Glenbarr remembers

Glenbarr War Memorial chairman, Colour Sergeant Robbie Semple, and piper Calum O'Hanlon stand at the foot of the cenotaph. 50_c46glenbarr01_robbie semple calum o'hanlon

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Two crosses brought back from Passchendaele were among 11 representing the west Kintyre soldiers who died in 1917 at a Glenbarr remembrance service.

Chairman of the Glenbarr War Memorial Trust and army reservist, Colour Sergeant Robbie Semple, of the 51st Highland 7th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, picked up the crosses after completing a 600 mile cycle from Perth to Passchendaele to mark the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres.

The crosses represent the two west Kintyre soldiers who fell in the battle, Gunner Duncan MacCallum and Private William Hay Durham, both from the Largieside, who were remembered at the Armistice Day service, led by Marilyn Shedden on Sunday.

Marilyn paid tribute to all the ‘men from these hills who fought and died for our freedom.’

She said a little about each of those who died 100 years ago: Peter McKinven, Dougald McDougall, Archibald McInnes, Archibald Galbraith, Donald Galbraith, James McLean, Norman Sinclair Campbell, William Hay Durham, Duncan MacCallum, Archibald MacMillan and Hector Bruce Bannatyne.

Lady in red: The service was led by Marilyn Shedden. 50_c46glenbarr02_marilyn shedden
Lady in red: The service was led by Marilyn Shedden. 50_c46glenbarr02_marilyn shedden

Excerpts from the war diaries of Gunner MacCallum and Private Durham helped make the service all the more poignant.

Gunner MacCallum wrote: ‘The mud is simply awful, worse I think than winter. The ground is churned up to a depth of ten feet and is the consistency of porridge.

‘The middle shell craters are so soft that one might sink out of sight… there must be hundreds of German dead buried here and now their own shells are re-ploughing the area and turning them up.’

Private Durham’s account paints a similarly horrific picture: ‘The floor was littered with men writhing and retching in an agony of suffocation, their eyes streaming with water.’

After two minutes of quiet reflection, in the biting breeze, it was an apt reminder that cold was just one of the awful conditions those who fought in the wars must have suffered, Marion McDonald laid a wreath at the foot of the cenotaph on behalf of the community.

Marion McDonald lays a wreath on behalf of the community. 50_c46glenbarr04_wreath
Marion McDonald lays a wreath on behalf of the community. 50_c46glenbarr04_wreath

The silence was broken by a moving piping solo by 13-year-old Muasdale musician Calum O’Hanlon.

After the service, Robbie said: ‘1917 was the worst year of both wars for the parish of Killean and Kilchenzie with 11 local lads lost.

‘We remembered all the war dead and mentioned the local men that were lost 100 years ago but also our own war hero, Adam Bergius DSO, who passed away earlier this year.

‘Mr Bergius was a leading figure in setting up the Glenbarr War Memorial Trust which owns and maintains the monument. He was the chairman of the trust for many years and paid for the binding of the war memorial book which was written and researched by Duncan McIssac and Jim Daniels.

‘The trust and indeed the parish owe a great deal to these men as we can put lives, houses, faces and families to the names on the monument.’

See pages 6, 16, 17 and 20 for more Remembrance stories and pictures.

11 crosses for 11 men. 50_c46glenbarr07_crosses and wreath
11 crosses for 11 men. 50_c46glenbarr07_crosses and wreath

Glenbarr War Memorial chairman, Colour Sergeant Robbie Semple, and piper Calum O’Hanlon stand at the foot of the cenotaph. 50_c46glenbarr01_robbie semple calum o’hanlon