Category Archives: World Wars

Scottish Horsemen – WW1

WW1 service of four New Luce men who enlisted together

War was declared on 4th August 1914.
28th September 1914 was the day New Luce went to war. In September 1914 a group of volunteers was enlisted for war service from the Stranraer area (see the photograph and article below).

Image: Reprint from the Wigtownshire Free Press 1914:

In September 1914 a group of volunteers was enlisted for war service from the Stranraer area (see the photograph and article below).

The group included four men from long established New Luce families:
John Dalrymple, aged 19, a farmer from Milton of Larg;
Gilbert Fenion, aged 21, a postman from New Luce,
Peter Hardie, aged 28, a farm labourer from New Luce: and
William McDowall, aged 23, a railway surface man from New Luce (recently returned from Canada).

These four men traveled on to Perth where they all enlisted together into the Scottish Horse Regiment on 28th September 1914. They initially joined 2/3 Scottish Horse (who along with 3/3 were the training and reserve battalions of the third regiment). It is not certain why they chose to join a horse regiment rather than the local infantry regiment – but they would all be used to working with horses.

With these men at this point was Charles Erskine, a 30 year old native of Langholm who was working as a gamekeeper in the New Luce area at the time.
We do not know which regiment P McClymont (listed in the newspaper article) joined.

Training for the Scottish Horsemen was initially based in Perthshire, then at other training bases in the UK. They were all transferred at different dates between February and August 1915 to 1/3 Scottish Horse (the front line troops) after completing training.

Photo: Scottish Horse soldiers training at Perth in 1915:

Scottish Horse soldiers training at Perth in 1915:

August 1915 – December 1915 Gallipoli

All 3 Scottish horse regiments were part of the expeditionary force sent to the Middle East area in 1915

They sailed on the ship “Transylvania” at first heading for the main base in Egypt. After a stop in Malta they were re-routed towards Gallipoli in modern day Turkey. At the Greek island of Lemnos (Limnos) they were separated from their horses (as landing them on beaches in small boats where there is no harbour would be very difficult) and from that point they fought on foot.

On 31st August and 1st September 1915 the Scottish Horse regiments disembarked in the Gallipoli area at Suvla Bay. There were significant casualties, but much less than there had been in the regiments who landed some days before them, or the first troops that landed at Gallipoli in the spring. They were to be there for almost four months, much of the time in the front line trenches facing Turkish forces.

Illness in the strange climate was a major problem for all the regiments. As in all the Middle East campaigns, more men were hospitalised with malaria or stomach problems than by enemy action. William McDowall was hospitalised on 1st October at the 21st General Hospital, Alexandria with enteritis (the sick and wounded were being evacuated to Egypt to recover). He was discharged on 27th October before returning to his regiment at Suvla Bay.

John Dalrymple was also hospitalised with enteritis – he was returned to the UK on 12/12/15 and to Manchester from 26/12/15 to recover.

Late in 1915 it was decided to withdraw from the Dardanelles, and all allied forces were evacuated from the Gallipoli area towards Egypt. The Scottish Horse regiments left Suvla Bay on 19th and 20th December, and arrived at Alexandria at New Year. All the volunteer troops who were involved in front line action at Gallipoli qualified to receive the 1914 – 1915 star.

Image: Map of the Gallipoli / Dardanelles Area – Turkey:

Map of the Gallipoli / Dardanelles Area – Turkey

Photo: Troops landing at Suvla Bay 1915:

Troops landing at Suvla Bay 1915

January 1916 – autumn 1916 Egypt

The Scottish Horse regiments spent the first few weeks of 1916 recuperating at Abbassia, by Cairo.

This was very close to the great pyramids. (Peter Hardie was known to tell the tale of being able to look down onto a passing early aeroplane from the top of a pyramid!!). All 3 Scottish Horse regiments were then moved to Kantara to defend the eastern side of the Suez Canal. They also manned a forward position at Dueidar at the edge of the Sinai Desert. A lot of time was spent building fortifications with sandbags – typical of desert warfare. They fought Turkish forces at the Battle of Romani (Rumani) on 3rd – 5
th August 1916 and helped to drive them back across the Sinai Desert.

In autumn 1916, as the horses they had left behind in August 1915 were no longer available (by then they were with the Dorset Yeomanry!), the regiments were officially “dismounted” and were reformed. Many transferred to the new 13th Battalion of the Black Watch (William McDowall), and some into the Lovat Scouts – part of the Cameron Highlanders (Peter Hardie). Both of these men were then sent to Salonica. Gilbert Fenion transferred to the 4th Black Watch (reserve Royal Highlanders) on 26/12/1916 and initially returned to the UK. He later transferred again to the Machine Gun Corps. John Dalrymple transferred to 4/5 Regiment Black Watch on 25/12/1916 and was transferred to France. Charles Erskine transferred to the cavalry – beyond that, we don’t know what happened to him (perhaps he was the only one to ever fight on a horse!).

Photo: Map of area east of Suez and Cairo:

Map of area east of Suez and Cairo

Photo: Scottish Horse Regiment soldiers building a “redoubt” at Dueidar:

Scottish Horse Regiment soldiers building a “redoubt” at Dueidar

Autumn 1916 – May 1918 Salonika and Macedonia

In October 1916 the 13th Black Watch sailed to Salonika in Macedonia (modern day Greece) and were posted with The Lovat Scouts and other regiments to the Struma Valley as the 81st Infantry Brigade.

The Black Watch spent most of their time in the area near the small towns of Homondos, Karadzakoj and Kamila, where they fought Bulgarian, Hungarian and Austrian troops.

This was a fairly static stand-off situation where the opposing forces each held one side of the wide valley. There were many small raids and frequent shelling, but it was not the close quarters trench warfare as on the western front. Malaria forced more men out from the front line than wounds.

William McDowall and Peter Hardie remained in this area until May 1918.

Image: Map of the Salonika Front:

Map of the Salonika Front

Photo: Field trench – Salonika:

Field trench – Salonika

1918 Western Front

John Dalrymple spent most of 1917 and 1918 with 4/5 regiment Black Watch in the northern France and Flanders area. He saw some of the worst trench based fighting at Ypres and Passchendaele.
Gilbert Fenion fought in 1918 on the western front with the machine gun corps – we do not know where.
Peter Hardie arrived on the Western Front in June 1918 with the Lovat Scouts Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders. Until the end of the war they were mainly involved in defending communication lines, signalling and sharpshooting (sniping).
William McDowall also arrived on the Western Front in June 1918 with the 13th Black Watch (which included most of the surviving men from the Scottish Horse regiments)

They sailed to Taranto in Italy and travelled by train to Amiens. There were about one thousand men in total, many still suffering from malaria contracted in the Struma Valley. They became part of the 4th Army Group. After a rest and training period,
they were moved to the front line at Vendhuile and joined the Hundred Days Offensive which ended the war. As the German troops were falling back, this was open warfare rather than trench warfare. The battalion fought at the battle of the River Selle (Le Cateau), and the Second Battle of the Sambre (Haute Cornee). The Battle of the Sambre was the last major engagement of the war on the western front.

Image: Line of Advance – Northern France / Flanders – October / November 1918:

Line of Advance - Northern France - Flanders - October - November 1918

WW1 ended on 11th November 1918.

The four New Luce men were all demobbed from their respective regiments in early spring 1919. It was perhaps unusual that a group of men who enlisted together and served for virtually the whole of WW1, in several different battles and countries, all survived to return to their home village. Many others from New Luce also fought and survived, but we don’t know who and where – we only have information on the Scottish Horsemen. Those who fought and died are listed on the war memorial at the church.
After the war, John Dalrymple returned to farm at Milton of Larg before moving in 1922 to farm at Ochterlure, Stranraer. Gilbert Fenion returned to New Luce for a short time and then moved to Paisley where he became a cattle dealer. Peter Hardie and William McDowall both returned to New Luce area to live and work, Peter as a farm labourer and drainer, and William as a railway surface man / plate layer.

Both lived in the village into their nineties.

Image: Pennant from Egypt sent back to New Luce in 1916:

Pennant from Egypt sent back to New Luce in 1916

Many thanks to the primary source of the information in this document:
Colonel David Arbuthnott (Black Watch, retired),
Scottish Horse Archive, Dunkeld Community Archive.

All facts in this document are available in WW1 war records and public records.

You can download this page in PDF format here…

Names on the War Memorial



The Names, Service and dates of death on the first line of each entry are as they appear on the memorial.  1914 – 1918


James Hewitson – age 22 – Private (3708 & 301456) 1/8th (Argyllshire) Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

James was a shepherd for the Duke of Argyll at Campbelltown when he enlisted in March 1916. He had previously been employed at Balker, Inch, Wigtownshire. His father was also a shepherd who had worked at Dirniemow, New Luce for about 20 years before moving to Ballantrae, Ayrshire.

Born 1894 in Dalmellington, Ayrshire. (Source:GRoS – Birth Register and 1901 census)
Son of Robert and Grace (Douglas) Hewitson, of Dirniemow Farm, Glenwhilly, New Luce, of
Awies, New Luce and of Little Tongue, Inch, Wigtownshire. (Source:CWGC and family grave in Inch Parish Churchyard, Wigtownshire)
Killed in Action – 17 March 1917.
Commonwealth War Grave – Roclincourt Valley Cemetery, Arras, France.
Also listed on the Ballantrae War Memorial.
Roclincourt was just within the Allied lines before the Battle of Arras in 1917 and it was from here that the 51st (Highland) and 34th Divisions advanced on 9 April 1917. The cemetery was enlarged after the Armistice when graves, mostly from the 34th and 51st Divisions, were brought in from the surrounding battlefields. (Source:CWGC)


James Keatings – age 35 – Private (13837) 15th Battalion (1st Glasgow) Highland Light Infantry.  Known as the Glasgow Tramways Battalion.

James was a motorman (tram driver) with the Glasgow Corporation Tramways and was living at 29 Winston Street, Parkhead, Glasgow when he enlisted. (Source:SDGW and Glasgow Roll of Honour)

Born 1881 in New Luce. (Source:SNWM and GRoS – Birth Register)
Son of Michael and Elizabeth (Wright) Keatings of Main Street, New Luce.
Husband of Daisy (Whyatt) Keatings who he married in 1907 in St. Rollox, Glasgow.
(Source:GRoS – Marriage Register)

Killed in Action – 8 May 1916.
Commonwealth War Grave – Authuile Military Cemetery, Albert, France.
Also listed on the 15th HLI memorial in the Glasgow Museum of Transport and on the GCT Dennistoun Depot Memorial, now at the Parkhead Depot.
The 32nd Division was largely comprised of locally raised units often known as “Pals”. It was a predominantly a Northern Division, although locally raised units from Glasgow were also in the structure. In November 1915 the Division received a warning order to prepare to sail for France and took part in it’s first major battle at Albert on 1 July 1916.


William Jackson McLean – age 30 – Pioneer (418464) 14th Division Signal Company, Royal Engineers.

William had been a policeman in Glasgow’s Eastern Division for 4 years when he enlisted in
November 1915. He and his family were living at 2 Yates Street, Camlachie, Glasgow.
(Source:WFP 10/1/1918 p.3e, Police Records and Glasgow Roll of Honour)
Born 1887 in New Luce. (Source:SNWM and GRoS – Birth Register)
Son of David Baird McLean and of Janet (Jackson) McLean of Main Street, New Luce.
Husband of Maggie Girvan (Boyle) McLean who he married in 1910 in Dundonald, Ayrshire.
(Source: GRoS – Marriage Register)
Died of Wounds – 19 November 1917.
Commonwealth War Grave – Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.
Also listed on the City of Glasgow Police Memorial.
Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station was a medical post just north of Ypres. The cemetery contains many graves of the Royal Artillery and of the Royal Engineers. (Source:CWGC)



Robert McMeeking – age 29 – Gunner (951578) 256th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

Robert was employed on the Glasgow Corporation Tramways and was living at 145 Holmlea Road, Cathcart, Glasgow when he enlisted. (Source:WFP 12/7/1917 p.3d, SDGW and Glasgow Roll of Honour)

Born 1888 in New Luce – as McMecking. (Source:GRoS – Birth Register)
Son of William and Agnes (Hannay) McMecking, of Waterfoot, New Luce.
(Source:CWGC and family grave in New Luce Parish Churchyard)
Killed in Action – 12 June 1917.
Commonwealth War Grave – Anzin-St.Aubin British Cemetery, Arras, France.
Listed on the GCT Langside Depot Memorial, now at the Parkhead Depot.
The village of Anzin-St. Aubin is on the north-western outskirts of Arras. The cemetery was begun by the 51st (Highland) Division (which included the 256th RFA) early in April 1917, and carried on by artillery units and field ambulances until October 1917. (Source:CWGC)

And his brother


William McMeeking – age 31 – Lance Corporal (35161) 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry.

William had served his apprenticeship as a gardener at Lochinch Castle, Castle Kennedy,
Wigtownshire. When he enlisted he was Head Gardener at Craigie House, Ayrshire.
(Source:WFP 25/4/1918 p.3c)

Born 1885 in New Luce – as McMecking. (Source:GRoS – Birth Register)
Son of William and Agnes (Hannay) McMecking, of Waterfoot, New Luce.
(Source:CWGC and family grave in New Luce Parish Churchyard)
Husband of Mary Ann (Matthews) McMeeking, of Stairdam, Murthly, Perthshire who he married in 1914 in Auchtergaven, Perthshire – as McMeeking. (Source:CWGC and GRoS – Marriage Register)
Killed in Action – 28 April 1917.
Commonwealth War Grave – Arras Memorial, France.
On 28 April, British and Canadian forces fought a bitter battle at Arleux-en-Gohelle in an attempt to secure the southeast flank of Vimy Ridge. While this objective was attained, casualties were high.



Robert McWhirter – age 32 – Private (S/13661) 7th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders.
Robert was an ironmonger when he enlisted in September 1914 in Glasgow. He had served his apprenticeship with J.L. Davidson in Newton Stewart before working with T. Duff in Annan, Dumfriesshire. (Source:Service Record at the National Archives and D&G Standard 9/10/1915 p.3b)

Born 1883 in Bargrennan, Kirkcudbrightshire. (Source:SNWM and GRoS – Birth Register)
Son of the late Helen (McTier) McWhirter. Son of John McWhirter and step-son of Janet
McWhirter of Barlure, New Luce. (Source:CWGC)
Missing in Action – 25 September 1915.
Commonwealth War Grave – Loos Memorial, France.
Also listed on the Bargrennan War Memorial and on the Burgh and Parish of Annan War Memorial.
The 15th (Scottish) Division attacked the village Loos and Hill 70. In a little more than an hour parts of the division occupied Loos and its northern outskirts and Hill 70, whilst some units had pushed on as far as Cite St. Auguste, a mile east of Hill 70. (Source:Battalion War Diary)


Thomas Milroy – age 31 – Private (252132) 49th Battalion, Canadian Infantry.
Thomas was farming at Cantuar near Swift Current, Saskatchewan when he enlisted in January 1916.
(Source:Service record at the Library and Archives of Canada and the Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial)

Born 1886 in Inch, Wigtownshire. (Source:GRoS – Birth Register)
Son of Thomas and Mary (Murray) of High Mark, New Luce.
(Source:Family grave in New Luce Parish Churchyard)
Killed in Action – 30 October 1917.
Commonwealth War Grave – Poelcapelle British Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.
Also listed on the Inch Parish War Memorial and on the Lochryan Parish War Memorial in
The Second Battle of Passchendaele – The first assault on 26 October, in pouring rain, saw the Canadians push beyond the wire entanglements on either side the flooded Ravebeek and advance 500 yards. The Canadians were ready to renew their attack on 30 October, when, following a devastating barrage, they reached the outskirts of Passchendaele and were poised to seize the village.
(Source:CWGC and Battalion War Diary)


John Murray – age 29 – Private (S/40297) 1st Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Formerly Private (6312) Scottish Horse Yeomanry. (Source:SNWM)
John joined the City of Glasgow Police Force in 1907 and by 1913 had been promoted as a plain clothes constable in the Detective Department. He was living at 178 Slatefield Street, Dennistoun when, in November 1915, he enlisted in the Scottish Horse. He was transferred to the Black Watch before going to France in August 1916.
(Source: WFP 19/11/1916 p.5a, SDGW, Police Records and Glasgow Roll of Honour)
Born 1887 in New Luce. (Source:GRoS – Birth Register)
Son of the late John and Ellen (McDowall) Murray, of The Smithy, New Luce. (Source:CWGC)
Missing in Action – 25 September 1916.
Commonwealth War Grave – Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, France.
Also listed on the City of Glasgow Police Memorial.
Battle of the Somme, Day 87 – The Battle of Morval began on 25 September.
The 1st. Battalion, Black Watch bombed up Flers Trench, capturing 300 yards of it. Later in the day the New Zealand Division took over the section. (Source:Somme day by day)


Thomas Nish – age 38 – Private (33377) 10th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Born 1879 in New Luce. (Source:SNWM and GRoS – Birth Register)
Son of James and Mary (Fenion) Nish of New Luce. (Source: family grave in New Luce Parish Churchyard)
Died on Active Service – 26 January 1917 of pneumonia in Dumfries Infirmary.
(Source:GRoS – Death Register)
Commonwealth War Grave – New Luce Parish Churchyard.
The 10th (Works) Battalion of the RSF was formed in Ayr in June 1916 and moved to Dumbarton. It remained in the UK throughout the war being renamed in April 1917 as the 4th Battalion of the Labour Corps.

© Kenneth Morrison July 2013

War Memorial Hall

Article from Wigtownshire Free Press 1924

Opening Of New Luce War Memorial Hall

Despite the bitterly cold weather which prevailed on Tuesday evening, there was a large attendance of people from all over the district at the formal opening of New Luce War Memorial Hall

The opening ceremony was performed by Mrs William Forster, Mains of Larg, who, after being handed the key of the hall by the Countess of Stair, who called upon her to formally open the hall, and expressed the pleasure it gave her to hand over the key to Mrs Forster, inserted the key in the lock and formally opened the hall.

Mrs Forster retains custody of the key which bears the inscription : “New Luce War Memorial Hall, 1924”

The hall which is a compact little building, is built to seat comfortably about 220 people, and is fitted with cloakrooms and lavatory accommodation, with a dining room and kitchen at the back.

The following undertook the work in connection with the building:- joiner work- Messrs Alec McLauchlan  & Sons, Stranraer ; plasterer- Mr James Murphy, Stranraer; mason work- Mr John Clive, Glenluce; plumber work- Messrs Henry McLauchlan & Sons, Stranraer; painter- Mr Thomas Adair, Stranraer; slater work- Mr John Forsyth, Stranraer;  lighting- messrs Henderson & Wither, Stranraer.

The Right Hon the Earl of Stair presided at the concert held immediately afterwards in connection with the opening of the hall, and accompanying him were Messrs John Forster, Mains of Larg, Alex Dalrymple, Milton and James McQuistin, Balneil.

The Earl said that thought the actual opening of the hall had been performed by Mrs Forster, who as they all knew had been one of the greatest sufferers in the Great War, and was not likely to forget the sacrifice made, he had been called on to say a few words. Memorials were springing up all over the country, paying tribute to all who had fallen in the late war, and in that respect, he thought, New Luce had gone one better. They had not only a memorial a little further up the hill- a memorial to those who had actually fallen- but they had also that splendid hall for those who had returned.  (Applause). He thought New Luce had set an example which would be followed by larger and more prosperous places. Speaking on the financial position and the origin of the hall, Lord Stair said that on the 5th June 1919, a public meeting was held, when it was decided to build the hall.  Immediately afterwards the committee had started to raise funds for the building of the hall, and had done so through having sales of work, whist drives and concerts, the work being actually commenced on 9th May 1923.  The sum required to build the hall was found to be £1760 and that exclude seats, piano etc.  That evening they still required £237 to clear off the cost.  He thought that the committee had done excellent work in the short time at their disposal and they might well be proud of their achievement.  (Applause)

Mr John Forster, in proposing a vote of thanks to Lord Stair and Lady Stair for coming there that night,  and to Mrs Forster for performing the opening ceremony, referred to the great assistance they had received from all in their work.

The Chairman said he had forgotten to apologise for the late arrival of Lady Stair and himself owing to a breakdown and he regretted that the Countess had to leave again so suddenly as she had to attend a meeting at Castle Kennedy.

Letters of apology for absences were received by the secretary from- Messrs J Wallace of Cairnryan; K McDouall of Logan; A.F.M Frederick of Gass; and Major McMicking of Miltonise.

Never before, we are quite safe in saying, has a more enjoyable concert been held in New Luce. The artistes all acquitted themselves admirably and the various items in the programme were well received and heartily responded to.  The first item on the programme was a …… by McKenzie’s band, which was loudly applauded. Owing to the late arrival of the professional artistes, through the train being late, the first part of the programme was somewhat unbalanced.  The songs rendered by Mr R.M Douglas, Stranraer ( Comrades of Mine and The Sailor’s Grave ) were appropriate to the occasion, and the applause which greeted Mr Douglas ‘ efforts was sufficient indication of the appreciation of the audience.  Mr J Johnson was to a very high degree successful in his singing of “The Battle of Stirling”, etc. and the same might also be said of Mr Alex McCaig.  All these artistes had to respond to encores. Miss Nancy Mason at once established herself a firm favourite with her audience, and was heard to distinct advantage in several songs from her extensive repertoire, these including  “ Sands o’ Dee”, “Sing ,Joyous Bird” “Skye Boat Song” and ”Wake Up”.  Miss Rachel Lindsay also gave a meritorious performance.  Although suffering from a severe cold, she sang in a manner which delighted her audience, and her efforts were loudly applauded. Her songs included, “Shepherd’s Cradle Song”, “When Swallows Homeward Fly” and “Break o’ Day”.  Mr Alex Macgregor took the audience by storm, and following his rendition of “The Drum Major”, they, like Oliver Twist, asked for more.  Mr Macgregor was only too willing to oblige, and his other songs had a similar reception.  The lighter element of the entertainment was upheld by Mr Joe Rankin, who has only recently come into the public eye.  His songs in character were very humorous, and his makeup was indeed splendid.

Mrs Letters I.R.A.M acted as accompanist in her usual efficient manner.

At the end of the programme, Mr Stair McHarrie, Rephad, proposed a hearty vote of thanks to the Hall Committee, the result of whose work they sat her that night and which he was sure was a credit to them. When the people of New Luce conceived the idea of carrying out a scheme, they went about it with great enthusiasm and the hall scheme had been no exception.  If he might name one person more than another, he would mention Mr John Forster, the energetic convener, who had carried through his work in a characteristically enthusiastic manner.  He asked them to accord to the Hall Committee and all the committees a very hearty vote of thanks for the manner in which they had carried through their work. (Applause)

Mr Forster briefly replied.

The Chairman proposed a vote of thank to the artistes, which was replied to by Mr Macgregor.

Mr Forster proposed a similar complement to the chairman, and the latter, in his reply, said it had given him great pleasure to be present that night.

The concert closed with the singing of the National Anthem

A dance was held afterwards in the hall and a large number “tripped the light fantastic”.