Teen hon­ours rel­a­tives who fought in Great War

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Front Page - ■ Heather Green­away

Pause. For the im­mor­tal dead, Who sowed their bod­ies with a fer­vent glad­ness. That we might reap their spir­its, tread, Through our silent streets in sad­ness. The Haunted Hour Anony­mous, Novem­ber 11, 1919

Stand­ing with his head bowed, 16-year- old Dy­lan McLaren silently hon­ours three mem­bers of his fam­ily who sailed off on the same ship to fight in the Great War.

Vis­i­bly moved, the teenager, from Broughty Ferry, Dundee, lays a wreath in mem­ory of Lance Cor­po­ral James Ar­mour, who died just weeks be­fore the Ar­mistice on Oc­to­ber 15, 1918.

Dy­lan is also re­mem­ber­ing Wil­liam G Scrimger, who sur­vived the Somme and made it back, and John Thornton, who landed in France in 1914 but was sent home be­cause at 45 he was too old to fight.

All three men were will­ing to bravely lay down their lives for king and coun­try and Dy­lan is de­ter­mined their hero­ism will never be for­got­ten and will live on through him.

The Grove Academy pupil said: “I only found out last year from my granny that I had not one but three re­la­tions who were in­volved in World War 1.

“I couldn’t be­lieve it when she pulled out the photo of the three men and told me they all sailed off to France in 1914 but James, who was my great- great­granny’s cousin, didn’t come back.

“I felt even sad­der when I found out that James, who served with the Royal In­niskilling Fusiliers, had made it all the way through to the end of the war only to be shot in Bel­gium just weeks be­fore the Ar­mistice. If only he could have made it a few more days. He was only 22.”

The fifth-year stu­dent added: “Wil­liam, who is my great- great- grand­fa­ther, sur­vived be­ing gassed at the Somme and made it safely back to Dundee, where he was a lithog­ra­pher. He was 24 when he left for France and lived un­til he was 50, when he died from an ill­ness he picked up in the trenches.

“Then, there’s my great- great- great grandad John, who en­joyed the Boer War so much he lied about his age so he could go to war with his nephew James and his son-in-law Wil­liam and keep them safe.

“The truth was un­cov­ered when he reached France and he was sent straight back to Scot­land. He went back to his bar­ber shop in DDundee,

where he hadha left a sign on the door which read, ‘Back after the War’.” Dy­lan was so moved by the roles his fam­ily played in the war, he tracked down James’s grave and in Septem­ber, while on a school his­tory trip, he went and paid his re­spects.

He said: “After do­ing some re­search, I dis­cov­ered James had been laid to rest in Ce­ment House Ceme­tery in Lange­mark, just north of Ypres.

“I didn’t re­alise just how emo­tional and pow­er­ful stand­ing at his grave­side would be. He had lain there for 100 years, yet I was the first mem­ber of his fam­ily to visit him. The enor­mity of it took my breath away.

“I laid a cross with a poppy be­neath the head­stone, in­scribed with the words: ‘ Thank you for your sac­ri­fice, with love from the fam­ily.’ I plan to keep go­ing back out to Bel­gium to visit James’s grave. I will never let him be for­got­ten.”

Dy­lan’s his­tory teacher John An­der­son said: “We’ve been vis­it­ing the World War I bat­tle­fields and ceme­ter­ies for 10 years now and ev­ery trip has been as emo­tional, if not more so, than the last.

“You can see the true mag­ni­tude of the Great War hit the pupils when we go into the first ceme­tery and they see the row upon row of crosses.

“It re­ally hits home when stu­dents like Dy­lan can lead us to the grave of one of their re­la­tions and are able to talk about them with some pas­sion.”

He added: “Grove Academy lost 93 pupils in the Great War and as a school we do what we can to en­sure they and all the other men who gave their lives are re­mem­bered.”

Dy­lan’s granny Norma McLaren, 72, is proud of her grand­son for hon­our­ing their fam­ily. She said: “I had tears in my eyes when he told me what he had writ­ten on the cross he had left on James Ar­mour’s grave. It was such a lovely trib­ute.

“My grand­fa­ther Wil­liam and great­grand­fa­ther John mirac­u­lously sur­vived the war. If only James had been able to dodge that bul­let, he would have made it home too.

“Thanks to Dy­lan, James’s mem­ory and that of Wil­liam and John live on and hope­fully will con­tinue to do so through his chil­dren and their chil­dren.”

When Dy­lan takes part in to­day’s two- minute si­lence to mark the cen­te­nary of the end of World War I, he will once again think of the brave trio.

I plan to keep go­ing back to visit James’s grave

TRIB­UTE Dy­lan with grand­mother Norma, top. Above, with class­mates in Ypres. Right, James, Wil­liam (seated) and John be­fore set­ting off for war. Far right, James’s grave

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