DOWN MEMORY LANE: McGrory family remembers

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As Armistice Day centenary approaches, many Campbeltonians will remember ancestors who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War, none more so than Tommy McGrory.

Tommy’s great-grandparents, John and Catherine McGrory, of Kintyre Nurseries, lost three sons, the latter two just one week apart, in separate battles in the closing weeks of the Great War.

All three are commemorated where they were killed and at Campbeltown War Memorial.

Private Denis Patrick McGrory, 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, was killed in action on April  21, 1917, and is commemorated at Achiet-Le-Grand Cemetery, France.

Second Lieutenant John Joseph McGrory, 7th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action at Passchendaele on September 28, 1918, and is commemorated at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium.

Private Charles Peter McGrory, 6th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders, was killed in action at Loos on October 4, and is commemorated at Loos Memorial, France.

The Courier of October 12, 1918, reported the family’s double bereavement stating: ‘Lieutenant McGrory had been leading his men with great determination and indomitable courage when he fell.

‘He was a young officer of the best stamp, thoroughly conversant with his work, and highly considerate of his men, by all of whom he was held in the highest esteem.

‘He was in his 29th year.’

In the same article, the Courier reported that as a soldier, Charles, who had just turned 20, ‘bore himself well, discharging his military duties with zeal and satisfaction, leaving a highly creditable record of efficient service’.

It continued: ‘Like his brother, John, he died a noble death at the battle’s front while championing the cause of honour and fighting for freedom and justice.’

Tommy’s mother’s family, the McKerrals, also suffered loss.

Tommy’s great-grandfather, Private David Robertson McKerral, 1st/5th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, was killed at the Battle of Hazebrouck on April 17, 1918.

He, too, is commemorated at Loos Memorial, France, and Campbeltown War Memorial.

He was 33 years old, and was married with two children, Peter aged three and one-year-old Jenny.

When Peter was older and in poor health, he gave his father’s beret badge to his young grandson, Tommy.

Tommy said: ‘That was what sparked an interest in my great-grandfather’s life.

‘I started to do more research about two years ago before a planned trip to France to commemorate him and other Campbeltonians, as well as British and Commonwealth armed forces personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice.’

Tommy and four friends visited the French First World War memorials last year.

On April 17 this year, the 100th anniversary of  his great-grandfather’s death and his own 51st birthday, Tommy placed a framed tribute at Campbeltown War Memorial.

He said: ‘Given his sacrifice, along with millions of others, I do feel it necessary to keep his memory alive for as long as possible.’

A stalwart of the 16th Argyll (Campbeltown) Scout Troop, where he is known as Baloo, Tommy teaches the young Beavers, Cubs and Scouts the importance of remembrance and respect for those who fought and died to ensure our freedom.

The Scouts will parade at Campbeltown’s Remembrance Day cenotaph service on Sunday November 11.

The McGrory Headstone in Kilkerran Cemetery. 50_cc45mcgrory01

McGrory sons who were killed in the First World War. 50_cc45mcgrory02

Tommy’s tribute to his great grandfather at Campbeltown War Memorial. NO_c45mckerral01