WW1: Falkirk men who ‘shall grow not old’

The book remembers the men from the churches who fought and died in the trenches
The book remembers the men from the churches who fought and died in the trenches

Memorials across the district ensure that the men from the Falkirk area will never be forgotten for their ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.

The 100th anniversary of the 1914-1918 conflict has also inspired many people to record and remember forever the precious lives of those who never returned from the muddy trenches where the bloody battles raged.

“War does not select its victims; it kills indiscriminately.”

These words feature in the book, ‘They Shall Grow Not Old’, published this year to give an insight into the backgrounds of the men honoured on the memorials of the Falkirk Parish and Erskine churches.

It was studiously researched and compiled for the congregation by Bill Mitchell, Winnie McPherson, Ellen Hamilton and Bill Laurie and features details of the stories of the lives and deaths of ordinary Falkirk men from all walks of life – those who were joiners, labourers, sons of solicitors or engineering students.

In the foreword, Rev. Robert S T Allan, minister of Falkirk Trinity Church, said: “War is never a first option, always a last. We wish wars had never taken place and still today the world is sadly slow to learn the lessons of the past.”

Lives like those of brothers Charles and James Bryce of the 7th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and Black Watch 1st Battalion respectively, who were killed in France.

Charles was born on July 7, 1892 in Baxter’s Wynd, the eldest son of Alexander and Allison (nee Dickson) Bryce who lived at 9 Firs Street. According to the 1911 Census, he had eight brothers and a sister, Elizabeth, born in 1909. He died on April 25, 1915, and is also remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

The family received more heartbreak the following year when James, aged 19, was shot through the head on September 25, 1916, after his battalion had taken a German sap.

Another brother, John, was withdrawn from service, at the request of his parents, after signing up before he was 16.

Rev. Allan said: “The lives of those connected with this church and community still have ties with people and places today.

“Those who died are still part of us and our story. ‘They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old’. Indeed they will not.”