Pupils seek rel­a­tives of WWI soldier

Cen­te­nary ser­vice planned

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS - BY DAVID WALKER

Pupils at a Mo­ray pri­mary school are ap­peal­ing for rel­a­tives of a lo­cal First World War soldier to at­tend an event in his mem­ory.

Chil­dren at Mosstowie Pri­mary in Mil­ton­duff are hold­ing a me­mo­rial ser­vice to mark the cen­te­nary of the death of Alexan­der Murdoch, a soldier listed on the Mil­ton­duff War Me­mo­rial.

The lance-cor­po­ral was the most re­cent com­bat­ant listed on the me­mo­rial to die, in 1919, and was the only one who died at home and is buried lo­cally at Birnie Church.

He was a me­chanic who served in the mo­tor trans­port ser­vice in France, Ger­many and Bel­gium.

Sig­nif­i­cant de­tails about Mr Murdoch were found in

“The Mosstowie pupils be­came fas­ci­nated by Mr Murdoch’s story”

lo­cal his­to­rian Jill Ste­wart’s book To Ache an Fecht an Fa – The War Graves of the First World War in Mo­ray and Nairn, which de­tailed how the soldier came to re­turn to the vil­lage.

This re­vealed that Mr Murdoch re­turned to his fam­ily home at Clod­dach farm in Birnie on Jan­uary 18 1919 while suf­fer­ing from in­fluenza he had con­tracted on his jour­ney home through France. He died four days later.

The pupils be­came fas­ci­nated by Mr Murdoch’s story and vis­ited Birnie church­yard as part of their re­search on the Mil­ton­duff me­mo­rial.

When they found his grave, they dis­cov­ered it was lean­ing at a dan­ger­ous an­gle and de­cided it needed to be fixed.

They con­tacted Mo­ray Coun­cil and wrote to Ken Kennedy at the lands and parks depart­ment, ask­ing for per­mis­sion to have the grave­stone re­paired.

Mr Kennedy took great in­ter­est in the story and put them in touch with Paul Hen­der­son at El­gin Mar­ble Com­pany. He was very en­thu­si­as­tic about what the chil­dren were do­ing and of­fered to have the grave­stone re­paired free of charge.

Now the Mosstowie pupils are stag­ing a me­mo­rial ser­vice for the fallen soldier at Birnie Church and are ap­peal­ing for any­one who thinks they are a rel­a­tive of Mr Murdoch to get in touch with head­teacher Garry Forgie.

The ser­vice will be around 20 min­utes long with read­ings, singing and pip­ing.

Lo­cal his­to­ri­ans Derek Bird, Jill Ste­wart and Ruth McIn­tosh will be there with the Rev Stu­art Duff, Birnie min­is­ter.

Any­body in­ter­ested is wel­come to at­tend at 11am on Jan­uary 22.

Pho­to­graph by Ja­son Hedges

EX­PERT: A book by Mo­ray his­to­rian Jill Ste­wart filled in many de­tails for the pupils.

Alexan­der Murdoch

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