Re­mem­ber­ing Pri­vate Ste­wart

A young gar­dener who was one of an extended fam­ily which lost men in both world wars

The Oban Times - - THE GREAT WAR -

One Ar­gyll fam­ily has a remarkable col­lec­tion of arte­facts for a mem­ber who died in ac­tion in France as a pri­vate in the High­land Light In­fantry.

Mary Hen­der­son and her son Iain shared their fam­ily’s col­lec­tion of mem­o­ra­bilia re­lat­ing to Lach­lan Ste­wart’s death.

A gar­dener on the Fas­na­cloth es­tate, he had only been in France for two months when the fam­ily heard he had died of wounds re­ceived days be­fore.

A pho­to­graph of the young sol­dier, who had proudly grown and waxed his mous­tache in a pop­u­lar mil­i­tary style, smiled out from a pho­to­graph re­pro­duced along with his obit­u­ary in The Oban Times.

They still have the printer’s proof from The Oban Times, on a sheet of newsprint, along with his me­mo­rial plaque; th­ese were made from bronze and amongst the dark hu­mour of the serv­ing sol­diers were known as the ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ or ‘Widow’s Penny’. More than one mil­lion of th­ese were made.

The im­me­di­ate next of kin re­ceived this along with a scroll con­tain­ing a mes­sage from King Ge­orge V.

Sadly, th­ese were awarded right up un­til 1921 as many ser­vice per­son­nel con­tin­ued to die from their in­juries.

Lach­lan was the great-un­cle of Mary Hen­der­son, great-grea­tun­cle of Iain, and great-great-great-un­cle of Jen­nifer.

Jen­nifer, Iain’s daugh­ter, be­lieves she is the only one of the fam­ily to have vis­ited the grave of one of the McBean broth­ers, which she did when a pupil at Oban High School, dur­ing one of the an­nual trips to the war graves.

Lach­lan was re­lated to Mary McBean, af­ter whom Mary is named. Mary McBean was the sis­ter of the three McBean broth­ers who lived in and around Taynuilt and In­ver­awe who all died in the war. Their mother Christina was in­vited to un­veil the Taynuilt war me­mo­rial which bore the name of her sons John, Wil­liam and James.

‘We have all th­ese things and they are not kept on show at all; the centenary has brought all this back again,’ said Mary.

Iain says he finds it hard to com­pre­hend the lives of th­ese young men and what they must have thought, as they were taken from the peace of the High­lands to the hor­rors of war.

‘To­day, you just can’t get your head around it, can you? My mum’s fa­ther was Donald and his mother was Mary McBean the sis­ter of the three Taynuilt men who were killed in the First World War and then she also lost a son in the Sec­ond World War at El Alamein.’

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