Keeping records of those who perished during the First World War is a tall task but the sacrifice made by those men makes it a worthwhile one.
It is a painstaking venture for anyone who undertakes the job of listing the details of soldiers who were killed during the bloody conflict, however, such is the strong feeling that it is a matter of duty to do so, many go to great lengths to honour the war dead.
Two local examples include the efforts of members of churches. The congregation of Erskine Church commissioned a book called ‘They Shall Grow Not Old’, published last year, which features the lives and backgrounds of the men honoured on the memorials of the Falkirk Parish and Erskine Churches. The book was researched by several people over a lengthy period.
Pensioner Ronnie Cheape, a member of Larbert Old Parish Church, and his friend Ronnie Laing even visited the cemeteries of northern Europe where the battles were fought to gather details of the men listed on his church’s memorial.
Some 3000 men from the Falkirk area died during the war and while records of their names exist, details of their lives, who they were, where they worked and who their families are don’t.
Falkirk Archives, based in Callendar House, is trying to piece together part of this lost history through a scrapbook compiled by wartime headmaster James Mather.
He furnished the album with photos and notes of the pupils he had taught who had attended the school and went on to the trenches – some never to return.
Jean Jamieson, from the Archives, said: “The album is an mazing piece of local history. The present-day schoolchildren have worked on it along with the heritage learning team and it is part of our new ‘Our Area in the First World War’ exhibition.
“There is a lot of detail about the soldiers who went to Laurieston Primary, but there are some we don’t have any details about, so it would be really special to be able to finish the work of Mr Mather for future generations.
“It is generally easier to find out about those who died or who won valour as there are usually reports in the likes of papers on these, but we’d love to hear from any local families who may have had family members in the war who may be listed in Mr Mather’s album.
“Any details, or even additional details to what we already have, would be most welcome.”
Anyone who would like to submit information for Mr Mathers’ book can do so by calling (01324) 503779, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT’S A TOUGH TASK COMPILING WAR LIST
Compiling a list of the war dead is not an easy assignment.
Around 3000 men from the Falkirk area were killed during World War One and it is hard to even get an exact figure due to soldiers’ names being listed on more than one war memorial or incomplete details.
The most conclusive resource is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s website (www.cwgc.org), which lists details of the majority of British soldiers who fought in conflicts, but even this is a work in progress a century later for World War One.
Falkirk Library has copies of The Falkirk Herald during the war years on microfilm which published details of soldiers who perished, as well as stories about news from the Home Front.