Rid­dle of ‘broth­ers’ killed in Great War

Can you help with in­for­ma­tion?

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

A plaque com­mem­o­rat­ing the pupils of West Coats pri­mary school is to be re­turned to the newly re­fur­bished build­ing.

But the man be­hind the project hopes Re­former read­ers can help him solve a mys­tery.

Camp­bell Thom­son, of the La­nark­shire Yeo­manry Group, has been re­search­ing the 61 names that ap­pear on the plaque and cross check­ing them with the names on the Cam­bus­lang War Me­mo­rial.

In par­tic­u­lar, he is seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about the Bryce fam­ily.

On the plaque is recorded the names of Wil­liam Bryce and Far­quhar Bryce. A check with the Cam­bus­lang War Me­mo­rial failed to re­veal ei­ther man and they are not recorded on the lists of the Com­mon­wealth War Graves Com­mis­sion.

Camp­bell was able to iden­tify Far­quhar as the same Far­quhar Bryce who lived at Ar­doch Gar­dens in Cam­bus­lang.

Far­quhar had en­listed at Hamil­ton in Septem­ber 1916 when he was at­tached to the Ar­gyll and Suther­land High­landers. Med­i­cally clas­si­fied as C2, he was passed fit for home du­ties only but in Oc­to­ber 1917 he found him­self in the trenches of the West­ern Front dur­ing the des­per­ate win­ter of 1917/18.

Heavy rain was fol­lowed by driv­ing snow while the sol­diers were also sub­jected to poi­son gas.

In Jan­uary 1918 Far­quhar was ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal and even­tu­ally found him­self back in Glas­gow at Stob­hill Mil­i­tary Hospi­tal where he was di­ag­nosed with TB.

He was dis­charged in May 1918 but died at home in Oc­to­ber that year at the age of just 20.

His death was reg­is­tered at Cam­bus­lang by his aunt, JB Ire­land, of Croft Road, as his wid­owed mother, Mary, was in no state to carry out the sad duty. He is buried in West­burn Ceme­tery with­out even the recog­ni­tion of a Com­mon­wealth War Grave Com­mis­sion stone.

There is no ser­vice record for Wil­liam Bryce but the cen­sus of 1911 lists a Mary Bryce who stayed on West Coats Road with her sons Wil­liam and Far­quhar.

Camp­bell, who has two grand­chil­dren at West Coats, wants to know if the Wil­liam Bryce named on the plaque is Far­quhar’s brother.

He said: “Dur­ing the re­search, I was re­peat­edly moved by the sto­ries of those young Cam­bus­lang men.

“Broth­ers and friends died dur­ing this ter­ri­ble time and in sev­eral in­stances fam­i­lies lost all their sons. The least they de­serve is to be re­mem­bered.

“It is tragic that Far­quhar and Wil­liam Bryce are not prop­erly re­mem­bered. If not for the me­mo­rial in West­coats Pri­mary School, they would be com­pletely for­got­ten.”

Camp­bell is hop­ing that a sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the Bryce fam­ily can shed some light on this sad story.

He can be con­tacted at camp­bell. thom­son@ live. co. uk or on 01698 382330.

Trib­ute The plaque will be re­turned to West Coats

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