Friends commemorate sacrifice of Oban heroes
ON SUNDAY October 1, two months of planning came to fruition when, at the invitation of Friends of Kilbride, around 50 people gathered at Kilbride historic site at Lerags, near Oban, to commemorate the lives and deaths of three First World War soldiers, whose untimely ends are commemorated on their 19th-century family stones.
The existence of these stones had come to light following a casual visit to Kilbride by a Canadian visitor. A search of the records showed that the McCulloch family stone recorded the deaths in action of Sergeant Iain McCulloch, Cameron Highlanders, and Gunner Donald McCulloch, Tank Corps.
By pure coincidence, the McIntyre family stone, also erected in the 19th century, stands almost side by side with that of the McCullochs, and records the death of Private Hugh McIntyre of the 48th Highlanders of Canada.
These two markers, erected 160 years ago, positioned almost adjacent to each other seem to be the only two Kilbride markers associated with First World War.
That particular McCulloch line seems to have been obliterated with the death of Donald, on August 2, 1917. Ian died in action in 1915, and their remaining sister married late in life, and appears to have had no children of her own.
Hugh McIntyre, a stonemason by trade, emigrated to Canada in 1912, volunteered with the Canadian Highlanders on the outbreak of war, and managed a few days’ leave home in Oban before being killed in action at St Julian, Belgium, in 1915.
However, with the assistance of the Canadian government and local researcher, Jill Bowis, we were able to make the Kilbride connection known to the McIntyre family, some of whom now live in and around Edinburgh.
Catherine and Colin, greatniece and -nephew respectively of Hugh, and other McIntyre family members attended the service, and took an active part. Catherine led us in a Gaelic hymn, while Colin ceremoniously planted a commemorative tree.
The non-denominational service was led by the Reverend Dugald Cameron of Kilmore and Oban Parish Church, the Gaelic scripture being declaimed by Anne Fergusson.
Piper Donald MacDougall, Seil Crofts, played the lament The Taking of Beaumont Hamel and the pibroch, The Old Woman’s Lament.
Friends of Kilbride Elaine, Hannah, Deborah, Alistair and Keiran contributed to the affair giving freely of their time in various tasks, directing traffic, setting out Café Kilbride for the post-service brunch and generally ensuring the comfort and safety of our guests. Karen’s and Anne’s home-baking was literally the icing on the cake of Silver Laced Catering’s wholesome spread.
BBC Alba transmitted a recording of the event in its news programme.
During the service, a gale of wind and the rain swept in from the Atlantic, as we sheltered beneath canopy and umbrella. But our spirits were uplifted as we looked back to that tragic time and thought of the selfless sacrifice made not only by our three Hielan’ laddies, but a sacrifice made by some 10 million combatants of all nationalities, and by three million non-combatant civilians, caught up in that tragic, ultimately senseless, conflict.
Friends of Kilbride would like to express their gratitude to all those who participated or contributed.
For further information about Friends of Kilbride, its aims and objectives, please visit the Facebook page, or website at www.friendsofkilbride.scot.
Around 50 people braved the inclement weather to attend the commemoration service at Kilbride.