John heard call to arms

Fam­ily proud of medals

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

“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

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