Pupils seek relatives of WWI soldier
Centenary service planned
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.
EXPERT: A book by Moray historian Jill Stewart filled in many details for the pupils.