John heard call to arms
Family proud of medals
“We could not stand aside.”
Those words by British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, echoed around the House of Commons on August 3, 1914.
Germany had just declared war on France, invaded neutral Belgium, and was ignoring calls from Britain to end the hostilities.
The following day, Britain fulfilled its commitment to stand by France and Belgium by declaring war on the Germans.
Meanwhile, John James Branter was over 400 miles away from Westminster with his family in Rutherglen, not realising what lay ahead.
Word gradually spread around town that the world was at war, and that the British army would be searching for soldiers to fight - and potentially make the ultimate sacrifice for King and country.
Just five weeks later, John’s future was signed and sealed. The 26-yearold was officially enlisted with the 24th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery on September 11, 1914.
John was part of the small force of 400,000 soldiers who volunteered for service, over half of which were posted overseas to garrison the British Empire.
Originally from Castlederg in Northern Ireland, John lived in Toryglen and then Fernhill with his wife Sara.
They had eight children who were all brought up in Rutherglen. Shirley, who turns 80 next month, is the only one of his children still alive.
John’s family know little about his service abroad, apart from the fact that he was posted in France and served as an army driver.
Returning home safely when the war finally ended in November 1918, John did not reveal much about the horrors of war to his loved ones.
But his eight children, and many grandchildren, were extremely proud of his brave efforts in WWI.
John’s war medals have remained in the family and are now in the possession of Shirley’s son David McCutcheon, who lives in Rutherglen.
David, a father-of-two, said: “My grandfather was born in 1888 and died in 1972, aged 84.
“A cousin had his war medals and they were eventually passed on to me.
“I don’t know too much about his service in the war, but got help with some research and was given details of when he enlisted and what regiment he served with.
“I’m extremely proud of him.”
War hero The medals awarded to John Branter for his service in WWI