Stone to honour gentle giant hero
Home town remembers courage of Sergeant Carmichael
The gallant actions of Glenmavis war hero Sergeant John Carmichael were remembered at a ceremony exactly 100 years after he earned the Victoria Cross on the battlefields of World War I.
A commemorative stone was unveiled on Friday at New Monkland Parish Church in his home village, as a permanent tribute to his brave actions in saving the lives of his comrades.
The ceremony was attended by dozens of Sergeant Carmichael’s descendants, including his 83-year-old niece, and his greatnephew Tom Carmichael, who spoke of “the man after the war”.
He told the Advertiser: “It was very moving and was a fitting tribute to him after all these years – 100 after his heroic act and 40 years after his death.
“Family members travelled from as far away as Yorkshire and it was nice to see so many people who knew him or had connections. He was an extremely quiet man, and when he saw a need he quietly and graciously filled it.
“He looked imposing but was a gentle giant.”
Provost Jean Jones welcomed guests to the church, where they were able to see some of Sergeant Carmichael’s wartime heirlooms as well as displays made by pupils from neighbouring New Monkland Primary. A specially- written tribute song, entitled Reason to Remember, was performed by Billy Stewart, while minister Rev William Jackson gave a reading and prayer, and led attendees in the Act of Remembrance.
The Last Post was sounded and a minute’s silence observed, before a piper’s lament played as wreaths were laid at the stone by relatives and dignitaries including depute lord lieutenant Abdul Abid and Airdrie & Shotts MP Neil Gray.
Also brought to the ceremony in Sergeant Carmichael’s honour was the “wreath of respect” – a circle of metal poppies supported by a horseshoe from a stallion who helped bring soil from Flanders Fields and containing the Remembrance Exhortation in both text and Braille. Tom added: “Its arrival was a surprise – the lady who brought it, Berni Wilkins, had driven from Lichfield in the early hours to be there, and it was a very unusual and interesting thing to see.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the words of the tribute song.
“It was exceptionally good and Billy sang it well.
“It was like the folk music of Scotland and he did a marvellous job. The Provost’s office at North Lanarkshire Council organised everything extremely well, and I can’t speak highly enough of them.”
He added: “The service showed the type of man my great-uncle was. He was generous not only to family but to the wider community, and that just epitomised the man and his whole ethos in life.”