A village school saw over 400 former pupils proudly go off to fight in the Great War. Now, 100 years later, present pupils have proudly completed a project to commemorate the committment to peace eight of their ‘local heroes’ made.
Laurieston Primary’s P6 class turned ‘detective’ to trace their history. They worked with Laura McDonald and Louise Tierney from the heritage learning team at Callander House, sourced the archives of The Falkirk Herald and studied an album of photographs and notes carefully compiled by former headmaster Mr James Mather which recorded the details of those he had taught who had gone to the trenches, those who had come home and those who had not.
Principal teacher Carol Fraser said: “This was a fascinating project the pupils really enjoyed being involved in. The records kept by Mr Mather were very detailed and we’re proud to have his original school logbooks beginning in 1896 still here with us in the school.”
The youngsters learned about the three Reilly brothers who fought at the front, Alexander and James with the Royal Scots and Robert with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
They were iron moulders at Laurieston Iron Works and Alexander and James lived with their sister, Mrs Mary Chalmers, at 23 Mary Street. Alexander, the oldest sibling, joined the Royal Scots in September 1914, James followed him to France a month later and Robert, the third son of Robert and Mary Campbell Reilly, of Dundas Crescent, Laurieston, was shipped overseas with the Argylls the following year.
Private Robert Reilly died of his wounds in October 1916 and Lance Corporal James Reilly M.M. was killed in action in March 1918. Robert survived the conflict and returned home safely.
John Sime, also from Mary Street, volunteered for the Territorial Army four months before war was declared and served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Private Sime was injured at the second Battle of Ypres in Belgium on May 8, 1915, and died from his wounds two days later at the age of 20.
Private Donald McIntyre from Fortingall Place saw action with the Black Watch and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. He gave a talk about his experiences to his old school in August 1918 as did Second Lieutenant John R. Wardrope, Oakley House, Laurieston, in November 1917. He served with the Argylls in France and Belgium and was awarded the Military Cross after being wounded in action at Ypres in December 1914 and invalided home.