Sergeant John Wilson

Wilson-medal-768x847

For Bravery in the Field – 21st to 24th December 1917.
Written by Barrie Duncan of the Low Parks Museum.

100 years ago, on 21st December 1917, a four-man patrol from the 10th Scottish Rifles left the relative safety of their trenches and crept into no man’s land. Their objective was to establish the condition of the enemy’s defences and to try and establish the identity of the German unit defending them. It wasn’t until three days later, on Christmas Eve 1917, that two of the patrol would drag themselves back into the British lines – wounded, dehydrated, and suffering from exposure and frost-bite – while the other two members were presumed dead.

The two men who made it back to the British trenches on 24th December 1917 were Sergeant John Wilson, and Lance Corporal John Thomson. Both men were awarded the Military Medal for their actions on the patrol, but within a few days Lance Corporal Thomson had succumbed to his wounds, and Sergeant Wilson would ultimately have both his legs amputated as a result of wounds exacerbated by frost-bite.
The patrol that set-out on 21st December 1917 comprised of four men; Second Lieutenant Ewen, Sergeant Wilson, Lance Corporal Thomson, and Private Aberdeen. Sergeant Wilson had led a similar patrol on the previous evening when a German post was encountered, but this was too well defended for them to try and rush in an effort to secure prisoners.

The patrol came up to what they thought was the German lines, but which actually turned out to be a small section of abandoned trench that the German forces were using as an observation and listening post.

The lone German sentry was successfully captured by the patrol and while returning to their own lines they encountered and were attacked by a German patrol comprising of between 12 and 15 men. In the ensuing fight, the German prisoner was killed, and all four men of the British patrol became casualties.

Lieutenant Ewen was thought to have been killed outright, and Private Aberdeen was badly wounded. Wilson and Thomson, both wounded, were able to get away, using the myriad of shell-holes as cover. Looking back, they saw the forms of Lieutenant Ewen and Private Aberdeen being dragged away towards the German lines.

Using the cover of darkness, Wilson and Thomson dragged themselves to what they thought was the British lines, only to find they had lost their way in the confusion of no man’s land and were actually near the parapet of the German trenches. It took them almost three days to make their way back to the British lines, as by this time Thomson was almost incapacitated through blood loss and the effects of exposure and Wilson had to physically drag him, even although he himself was wounded and suffering from frost-bite.

Having survived all this, the unfortunate pair were almost met with the cruel fate of being killed by their own men, as when they first reached the British lines they were fired upon by the wary soldiers manning the trenches. On Christmas Eve they met a British patrol who assisted them back to the 10th Battalion’s lines.

The fate of Lieutenant Ewen and Private Aberdeen would not be known by the Battalion for some time. Wilson and Thomson had assumed Lieutenant Ewen killed in the fighting against the German patrol.

He had in fact been wounded and taken prisoner. He recovered from his wounds, although he spent the remainder of the War as a prisoner in Germany. Ewen was a chemist and druggist in Aberdeen in civilian life; he had originally served as a private soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps before being granted his commission and had only been serving with the 10th Scottish Rifles for a short time before commanding the fateful patrol.

Private Archibald Aberdeen was also wounded and taken prisoner. He succumbed to his wounds and died the next day, on 22nd December 1917. Private Aberdeen was buried by his German captors in a French cemetery behind their lines. In 1924, Private Aberdeen’s remains were reburied by the Imperial War Graves Commission in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery among his comrades who died in the War.

Wilson and Thomson were awarded their Military Medals on 1st January 1918. Three days later, on 4th January, Lance Corporal John Barr Thomson died of his wounds and the hardships suffered during his ordeal in no man’s land. John Thomson was from Hamilton, Scotland, and was 38 years old at the time of his death. He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.

Sergeant John Wilson was also from Hamilton. He had joined the 6th Scottish Rifles, the local Territorial Force Battalion of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in 1912. John was a compositor with his local newspaper, The Hamilton Advertiser. Embodied for active service when war was declared in August 1914, John first went to France with the 6th Scottish Rifles in March 1915.

Like Lieutenant Ewen, Sergeant Wilson was only transferred to the 10th Scottish Rifles a few months before he took part in the patrol. He had already been wounded in action, and had also served for a short time with an Officer Cadet School where he was considered for training as an officer. During the December patrol described above, Wilson had suffered a gun shot wound to the left thigh.

In addition he suffered severe frost-bite as result of spending so long in wet, freezing conditions. The damage to his legs was severe enough to result in him having both legs amputated, and he was discharged from the army on medical grounds in April 1918, aged 24.

Military Medal of Sergeant John Wilson, on display in Low Parks Museum (obverse – left, reverse – right)

If you would like to see more of these exhibitions, then you can see the fantastic display at the Low Parks Museum.

Walter Wingate, Hamilton’s Poet. 1865 – 1918.

Walter Wingate WM.

Walter Wingate was born on 15 April 1865, in Dalry in Ayrshire, the fourth son of David Wingate, who himself was known as ‘The Collier Poet’, having achieved some local fame for his own poems and songs. While Walter was still an infant, the family removed to Lanarkshire, where he remained for the rest of his life.
 
He attended Hutcheson’s Grammar School in Hamilton and, at the age of 16, went to Glasgow University from where he graduated with honours in mathematics before the age of 20. He was keen to work for the Indian Civil Service, but though passing all the academic tests, failed the physical requirements due to poor eyesight.
 
Countering this disappointment, he turned to teaching, obtaining an appointment in St. John’s Grammar School in Hamilton as mathematics master, a position he continued to occupy until his untimely death at the age of 52. Many years later a memorial fund was inaugurated by the Hamilton Civic Society, and a framed picture of the poet was given to the school in 1932.
 
During his life Wingate contributed poems to the Glasgow Herald and Evening News, to magazines, and to the anthologies of the Glasgow Ballad Club, but never had a book of his own published.
 
In his editor’s note in the collection put together after Wingate’s death, (Poems, published by Gowans and Gray in 1919) Adam Gowans speculates that many of the poems ‘will become familiar and dear to his countrymen.’ Certainly the Scots pieces have: ‘The Sair Finger’ remains a popular recitation piece, along with ‘The Dominie’s Happy Lot’ and ‘Conscience’.
 
A contemporary reviewer in The Scotsman was of the opinion that ‘the Scots verses are racier and more humorous in expression’, while praising the tender meditations on nature in both languages. Wingate’s talent for capturing wayside flowers and their habitat in watercolours was equalled by his ability to paint in words the countryside he so loved to wander.
 
In 1907, Walter had married Agnes Thom, who predeceased him by two years; her sudden death affected him profoundly and may have hastened his own death in 1918. Their two sons were subsequently raised by relatives, including Walter Buchanan, also a member of The Glasgow Ballad Club, who contributed the preface to Wingate’s posthumous collection.

The last poem of Walter Wingate.

Following on from our earlier post on Walter Wingate, Iain English sent us a poem that was written by the Hamilton Poet in 1917.
 
This poem until today has never been published and is the first time that it has been read by the public as it has been in the families possession since 1917.
 
Iain told Historic Hamilton:
 
“Walter Wingate (famous Scots poet) knew the Dawson family (and my Grandmother) and wrote this poem dedicated to Robert Dawson who was tragically killed in Passchendaele”
 
Here is Walter Wingate’s poem which was dedicated to Hamilton soldier Robert Dawson, which was to be one of his last poems written as he died the following year (1918)
 
 
“Corporal Dawson died of wounds”
That is all the story.
Brief and poor the notice sounds
Not a word of glory.
 
Sits Etaples by the sea:
There when war is over,
We may find where such as he,
Last have taken cover.
 
Two, whom none are left to call,
Father now or Mother,
Into lonelier years must fall,
Comforting each other.
 
And a symbol, meant to show,
Lovers newly plighted,
Rings a finger with the woe,
Of sweet promise blighted.
 
Shrapnel tore the soldier’s limb,
Here at longer ranges,
Spreads its havoc: reft of him,
Life’s perspective changes.
 
Let consoling Duty say:
“Would you have desired him,
Though you loved him, to say nay,
When my call required him?
 
God accepts your sacrifice,
Pleased with gift and giver,
And in him your comfort lies:
Death is not forever.
 
Walter Wingate 1865 – 1918.

Jotters….

JotterWM.

Thank you to Sandra Fox who took us on a wee trip down memory lane when she sent us a picture of her old Jotter which she found up the loft.

If you were at school around the 1980s and early 90s and before the region broke up this is what the schools in Hamilton were issued with.

Do you have an old school picture that you would like to share?
Send them to us and we will share with everyone on Historic Hamilton.

John Reynolds aka Jukebox Johnny R.I.P. 1948 – 2017.

Juke BoxJohnny WM.Hi all, I just wanted to let you all know that sadly John Reynolds passed away on Wednesday. John who was well known around Hamilton and in his younger years he played football and was a football agent. Later in life, he cleaned windows and was a pioneer of the music singing contests where he appeared on Michael Barrymore’s ‘My Kind of People’.

John was a karaoke singer and he sang I a lot of pubs & clubs around Hamilton & Lanarkshire. In his recent years, he has been in a home with Alzheimer’s.

Our thoughts are with John’s family at this time and I am sure that you will all agree that we have lost another Hamilton legend who will ever be in our thoughts for years to come. John’s family will let us know in due course where & when his funeral will be held.

John Reynolds 1948 – 2017.

Haud yir weesht!

In memory of all the steel work jobs
that migrated south.

Ravenscraig.

Haud yir weesht!

Haud yer wheesht ya we
bit man a’ll tell ye this
am no a fan. Ye micht
hay dun it when ye
waur 22 but it’s
nay yoose at
40 an yer oan
the buroo.

A wee durty fiver tae git
a drink, am a made
o’ money wad dae
ye think. Ma moneys
aw goan tae monday
week, anywise ye’d
pish yer drawers
an then ye’d reek.

Whaurs yer suit, it’s in the
pawn, nae yoose you
haudin oot yer haun.
A bocht sum tatties
an sum mince fur
wir dinner there
thi nicht, why
don’t ye git
yirsel a joab
an gie us aw
a fricht.

They shut thi Craig thirs nae
Joabs left, thi street
cleaner’s goat a degree.
Thi man in buroo saes
thirs naethin
tae dae an
it’s aw up
fur me.

Am no trained fur nursing
tae lay bricks isnae me,
am only trained as a
hoat bed slinger an
the only bed thas
hoat noo is
the wain’s
when she
pees.

Ifn thirs nae work tae be
hud wits a man tae dae,
thirs nae yoose prayn
tae God he’s been pyed
aff tae.

Aw the factories thas left
it’s weemin they want tae
employ, that an fur sweepin
up jist a young wee boy. A’ll
need tae get a license an
learn tae drive a truck,
mibies a’ll get a joab
then if thi tories don’t
F*** tha up.

Ravenscraig1

Written for Historic Hamilton by Kit Duddy.

Brandon Street mind 1980s.

Brandon StreetWM..JPG

Brandon Street mind 1980s.

In this picture, we have Brandon Street and the photo was taken during the mid-1980s. As well as the old bus, you will notice the old Hamilton rent office.

There was also the old dentist called Borland & Rankin where I believe the kids used to be terrified of going. And not to forget the Doctors which were very well known by families in this part of Hamilton.

This part of Brandon Street was thriving with small business at one time, but this was long before the buildings were knocked down to make way for the new ones.

Dan & John Daly in the 1950s

Dan & John Daly. 1950s.WMJPG

Rab McMillan sent us a picture taken from John Daly’s book ‘Our Daly Bread’. In the picture is Dan Daly (left) Who was visiting his brother John in Craigneuk in the 1950s. John is the person on the right-hand side of this picture.
 
Dan was loved by many people and also feared by much more! What were your memories of the local legend Dan Daly?

COUNCIL SPEEDS UP HAMILTONS SLUM CLEARANCE FEBRUARY 1974.

Ross's Pawn Shop Getting Demolished WM..JPG

In February 1974 Anxious to rid Hamilton of Slums, the Council Speeded up its Slum Clearance Programme from 100 houses a year to 150.
 
This brought forward the demolition of some properties which might have been expected to have a longer life. The council put out advertisements for anyone in the Burgh who were intending to purchase or rent a tenement in Hamilton should consult the Town House before taking any action.
 
In February 1974, the council agreed to an order for the demolition of 5-19 Johnstone Street, the improvement of 55-77 Gateside Street and demolition of 4-12 Brown Street and all work on these streets were carried out in 1974.
 
The director of environmental health submitted a list of properties to be dealt with by 1980. These included certain homes, Shops etc., in Woodside Walk, Lorne Street, Chapel Street, Quarry Place, Montrose Crescent, Almada Street, High Patrick Street, Avon Street, Haddow Street, Ann Street, Quarry Street, Glasgow Road, Stewart Street, Glenlee Street, Robertson Street, Burnbank Road, Dalziel Street, William Street, John Street, Portland Park, Portland Place, Campbell Street, Low Waters Road, Morris Street, Townhead Street, Miller Street, Low Patrick Street, Jack Street, Hope Street, 6 Wellhall Road, Windmill Road, Burnblea Street, Union Street, Lamb Street, 1 Bothwell Road, Cadzow Street, Barrack Street & Cadzow Lane.
 
As you can all imagine, this would have been a major change to these areas in Hamilton and when these houses and shops were demolished, it would change the way that these streets would look for ever.
 
We would like to know if you were affected by this compulsory purchase by the town council in the late 70s? If you were, where did the Council rehome you, or if you owned a shop where did they accommodate you with new business premises? Let us know and share your memories.

BURNBANK PEOPLE IN THE 1940s

Burnbank peiple 1940.JPG

This picture was published in a Hamilton paper in 1972 and it was telling the story of people from Burnbank. The picture was sent to the paper by a M. Justin.

Mr T Duffy from 108 High Blantyre Road, Burnbank identified the local people in 1972, he wrote:

The picture shown was taken in May 1940 and it was in the back garden at 113 High Blantyre Road, then the home of the late Mr & Mrs Alf McEwan. Mr Duffy & his wife were married three weeks after the picture was taken and on the day that it was announced that France had capitulated to the Germans on June 17, 1940.

It shows, from left to right, in the back row: Miss Mary Cumming (Later Mrs. Blezard, Now Deceased 1972), Miss Mary Graham of Almada Street, now Mrs. McLachlan, resident in Australia. Mr T Duffy (Now a retired insurance man 1972) and Mrs Duffy (Then Miss Ina McEwan)

The two girls at the front of the picture were L-R, Miss Margaret McEwan (Now Mrs Higgins) who resided at 113 High Blantyre Road and Miss Theresa McEwan (Now Mrs Cormack) who resides at Blackpool.

Do you have any pictures from the 1940s that you would like to share? Send them to us and we will share with all at Historic Hamilton.