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.

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.