PAINTING HIS MEMORIES
My grandfather, after whom I am named, was Dugald Cameron. He served through the First World War with the ninth battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
Like many returnees from war my grandfather did not say much about his experiences. However, he expressed himself through art. Throughout his life he sketched, and then, if he felt he could do the subject justice he would he either paint in oil or produce a pencil piece.
The story follows when he left home, his step mother, got rid of all his clothes as she assumed (hoped?) that he would not survive.
The battalion saw a great deal of action, though he shared nothing of this with his family. We do, however, have a copy of a postcard reproduced from a painting he presented after the war to his commanding officer. It shows the men in action. To my modern mind, I wonder if this was therapy for my grandfather. He always attended battalion reunions, where each time he was invited to sing a traditional song. For decades after the war he went with an old comrade to watch Dumbarton FC – a shared time with a man who knew what they had gone through. Indeed, my grandfather died watching his beloved Sons.
I was an infant when he died. What did he leave behind from his service and experience? I have some German tobacco pipes (how did he get them?), his puttees, and his Argylls cap, a postcard, and through the generations, a deep sense that war is not glorious. Yet ordinary men and women are called upon to do extraordinary things; we should care for them and must be certain that the cause is justified. Rev Dugald Cameron (Kilmore and Oban)
One of Dugald Cameron’s paintings. Did he turn to art as therapy, a release from the horrors of what he had seen?