born in Glasgow that year.

By 1914 they were at Holmhead in Sorn where their second son David was born.

Coll enlisted in the 6th Btn  RSF in Cumnock on 11th December 1915. His service record survives. He was sent to France on the 7th October 1916 till the

He died of wounds in France on the 1st February 1917.

His wife was living in Boreland Park, Auchterarder by this time and he remembered on the Auchterarder War Memorial and Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension in the Somme.

His record on CWGC

Monday, 17 August 2015

William McMurdo

William McMurdo was born on 28 July 1898 at 154 Commondyke by Auchinleck to William McMurdo and Mary Pooley.

He was a private in the 1st Battalion, RSF and fell in France on the 24th October 1918 only 20 years old.

Cumnock Chronicle


Cumnock Connections tree

James Rollie

James Rollie was born in Taiglum, Stair on 18th June 1886 to John Rollie, coal miner and his wife Emily Ann Hancock.  Her second husband was James Souter McMurdo (making him a step cousin of another fallen soldier, William McMurdo. In the 1911 census the 2 McMurdo families are living 3 doors apart in Commondyke.

Curiously, James  appears to have enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers in Blackburn, Lancashire under the name of Gibson. I cannot locate his birth certificate under either name in New Cumnock, Ochiltree or Coylton parishes so this is rather unusual.

CWGC says

Served as GIBSON, son of the late Emily Hancock McMurdo (formerly Rollie) and James McMurdo (stepfather), of 167, Commondyke, Auchinleck, Ayrshire.  (Emily Hancock is related to me distantly by marriage.) 

James does not appear on any of the local War Memorials either as Rollie or Gibson.

His medal card indicates he was presumed dead and that he had only been abroad for a matter of weeks.

The War Diaries for his regiment (accessed on the ancestry website) show that they sailed from Liverpool on the Aquitania on 3rd July 1915 having arrived by train from Milford the previous day. They were attacked by an enemy submarine the following day, A torpedo was fired but it missed.  They landed at Mudros Bay on the Island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea. On the 18th July they sailed to Kephalos camp on the island of Lemnos. They then were sent to Suvla Bay on the 19th August in Gallipoli where James was killed. Here is the entry for 19th August and the preceding few days.

His mother and two married sisters were beneficiaries.

soldiers' effects

Cumnock Connections tree

He is remembered on the Helles Memorial in Turkey.

Cumnock Chronicle, added Aug 2018

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Cpl Thomas Dunsmore

On one of her forays in Cumnock New Cemetery, Cumnock History Group member Morag Gordon spotted this memorial to Corporal Tom Dunsmore erected by his comrades. He doesn't feature on the War Memorial so more investigation required.

He was in the 1st/5th Battalion of the RSF as were many local men, my late father-in-law included.

He was born in Muirkirk about 1896 to William and Annie Dunsmore of 40 Springhill Terrace, Muirkirk.

He died of wounds in 57th Clearing Station in France on 2nd June 1918.

He had brothers William and Joseph and a sister Marion who all received a share of his war gratuity along with his father.

His CWGC record tells us he is buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension in France.

He is also remembered on a gravestone in Sorn Cemetery erected by Bill Harrison of Sorn and Indiana in memory of his family and three war buddies.

He is on Muirkirk War Memorial.

Here's the family on Cumnock Connections tree. His father was born in Cumnock.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Alexander brothers

I noticed that there was a gravestone in Cumnock new cemetery mentioning 2 men who aren't on the war memorial: Robert and William Alexander.

The parents are William Cochrane Alexander born in Fenwick in 1847. He was a gamekeeper. He died in Cumnock in 1911.
His wife Jane Muir was from Dumfries.
The sons were born in Dunure in the parish of Maybole.

William was the first to fall on the 19th March 1917 aged 25.

William was a private in the Gordon Highlanders.

He sent this photo to his cousin Miss Mary Alexander, 9 Union Avenue, Newton on Ayr, Scotland dated 20th June 1915.

Dear Mary,

This is the photo you wanted and I hope you are satisfied now.
Best love to all from Bill
Which one is Bill is unknown. Not the sergeant.

From Gayle Lee in Australia.

Here is what was reported in the Dumfries and Galloway Standard 28 March 1917

1901 census
Dalblair Cottage, Lugar
William Alexander 43 gamekeeper
Jane Alexander 47
Maryaret C Alexander 14
John M Alexander 11
William M C Alexander 9 b Maybole


This appears to be Robert in the
1901 census
Knockdollan, Colmonell
Robert Alexander 16 gamekeeper b Maybole

The older brother Robert was a company quartermaster sergeant in the ASC, and was mentioned in despatches.

His army service record survives. He enlisted in January 1915 in Blairgowrie. He was a gamekeeper in Drylack, Alyth. His mother was his next of kin. He was mentioned in despatches in the London Gazette on 14 Jun 1918 (a month after his death.) He died in Egypt on the 13th May 1918 from dysentery and is buried in Jerusalem War Cemetery.
D & G Standard 25 May 1918

Robert's entry on the CWGC

The family on Cumnock Connections tree

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

James R Paton

Another man on the plaque in the Congregational Church is Corporal James Robert Paton of the Royal Engineers.

He was the son of Andrew Paton J.P. and his wife Margaret Smith.

He was born in Auchinleck about 1893. His parents were from Galston. He was 24 and sin;ge when he died in Lewisham Military Hospital in London on 21st October 1916. He left a fair bit of money to his family.


1901 census
Main St Auchinleck
Andrew Paton 49 manager and grocer? wholesale provision
Margaret Paton 50
Lizzie Paton 21 shop assistant butcher
Jeanie Paton 19 teacher ex pupil
Andrew Paton 18 engineer mechanical app
Nellie Paton15
Agnes Paton 13
William Paton 11
James Paton 8

Photo by Kevan Aitken

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Robert T Harper

Another soldier remembered on the plaque in the Congregational Church in Auchinleck Road is Lance Corporal Robert T Harper

Photo by Kevan Aitken
Robert T Harper was the son of James Harper and Mary McAnespie of 4 Shiloh Terrace, Auchinleck.

Here is his CWGC record

He was 20 when he died in France in 1918. He served in the First Battalion the RSF.  He  is remembered on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial in France.

He had a brother Henry McAnespie Harper who served in the A.S.C. and survived.  Henry's service record survives. He was 19 years and 10 month when he enlisted in June 1915 as a motor driver. He was discharged in 1919.  He suffered from malaria.

Here is the Harper family on Cumnock Connections tree

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

James G Hastings

This plaque is in the Congregational Church, in Auchinleck Road, Cumnock

photo by Kevan Aitken

Able Seaman died of disease on board HMS Hyacinth. He was 21.

The CWG site  says he is buried in Dar es Salaam Cemetery in Tanzania

Name:James Hastings
Birth Date:6 Nov 1895
Branch of Service:Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Cause of Death:Died from disease
Official Number Port Division:Clyde Z/6139.
Death Date:21 Feb 1917
Ship or Unit:HMS Hyacinth
Location of Grave:28
Name and Address of Cemetery:Kilwa Kivingi Cemetery, East Africa
Relatives Notified and Address:Father: James Belleview Cottage, Auchinleck, Ayrshire

His father James Hastings was born in Thornhill, Dumfriesshire

1901 census
Greenside Place, Coal Road, Auchinleck
James Hastings 33 stone mason
Mary wife 36
Isabella A  dau 7
James son 5
Agnes G dau 1

Cumnock Connections tree

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Campbell Tanner

Cumnock born Campbell Tanner was a bugler in the RSF, was wounded at the Battle of Loos and transferred to the HLI. He was missing in action on the 11th April 1917. 
He worked at Highhouse Colliery.
He was the son of James Tanner and his wife Margaret McCartney, born at Tanyard Lane in Cumnock on 1st October 1889.

He is on Auchinleck War Memorial.

He is on the memorial in Cumnock St Andrew's Congegrational  Church.

picture by Kevan Aitken


Cumnock Connections tree

In July 2015 the Arras War Memorial was visited by relatives and a wreath placed in his honour.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Thomas Leckie

Thomas Leckie was born at Ayr Road in Cumnock on the 17th April 1895 to Thomas Leckie, coal miner and Mary Goldie (or Gold). He was a gunner in the RFA when he was killed in France on 15th November 1916. He was 21.

In the 1901 census the family is at Fleming St in Riccarton
ThomasLeckieHeadMarriedMale401861Coal MinerCumnock, Ayrshire,
MaryLeckieWifeMarriedFemale401861-Auchinleck, Ayrshire
JanetLeckieDaughterSingleFemale171884Hosiery KnitterAyrshire
SarahLeckieDaughterSingleFemale151886Hosiery KnitterNew Cumnock, Ayrshire 
GeorgeLeckieSon-Male131888Coal Miners DrawerNew Cumnock, Ayrshire
Georgina BLeckieDaughter-Female21899-Ayrshire

Cumnock Connections tree


He is remembered in the Guards' Cemetery, Lesboeufs in France.

Friday, 30 January 2015

William Crawford

William Henry Walters Crawford was born at Townhead in Cumnock on the 19th January 1879 to iron miner Angus McLeod Crawford and his wife Helen Bertram Walters.

His English born mother was from a family of entertainers.

By the 1881 census the family was living in Govan, Glasgow where Angus was working as a fitter, iron boat builder on the Clyde.

By 1891 his mother is a widow, working as a dressmaker in Gorbals. William is working as a telegraph messenger. (I don't think his mother was a widow in 1891 as her husband Angus is living was his sister-in-law Janet (Mrs Samuel Nicol) in 1901 census.)

In 1901 his mother is working as a theatrical costumier in London.

I understand from family members that Bill, as he was known, had various jobs in the theatre and worked with Charlie Chaplin and was in the same digs as him. Bill is second from the left in a barrister's costume.

When war broke out he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery. He died of wounds in France on 19 Dec 1916.


Son of Angus McLeod Crawford and Helen Walters Crawford, of 106, Nightingale Rd., Wood Green, London.
His war grave is in Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery in Estrée-Cauchy in France.

Cumnock Connections tree