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.

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 Great War and Cumnock

Cumnock was much smaller 100 years ago than it is now. 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. People knew their neighbours, worked beside them and socialised with them.

Cumnock in 1919

At the outbreak of the Great War on 28 July 1914, the inhabitants of Cumnock went about their everyday business – there was no mention of the commencement of war in the Cumnock Chronicle. Like most places in Britain not much attention was paid to the war as people were told “… it will be all over by Christmas.”

Cumnock in 1914

This war was different from any previous war. It was warfare on an industrial scale with new weapons such as tanks, submarines, planes and chemical gas warfare. Eventually 32 countries took part and the losses were very high. Fighting took place in many places including France, Belgium, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Palestine and Egypt. The south east of England came under attack from ships and planes but the war didn’t impinge on Cumnock.

Many men in Cumnock were eager to volunteer for the armed forces. The 2 local regiments being the Royal Scots Fusiliers and Ayrshire Yeomanry, but many young men who were mostly single, miners or farm labourers enlisted in regiments from all over Scotland and further afield. Cumnock women were not far behind in signing up for war work, mainly with the Scottish Women’s Hospital, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

By February 1916 when the grim reality of the war hit home, Britain was so short of soldiers that conscription was introduced. Some professions were exempt such as clergymen and teachers. Reserved occupations included miners but many had already volunteered. Enlistees had to be 19 to be sent to fight abroad but many signed up at a younger age and were put into training only to be sent abroad as soon as they were old enough.

Royal Engineers

At home women and men organised support for the war effort through fundraising at flag days, concerts, bazaars etc. Work Parties were formed and these knitted ‘comforts’ - socks, hats, scarves and gloves which were sent to the front. At Christmas they made up gift boxes with a variety of practical items including food and cigarettes. There were donations of eggs from local farms to go to wounded soldiers in hospitals. There were shortages of food at home with German submarines sinking ships bringing vital supplies - times were hard both at home and on the front.

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 men in the same regiment. In many cases, men were blown to bits and no body was found. In some cases it might be a year before they were officially listed as dead, a time of anguish for families who hoped against hope that their man had escaped or had been taken prisoner. Few families in Cumnock escaped losing a family member or a neighbour in the war.

Not all those who died were shot or blown up. Many died of illnesses such as dysentery, malaria, fevers, pneumonia, illnesses that are now treatable with modern drugs such as 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 post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Scotland’s contribution to the British Armed Forces was considerable with the country sending over 690,000 men to war. World War One would last 1,566 days and would take over eight and a half million lives.

By the time the armistice was signed in November 1918 estimates for Scotland conclude that 74,000 never returned home, either killed in action or succumbing to disease, while a further 150,000 were seriously wounded. The impact of this devastating loss of life was felt the length and breadth of the country, and today almost every village and town in Scotland has its own memorial to those who died. It is difficult nowadays to realise what this meant for families living in Cumnock where 662 Cumnock men enlisted and 117 never came home.

Germany had formally surrendered on November 11 1918, and all nations had agreed to stop fighting while the terms of peace were negotiated. After the armistice there was still sporadic fighting and it took a year for some men to get home. On June 28 1919, Germany and the Allied Nations, including Britain, France, Italy and Russia, signed the Treaty of Versailles, formally ending the war. 

Original Welcome Home Dance invitation 1919

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. The families of 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.

Further information by courtesy of Bobby Guthrie February 2020.
By 1887 his father John Guthrie is living at Barrhill Road, as a coal miner. in 1891 the family is in Greenock where he works as an assurance agent. The family returns to Barrhill Road, working as a life assurance agent. It is here Hugh Woodburn Guthrie is born. In 1901 census the family are living in Kelvinside, Milton, Glasgow with John working as boot shoe traveller. He dies the following year at that address, a Draper traveller. His wife Elizabeth dies in 1906, Garscube road, Glasgow. 
Hugh Woodburn Guthrie is now orphaned aged 8 years old. In the 1911 census he and a sister are living at Govanhill, Glasgow with his older brother John and his wife. John is a baker (he was born at Townhead, Cumnock 1883) John is at Govanhill in the 1915 and 1920 Valuation rolls. Hugh's sister Mary (born Waterside Place, Cumnock) married Thomas McGeoch. The couple are living at Govanhill with brother Robert (born Barrhill, 1887) as a boarder. It was Mary that got Hugh's effects following his death at Flanders 1918. I wonder if he was the living with his sister when he signed up?

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.