The forgotten 23 brave souls

The Vickery family pictured at the Newton Mearns War Memorial. Third from left is David Arthur, a school friend of Sheilas father.
The Vickery family pictured at the Newton Mearns War Memorial. Third from left is David Arthur, a school friend of Sheilas father.

An investigation carried out by the Mearns History Group has uncovered 23 names which have been missed off the war memorial.

The group had been undertaking research on the names which are inscribed on the stone, and were surprised to find that 22 men and one woman who had fallen in battle, had been missed off.

The grey granite ‘mercat cross’ memorial located outside Mearns Bowling Club was erected in 1920 by local subscription, and was originally placed in the grounds of what was then Mearns Public School.

A measure of the success of this project was a comment made by a gentleman who has attended the annual Armistice Day service for many years, who said: “I used to see only names, now I see people.”

The group have managed to unearth some surpising facts including; In WWI, eight local families lost two or more sons.

Men from Mearns were represented at Gallipoli, Loos, the Somme and Ypres. They lie buried not just in France, but in Belgium, Turkey, the Netherlands also in Dera Ismail Khan (present Day Pakistan), Basra Persian Gulf, and Rawalpindi in India.

One man was killed when his ship the SS Clan Farquhar was torpedoed by German submarine ÜB-43 on a voyage from Calcutta and another when HMS Laurentic carrying gold bullion valued at £5m was mined off the northern coast of Donegal with the loss of 350 lives.

Most recently, the group were contacted by a family in Vancouver who had been researching their own family tree and found that two great-uncles had been killed in France in 1916. Robert and William Close are recorded on the memorial, and it was their great niece, Sheila Vickery, who, along with her family travelled to Newton Mearns last week to pay their respects to family members who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Sheila told The Extra: “The visit was special for us because we learned more of the stories of the family that went before us. I believe our own stories are enriched by learning about our ancestors.”

The Mearns History Group have confirmed that they have no plans to add the missing names to the memorial, which is looked after by the Royal British Legion Scotland. We have asked the local branch of their intentions, but at the time of going to press had not received any response.