The Falkirk Herald has paid humble tribute ahead of Remembrance Sunday to the 3000 men from the district who died in the First World War.
Their sacrifices during the 1914-18 conflict should never be forgotten. Over 12 pages in today’s paper, we have listed the names from war memorials of Airth, Avonbridge, Blackness, Bonnybridge, Bo’ness, Denny, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Larbert, Laurieston, Longcroft, Muiravonside, Old Polmont, Shieldhill, Slamannan, South Alloa and Standburn.
Across the district on Sunday communities, families, veterans of later wars and people from all walks of life will attend services and hear the poignant stories of the precious lives that were lost.
Before the horrors of the Great War unfolded in the years that followed that fateful day on August 4, 1914, when Britain declared war on Germany, some men saw enlisting as an adventure to free them from the harsh conditions of normal life such was the poverty for working class people at the time.
The brave souls who signed up to fight on the battlefields of northern Europe were ordinary working men such as miners in local collieries, grocers with local Co-ops, policemen, moulders in iron foundries, schoolmasters, dock workers, employees at the Carron Company, clerks, cabinet makers and engineers.
Men like Corporal James Adamson, of the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery, from Bothkennar, who was a police officer in Alloa who enlisted to do his bit despite being exempt from military service.
He died of the wounds he suffered in the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, aged just 28. More than 325,000 Allied soldiers died during the battle, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres.
John Mutter from Maddiston was a trooper in the 2nd Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys and was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), an extremely high award, for his courage when he was mortally wounded carrying a wounded comrade from the firing line on November 21, 1914.
Our nostalgia columnist and Falkirk historian Ian Scott also talks about the McIsaac brothers – Malcolm (20) and William (26) – from Shieldhill who were gunners for the Royal Garrison Artillery.
They were killed by the same shell on April 4, 1918 and are buried in adjacent graves in Arras Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery.
Provost Pat Reid, who will pay his respects at remembrance services this weekend, said: “It is obviously difficult to articulate thoughts given the scale of loss to families and our communities.
“It is estimated that around 30 per cent of men aged between 20-24 in 1911 perished and that around 148,000 Scotsmen from home and abroad were in that number – not far short of the total population of the Falkirk Council area today.
“They left behind wives, sweethearts, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and community – all forced to grieve and live lives which they had not anticipated.
“I think Vera Brittain, a British author who wrote the book ‘Testament of Youth’ after losing her fiance, brother and her best friend during the war, sums things up when she speaks of the ‘lost youth that the war had stolen’ and being deprived of the alternative life she might have led.
“And it is also true that ‘We owe more tears to these dead men than time shall see us pay’.”