Seeking Grangemouth memories of 7th and 8th Scottish Rifles

A postcard sent home featuring the 7th Scottish Rifles who were stationed in Grangmouth
A postcard sent home featuring the 7th Scottish Rifles who were stationed in Grangmouth

Too few of the young men of the 7th and 8th Territorial Battalions of the Scottish Rifles Regiment (Cameronians) returned when they were sent to Gillipoli in May 1915.

On June 28, they took part in the Battle of Gully Ravine and suffered such high casualty numbers, particularly officers, that they had to form a composite battalion for the remainder of the campaign.

The 7th Batallion took part in a bowls tournament in Grangemouth

The 7th Batallion took part in a bowls tournament in Grangemouth

The young men who took part in the campaign had lived for the months leading up to the departure locally – the 7th SR in Grangemouth and the 8th SR in Falkirk.

Their story has not been forgotten; the people of Grangemouth erected a plaque to the 7th Scottish Rifles in the foyer of the town hall after the war.

And the Falkirk-based battalion were remembered in a book, ‘With the 8th Scottish Rifles’ by Colonel J M Findlay, which covers the time they spent preparing for service abroad.

But the great-nephew of one of the young men of the 7th Scottish Rifles who died in Gallipoli would love to know more about the time the men spent in the town.

Alastair Cuthbert has several tantalising scraps of information about his great-uncle’s campaign but he is keen to know more.

He said: “I am really keen to get material that may still be held by people and families in scrap books, family histories and company records/collections which would otherwise be lost as a central record.”

The men were billeted in various halls around the town, while officers lived in people’s homes between August 1914 and May 1915, so Alastair believes they were a real part of the community.

One of the pictures he has found is of a bowls game played by the soldiers against the local bowling club in Grangemouth.

Alastair, who is studying for a Masters and hopes to do a PhD and write a book, was inspired when he came across an old family bible.

“It was just in a corner, gathering dust but I realised that in the middle of it was a family tree going back three generations,” he said.

“I discovered my mum’s brother, Lieutenant Daniel Taylor, had fought at Gallipoli and been killed.

“I knew nothing about it, I thought it was all Australians and New Zealanders who had been killed there.”

His interest brought him on a visit to Grangemouth and Falkirk last year, where he visited the library and Grangemouth Heritage Centre as well as the archives in Callendar House.

But he believes there may be more material out there that would give a more in-depth, rounded picture of the lives the men led.

For their time here was not without incident.

Alastair explained: “The 7th Scottish Rifles shot dead a council worker one night who was in the park across from Abbotsgrange Church.

“He was partially deaf so did not respond to the shouted challenges prior to them opening fire.

“He was keeping an eye on the high water levels overnight after heavy rain which was threatening to flood the area.

“The soldiers were on high alert after youths took some shots at them from the park as a joke hours earlier.

“In the cemetery, there is a large gravestone to the man who was shot – paid for by the regiment.”

In his own family’s collection, Alastair has a postcard sent home by his great-uncle, who was just 20 years old. In it, Dan refers to his younger sister Jessie Taylor, Alastair’s grandmother.

The photograph was taken inside the small meeting room at the rear of what is now Abbotsgrange Church in Grangemouth, but then called Kerse Church.

If anyone has old diaries, letters, photographs or any memorabilia Alistair would love to hear from you. Email him at ajcuthbert4679@aol.co.uk.