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.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Woolf Slonimsky

Woolf Slonimsky was born in Main St, Glasgow on 18th November 1894 to Joel Slonimsky and his wife Lena Dunetz. Joel was living in Cumnock at the time and soon the whole family was settled there where the parents had fled from Slonim in Belarus in 1888.

Father Joel built up a very successful draper's business after starting as a travelling draper, going to door to door.

Woolf or William as he was known enlisted in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and was promoted to Corporal.
Regimental Number: O21544

He survived the war and was involved in the family business in Ayr Road. They branched into furniture.

1915 Cumnock Chronicle

Much later perhaps in the 1930s the family adopted the name Sloane and the family continues to trade in Glaisnock Street.

Cumnock Connections tree

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

James Gourlay MM

James Gourlay was born on 7th February  1898 in Glengyron Row to James Gourlay and Mary Nicol.
He had sisters Bridget and Sarah. His mother had died in 1903. He was only 19 when he died on 16th June 1917.  He won the Military Medal the previous year. His father latterly lived in Tower St, Cumnock.


Service Number 17082

Died 16/06/1917

2nd Bn.
Royal Scots Fusiliers


Cumnock Connections

died of wounds

He is a cousin of John Nicol who also died.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Thomas Baillie

Thomas Baillie was born on 24 October 1890 at 463 Lugar to coal miner Thomas Baillie and his wife Martha Bradford. He was baptised in Lugar church on 4th March 1894 along with his older sisters Margaret and Mary.

He served with the 1/5th Royals Scots Fusiliers and  was killed in action on 2 Oct 1918

He is buried at Masnieres British Cemetery in  Marcoing, France,
Private 203733 Royal Scots Fusiliers

On Cumnock Connections tree

He is remembered on Lugar War Memorial.

He was a player with Lugar Boswell

John Dinwoodie

Cumnock born John Dinwoodie died in France just 20 years old.

John Dinwoodie
Private 202629 
KIA 4 Oct 1917 Belgium
born Glaisnock,Old Cumnock 2 Sep 1897 
die F & F 4 Oct 1917

enlisted at Ayr
next of kin father John
residence is Dunaskin

1901 census
Dalpharson Dalmellington
John Dinwoodie 30 gamekeeper born Durisdeer
Elizabeth Dinwoodie 34 b Sanquhar
George Dinwoodie 12 b Sanquhar
Betty Dinwoodie b Sanquhar
Mary Dinwoodie 5 b New Cumnock
John Dinwoodie 3 b Old Cumnock
Thomas Dinwoodie 1 b Dalmellington

On Cumnock Connections tree

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Thomas McGee

Thomas McGee was born in 1871 in Johnstone, Renfrewshire and the family moved to Cumnock about 1901/2.

He had been a regular soldier in the KOSB in the African wars

At the outset of WW1 he was recalled and served in France.

He worked latterly as a chimney sweep. He was also the Town Crier.

Thomas McGee on the Cumnock Connections tree

Both Tom and his sons James and Tom all served and came through WW1 but not without incident.

Cumnock Chronicle 1915

Cumnock Chronicle 1916

Cumnock Chronicle 1918

Add caption

This is the father and  Reg no. 7024
Thomas Mc GHEE
Gender: Male
Rank: Pte
Birth Date: 1871
Residence Place: Cumnock Ayrshire
Military Service Region: Scotland, Scotland
Discharge Date: 27 May 1918
Service Number: 7024
Regiment: Rl. Scots Fusiliers
Title: Pension Record Cards

and this is the son
Thomas McGee
Military Year:1914-1915
Medal Awarded:1914-15 Star
Regiment or Corps:Royal Scots Fusiliers
Regimental Number:7036
Sub Unit:1/5th Battalion

Thursday, 11 October 2018

William G Park

William George Park was born in Cumnock in 1893 to miner James Park and Margaret Bicket. By WW1 the family had moved to Newtongrange, Midlothian.

Cumnock Connections tree


Robert Gibson

Robert Gibson was born in 1893 in Dunscore Dumfriesshire and died on 2 May 1917. He served in the 11th Battalion, the Royal Scots, Service Number 40169.

Cumnock Chronicle

Robert Gibson on the Cumnock Connections tree

His entry on CWGC

James Miller

James Miller was born on 30 Sep 1895 at Hillcrest in Maybole, the son of James Miller a draper and later Provost of Maybole and Maggie Nimmo. He died France and Flanders on 16 May 1917.

His grandfather also a James Miller was a mineral borer in Cumnock employing 18 men in 1881.

Cumnock Chronicle

The Glasgow Herald, Monday, 28th May, 1917
Deaths on Service.
MILLER.- Died on the 16th inst., from wounds received in action, Corporal James Miller, Despatch Rider, aged 21 years, only son of Provost Miller and Mrs Miller, Maybole, and grandson of the late James Miller, mineral borer, Cumnock.
Cumnock Connections tree
Surname MILLER
Forename James
Rank  Cpl
Service number 142863
Place of birth Maybole Ayrshire
Date of death 16 May 1917
Theatre of death F&F
Cause of death Died of wounds.
Unit name Unknown Unit attached to THE ROYAL ENGINEERS
Other detail 51st Signal Coy.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The impact of war on Cumnock

Cumnock was much smaller 100 years ago than it is now. (See map) None of the housing schemes existed. Landward communities such as Skares were big communities with miners' rows and farm workers cottages.  Families were large, with as many as 13 children in the case of Montgomery Davidson. People knew their neighbours, worked beside them and socialised with them.

When war broke out, young men flocked to enlist from September 1914. They had to be between 19 - 41. They had to be 19 to be sent to the front. New regiments were created to accommodate them.  Many went along with their pals and workmates to enlist in the same regiment on the same day. This had advantages in that the lads would have the support of their friends when away from home mostly for the first time in their lives. However losses were high and often a whole unit would be wiped out so they would die alongside their friends. 

Volunteers were keen to go and do their bit and the word was that it would be all over by Christmas. Being a soldier in the past wasn't so bad. You got paid, fed, clothed, billeted, saw the world, got away from your strict father, had some fun, got a pension when your term was up. 

This war was different from anything previous to it. It was warfare on an industrial scale with new weapons such as tanks, submarines, planes, chemical warfare (gas). 

It was called the Great War (latterly World War One) because eventually 32 countries were taking part and the losses were so high. 

Fighting took place in many places France and Flanders (Belgium), The Balkans (Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece), Palestine, Egypt, Gallipoli (in Greece). The south east of England came under attack from ships and planes but the war didn't impinge on Cumnock.

By February of 1916 Britain was so short of soldiers that conscription was introduced. That meant that all able bodied men from 18-51 apart from ministers of religion were called up. 

At home women organised support for the war effort. Much fundraising: flag days, concerts, bazaars, was done and knitting of socks, hats and gloves to send to the lads. At Christmas they made up boxes with a variety of practical items including food and cigarettes. There were donations of eggs from local farms to go to wounded soldiers. There were shortages of food at home with German U boats or submarines sinking ships bringing vital supplies such as wheat to make bread from America and elsewhere. 

Families were informed of the loss of a son by a telegram followed by a letter from the commanding officer and maybe from comrades or other local lads in the same regiment. In many cases, men were blown to bits and no body was found. In this case it might be a year before the were officially listed as dead, a time of anguish for families who hoped against hope that their lad had escaped or had been taken prisoner. Few families in Cumnock did not lose a family member or a neighbour in the war. Montgomery Davidson lost 3 of his 7 sons all of whom were in the army, the "colours".

Not all those who died were shot or blown up. Many died of illnesses such as dysentery, malaria, fevers, pneumonia, illnesses that are are now curable with antibiotics. Many of those who survived bore the scars, mental and physical for the rest of their lives. Many lost limbs, were blinded or suffered from what we now call PTSD.

After the Armistice on 11 November 1918 there was still sporadic fighting. It took a year for men to get home.

A Welcome Home Dance took place in Cumnock Town Hall on 10th December 1919 to which all returning solders and their wives were invited. They were presented with the Cumnock Parish Medal made of enamelled silver with their names inscribed. Men who had fallen were awarded a medal with a different inscription.

The War Memorial with 117 names was erected in the new cemetery in Glaisnock Street in 1921.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Hugh Woodburn Guthrie

Hugh Woodburn Guthrie was born in Cumnock in 1898 to John Guthrie and Elizabeth McTaggart  but by 1901 the family was in Glasgow.

His parents predeceased him and his effects went to his sister Mary, Mrs Thomas McGeoch.

Name:Hugh Guthrie
Birth Place:Old Cumnock, Ayrshire
Death Date:29 Sep 1918
Death Place:France and Flanders
Enlistment Place:Glasgow
Regiment:Highland Light Infantry
Battalion:9th (Glasgow Highland) Battalion (Territorial)
Regimental Number:40415
Type of Casualty:Killed in action
Theatre of War:Western European Theatre
Comments:Formerly 2108, Scot. Bord.

Henry Kinnear

Henry was  born in Lugar in 1886, the son of Henry Kinnear a baker and his wife Margaret Forrest.

In 1901 he was a grocer's assistant living with his parents at 91 and 92 Back Row Lugar but he is not with his parents in 1911 in Lugar or anywhere else  in Scotland in 1911. Presumably he has gone to South Africa.


Service Number 16033

Died 10/10/1918

Aged 32

4th Regt.
South African Infantry

Son of Mr. H. and Mrs. M. Kinnear, of 21, Victoria Place, Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

He is remembered on Lugar War Memorial although no Kinnears are still there post war.

Niven Withers

Niven Withers was born in 1891 in Kirkcolm, Wigtownshire. By the start of WW1 he was in Mossblown.

Neven Withers - RoyalScotsFusiliers 34958 [Niven Withers]

He was discharged from the army on health grounds in August 1917. His acute nephritis was attributed to his active service in France, exposure and stress. 

He married Sarah Campbell in 1918

He died in hospital in 1926 age 35 of diabetes mellitus. His usual address was 3 New Bridge St Cumnock.

On Cumnock Connections tree

Thomas Connell

Thomas Boyd Connell was the son of David Connell the printer in Cumnock and his wife Grace Bowman Brown. He was born on the 18th Feb 1892 in Cumnock.

on Cumnock Connections tree

He was in Strathcona, Alberta age 19 in 1911 census of Canada

He married Nellie Cliff in Medicine Hat in 1921 and by 1931 they had Helen,  David and George when they were home on a visit.

He died at Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada on 12 Oct 1938.

Thomas Connor

Born in Kilmarnock about 1887 the son of Bernard Connor and Mary Orr, he was in Ayrshire Yeomanry and then the Highland Light Infantry

They family lived in Mauchline by 1891

Thomas had been employed on a fish van but was a chauffeur at the Dumfries Arms Garage when in went to war.

He died on the 31st July 1917 in France.

Cumnock Chronicle 1917

Highland Light Infantry
12th (Service) Battn
Regimental Number
Type of Casualty
Killed in action
Theatre of War
Western European Theatre
Formerly 2535, Ayrshire Yeo.
Other Records
Thomas Connor - HighlandLightInfantry 43409

Capt. Robert E Angus

Captain Robert Edward Angus was born on the 27th May 1894 at Radcliffe in Northumberland.
"Best pilot in the squadron"

Died 20/11/1917

Aged 23

64th Sqdn.
Royal Flying Corps

Ayrshire Yeomanry

Son of James Angus and Elizabeth Angus, of Ochiltree, Ayrshire.