Stone to hon­our gen­tle gi­ant hero

Home town re­mem­bers courage of Sergeant Carmichael

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Judith Ton­ner

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.”

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