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.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Adam Begg

Adam Begg was born in Lugar on the 16th February 1885.

Photos from Paul Eedle

He married Mary Kelly on New Year's Day in 1909 in Girvan when he was a baker's van driver and sailed to  St John New Brunswick, Canada on 2 March 1912 on the Saturnia. He was a van man planning to take up farming.

With war looming he returned to Ayrshire in August 1914 on the Letitia. He was an engine driver. 

He enlisted in the Ayrshire Yeomanry in 12 October 1914.

Adam Begg served in the Ayrshire Yeomanry, which landed at Helles Bay in Gallipoli on 11 October 1915, some time after the disastrous initial landings in April. His service record shows that he was discharged because of 'wounds' on 10 April 1916.

He died in Reading in 1957.

His younger brother James Begg died in Palestine.

Friday, 3 November 2017

James or John McKie DCM

I can't work out who this man is.

Medal Roll card say James McKie but John Hutson refers to him as John McKie of Glengyron. Wondered if it could be John McKay of Glengyron but he has a different regimental number; 240110, although also in the 1/5th RSF.  Maybe John Hutson is muddling the two up. JohnMcKay had the MM.

Would be good to know more about him!

John Hutson memoirs

Friday, 6 October 2017

George Hyslop MM

George Hyslop was born in 1893 in Cumnock to Robert Hyslop and Annie Miller.

He was in the 7th RSF first before transferring to Royal Engineers, Tunnelling Section.

His brother Robert's death here

Here are the 3 brothers among a list of Cumnock men who had enlisted by 1916 printed in the Chronicle.

Hyslop George Private 7th Royal Scots Fusiliers
Hyslop James Private 5th Royal Scots Fusiliers
Hyslop Robert Private 7th Royal Scots Fusiliers

Cumnock Chronicle

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Dr Robert D Goldie

Robert Dunlop Goldie was born on 4 May 1887 in Cumnock, the son of John Goldie the draper's in the Square.

He graduated as a doctor (MB) from Glasgow University in 1908.

Captain Robert D Goldie
Rank: Captain
Regiment: Royal Army Medical Corps - Special Reserve
Degree: MB ChB
Awards: French Medaille D'honneur

He was a Captain in the RAMC

In 1916  he was awarded the Medal of Honour from the Mayor of Corbie in France for devotion to duty regarding contagious diseases in and around Corbie.

After the war he emigrated to Corrimal then Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia where he worked as a doctor.

He died on 1st March 1952

Cumnock Connections tree

His death was reported in the
Illawarra Daily Mercury (Wollongong, NSW) in the edition of 3rd March 1952, accessed via Trove

Friday, 8 September 2017

David Ritchie Arthur

David Arthur was a saddler born in Cumnock in 1871.

He married widow Eliza Cockcroft in 1899 in Leeds.

He had previously served 4 years in the Royal Scots Fusiliers when he signed up for the Yeomanry in 1914. He was 43 which was unusually old for a volunteer.  He was 5 ft 4 with grey eyes and brown hair. He was promoted to sergeant.

However was invalided out of the army in 1916. His address on his pension record was 91 South Harbour St., Ayr.

 He died at 29 New Street in Riccarton on 1 November 1918 of phtisus pulmonalis (TB) according to his death certificate.

Cumnock Connections tree

Friday, 1 September 2017

Samson brothers

John Samson and Alexander Kerr Samson were sons of Alexander Samson and Elizabeth Richmond.

John was born in Cumnock in 1873 and was employed in the Post Office. His service record survives. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers as a telegraphist.  He was 44 years old when he enlisted in July 1918 which was considerably older than average. He was a gifted telegraphist. His address was Pitlochry Cottage in Glaisnock Street. He was married to Agnes Dow and had several children.

His brother Alexander Kerr  Samson also enlisted in the Royal Engineers (No. 420406)  in 1915.  His service papers survive. Born in Cumnock in 1881 he was 34 and a booking clerk for SW Railway , living at 7 Montgomery Street in Irvine.  He married Susan Ward in Irvine in January 1916. He sailed to France from Southampton in October 1916.  He had 8 days in hospital in 1918.  He was awarded the Good Conduct Badge in March 1918. He was variously described as very good, proficient and skilled as a clerk. His pay doubled from 6d (sixpence)  a day to a shilling when he passed a proficiency test.

Their brother Robert Richmond Samson was also  in the Royal Engineers.
Happily all three survived the war.

Cumnock Connections tree

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

George Begg

It was reported in the Ayr advertiser in 1916 that George Begg of Cumnock had recently returned from South Africa was to take up a post in the Royal Engineers.

He the son of George Begg and Margaret Tannahill of Greenbank and the brother of James McGee Begg.

In December 1917,  reported in the Scotsman, he was admitted as a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

He rose to the rank of Captain. 

After the war he appears to have returned to South Africa as there are records of his journeys in 1935 and 1938 accompanied by his wife Rabie!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

James Hamilton Dick MC and Kenneth Sage Dick

James Hamilton Dick was born in Hamilton in 1895. His brother Kenneth was 3 years his junior.
His father John Dick was a teacher at Cumnock School. Latterly he lived at Linwood, Holmside until his death in 1932. By then he was Academy Rector.

1901 census
Oakland Cottage, Cumnock
John Dick 36 schoolmaster
Agnes Dick 36
John Dick 7
James H Dick 6
Kenneth S Dick 3
Lizzie Laurie 15 dom servant  (BTW sister of John Laurie MM)
All born Hamilton except Lizzie

Some background information on James, though I haven't made a note of where I found this.

Both James and brother Kenneth were promoted to second lieutenants in 1915. And both served with the Scottish Mounted Field Ambulance Brigade
London Gazette, 

This is his citation for the Military Cross

Happily both brothers survived the war and became doctors in England.
In 1925 they were still in  Cumnock according to the Medical Directory.

The family on Cumnock Connections tree

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Margaret Ramage Thorburn Gardner

Margaret Thorburn was born in Skares on the 15th May 1885, the daughter of William Thorburn and Elizabeth Burnside.

She married Robert Gardner of Kirkconnel in 1908. They had 2 children under 12 when she enrolled in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps on 8 May 1918. She was 32 years old.

I was able to download her application from the National Archives for a small fee.

She was just over 5 ft tall and weighed 111lbs.   Her address was 100 Prestwick Road, Ayr and she gave her father William Thorburn, 128 Skares as her next of kin. She was working as an assistant. waitress. She was given the option to serve abroad or at home and she chose unsurprisingly home.

She had to submit references! She was educated at Garallan school 'til the age of 14. John B Wilson her former teacher gave her a reference. As did Mrs Mary Urquhart of 32 North Park Avenue, Ayr , the wife of a blacksmith with whom Margaret had been employed as a metal machinist. She had also been employed before her marriage by Mr D Thomson Auchinleck Road, Cumnock as a table maid and by Dr Roxburgh of Troon.

After training in Edinburgh, she was posted to Gailes Camp nr Irvine.

There is no further detail of her service.

The family emigrated to the USA and she died in San Francisco in 1954.

Cumnock Connections tree

Sunday, 6 August 2017

John Mckay MM

John McKay was born on the 9th December 1895 in Glengyron Row.
(I have a particular interest in him since his grandmother is Elizabeth McMeekin, making him a half first cousin once removed of my husband)

Supplement to London Gazette 23 Jul 1919,  Establishes that John McKay 240110 was from Cumnock.

Cumnock Chronicle Jan 1919

His service record does not survive but his medal roll card strangely does not mention MM.

But Ancestry assures me he was awarded it!
John McKay
Regimental Number240110
RegimentRoyal Scots Fusiliers
Battalion1/5th Battalion
MedalsMilitary Medal
Other RecordsJohn McKay - RoyalScotsFusiliers 240110

John married Jeanie Agnew Wilson in 1921 and died in Cumnock in 1980

John McKay on Cumnock Connections tree

Saturday, 5 August 2017

John Laurie MM

Born in Cumnock in 1887  John Laurie's Military Medal was announced in the Cumnock Chronicle of 3 May 1918.

He was the son of John Laurie a railway porter at the "old" station in Barrhill Road and Agnes Samson.

Son John also worked for the railway but was a fireman at Berryhill pit when he signed up in the Seaforth Highlanders (S/4001).  He was a Signaller Sergeant.

Cumnock Chronicle 3 May 1918

also in 1918
Found by Bobby Grierson, added Sep 2018

Medal Roll Card
He married Agnes Johnstone in 1919 and died at Gateside Cottage in Auchinleck on 21st August 1962. Was this the same Gateside Cottage his parents lived in in 1918?

Cumnock Connections tree 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Hamish Weir Samson MC the soldier who returned from the dead

Hamish Weir Samson was born James Weir Samson on 8th February 1896 in Craigston Square in Lugar the son of John Samson a colliery salesman and Catherine Oliver.

His mother  died in 1903 and his father remarried in 1906 in Derby. By 1911 he was attending a private school in London.

By 1915 his father was a managing partner of Sanquhar and Kirkconnel Collieries and they were living at Burnfoot in Sanquhar.   They also appear to have lived in Glaisnock House in Cumnock in 1917.

He was a Lieutenant at Arras and went missing presumed dead. But in fact he was wounded and a POW in Germany (more info in the links below).

His father was so grateful to have him returned that he donated a large sum to St Bride's Church in Sanquhar.

John Samson died at Norwood in Downhill, Glasgow in 1920. He also had  an address of Glaisnock House and Hamish was an engineer and died in1971 in Hove, Sussex.
Samson family on Cumnock Connections tree.

POW record
H W Samson
Regiment6th Battalion. K.O. Scottish Borderers
Date Missing3 May 1917
Repatriation Date2 Dec 1918
NotesAttached from Royal Scots.
Record Number2237

Lots of articles appeared on the 3rd of May the anniversary of his supposed demise.

Church of Scotland article with gravestone

ITV with photo of him outside St Bride's Church ca 1917

BBC article

Herald article

Friday, 3 February 2017

John Girvan, Australians

I found this clipping in the Cumnock Chronicle of 3 May 1918 and spent some hours trying to work out who these people were.

It was easy enough to find the fallen soldier using though his full name is William John Girvan.  He died on 2nd April 1918. There was further helpful information on his parents (John and Mary) and his birthplace and his age, 25. I looked for him on ancestry and found his birth.

Strangely there is a William John Girvan living in Waterside Place in 1881 (where Mrs John Cree is in 1918) but he is much older and the family seems to have gone on to Canada. So that seem to be a coincidence.

Other family trees suggest his mother Mary Allan is daughter of James Allan and Mary Archibald and I treat this with suspicion until I find that John Girvan and Mary Allan had a daughter Mary Archibald Girvan born in Maybole. (Scottish naming patterns can be very helpful)  The later children were born in Australia and Mary Archibald Girvan is in Australia too.

Now to look at Mrs John Cree in Waterside Place. There are 2 John Crees in the 1911 census in Cumnock and neither is in Waterside Place. John Cree a baker married Mary Catherine Peden of Ochiltree. Her mother Annie I can see in the censuses was born in Lamlash. This rang a bell as I had seen an Annie Allan born in Lamlash, already a sister of Mary Allan. Yes, her mother is Annie McCulloch Allan (named after James Allan's mother)  so Mary Catherine Peden  is the cousin of Corporal John Girvan.

The Chronicle has him as John Girvan. His family say he was known as Jack.

Allan family on the tree

His service record (74 pages) can be downloaded.  Click on View Digital Copy top right.  He enlisted on 1 March 1915 and his occupation was a labourer, He had trained as a barber for a year. He was 5 ft 5 and a half inches tall, had dark hair and eyes. He had been wounded three times previously, shot in the head, ear and leg. . After one of these hospital stays in England he was on furlough in January 1017 which is probably when he visited Cumnock. He served first in the Dardanelles and then France. He was promoted to Corporal on 5th June 1917.  He was badly wounded on 1st April with gunshot would to thighs causing a fracture and arm and back in Belgium. He died at the 5th Australian Field Ambulance the following day. (This doesn't quite tally with the newspaper report above). There is correspondence with his mother regarding his medals and war grave. All very sad reading.

Update 22 April 2018: The family in Australia has been in contact and have been to his graveside on the centenary of his death.

Great great grand nephew Malcolm Maurer writes:
Last night as we arrived in Brisbane, soil from William's grave was declared and treated with nothing less than honour and respect by Australian Customs.

In France Rod, Vanessa and I joined Meredith and Erin, touring the Western Front  as we prepared for the 100th anniversary of William's death.

Nothing could prepare me for the overwhelming emotion of the magnitude of sacrifices for our freedom.

Walking through fields in No Man's Land and finding live ammunition and items of war 100 years after thousands of men on both sides died in so many fields.

We walked as close as possible the final steps of William, as we made our way to his grave. Locating the clearing station that he was treated in before he died.

Arriving at Pont-D'Achelles Military Cemetery, I new where William was as I walked up the steps entering the cemetery.

I walked every row reading each name, then I stopped, paused and continued as I read William's headstone. Returning to his grave once I read each headstone.

Family from Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth honoured William's sacrifice in a private family service.

Given to us by our tour guide, I read the attached for the first time at his grave.

As each family member removed soil from his grave, we replaced it with flowering plants including a poppy.

A small gesture to reunite a mother and son, the soil will be interned into his mother's grave at a later date.

It was overwhelming knowing that in spirit he was home in Australia.

We will remember.

Previously the plan to visit was published in the Cumnock Chronicle in May 2017 in which we get a mention.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Robert Shankland V.C.

I have found a Cumnock Connection to a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest British military honour, Robert Shankland.

Robert was born in Ayr on 10 October 1887 to William Shankland, a railway porter later a guard, from Durrisdeer and Jane McCririck of Cumnock who had worked for the Boswells of Garrallan for at least 10 years before her marriage.

Daily Record 20 December 1917

Robert emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada in 1911 on the Sicilian.

He enlisted in Canada on 18 Dec 1914.

He was awarded both the DCM and the VC. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for Passchendaele on 26 Oct 1917.

With King George V and Queen Mary

He was given the freedom  of the Burgh of Ayr.

Daily Record 02 January 1918

He married Annie Stobo Haining in Prestwick in 1920 and by 1921 they were back in Winnipeg.  He died in 1968 in Vancouver.

His VC was put up for sale in 2009 but happily was purchased for  $240,000  by the Imperial War Museum of Canada.


The Canadian Encyclopaedia

He died in Vancouver in 1968.

Cumnock Connections tree

Monday, 16 January 2017

John Hamilton

I now believe that this John Hamilton is the one referred to on Cumnock War Memorial and that the one I wrote about in 2014 here is on New Cumnock War Memorial.

I spotted the announcement of his death in the Cumnock Chronicle.

At Stobhill Hospital on 11th May 1917 as a result of wounds received in France on 18th Oct 1914 JOHN HAMILTON, RSF, husband of JEANIE MILLER, Roseburn Row.

His pension record survives.

He had been serving in the Territorials for 6 years when he enlisted in 1914.

He had blue eyes and brown hair and was 5 ft 4 in.

He was mobilised in August 1914. He was with the Expeditionary Force in France from 11 Sep to 20 October and at Home from 21 Oct until he was discharged unfit on the 2nd February 1916.
He received a gunshot wound (severe) to the back on 19th October 1914. All of which fits in with the notice.  The bullet seems to have pierced his bladder causing major problems and ultimately most likely his death, see below.

Family members are his wife Jane 7 Garrallan Row
Mother Jane Hamilton 45 High St Ayr
Younger brother Hugh, Drongan, Ayrshire
Children Margaret born Bellshill
twins Harriet & Jane born Old Cumnock

His pension records suggest he was born about 1888 in Calton, Glasgow. And his marriage certificate gives his mother as Jane Scott and father John Hamilton deceased.

His mother seems to be Jane Hamilton who married Cochrane Scott in 1885.  We have as yet been unable to find his birth certificate.

His death record gives cause of death as calculus in bladder (bladder stones), abcess in pelvis, suprapubic cystostomy (catheter) shock. He was 29.

Cumnock Connections tree

He doesn't appear on the Commonwealth Grave Commission's site, presumably as he had been discharged already from the army. Seems harsh.