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St. John's Renfield Church WW2

 
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jrah60



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:22 pm    Post subject: St. John's Renfield Church WW2 Reply with quote

St. John’s Renfield Church of Scotland, 22 Beaconsfield Road, Glasgow G12 0NY

OS Grid Ref: NS 557682



Why a church in Kelvindale should be called St John’s-Renfield can be explained by its history. Two distinguished nineteenth-century city-centre churches, St John’s and Renfield merged in 1923 and the decision was made to move westward to the expanding suburbs and establish a new church in Kelvindale. Architect James Taylor Thomson won the 1927 design competition with his plan for an imposing building in the Modern Gothic style. The church is built on a constrained cruciform plan with a very tall nave, chancel and transepts and lower side aisles. The most notable external feature is the highly ornate, open-work lead flèche which marks the crossing. The external walls are built of stone from Auchenheath near Lanark and the internal walls are of Northumbrian stone. The church was dedicated for worship in January 1931. www.stjohnsrenfieldchurch.org.uk/
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jrah60



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The memorial to members killed in the Second World War was unveiled in 1949 by Mrs. Campbell, the wife of the then Minister, who had lost both sons in the war.



ST. JOHN’S RENFIELD CHURCH

1939 – 1945

TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN LOVING MEMORY OF THOSE
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR


Patrick A. Barr RAF
John Bone RNR
Robert Cameron RAF
Hamish M. Campbell RA
Kenneth N. Campbell HLI
Graham W. Cree HLI
James Miller Dunlop RAF
David K. Hutchison York & Lancs
William Lang RA
Thomas C.A. Reid RE
Robin F. Young R. Signals
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jrah60



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The information in italics was researched by Alan Christie, a member of St. John’s Renfield Church who has given me permission to reproduce it here. The information formed part of a talk Alan gave during the Doors Open Day this year.

BARR, PATRICK ALLAN
Rank: Flying Officer
Service No: 117442
Date of Death: 09/01/1943
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Grave Reference: Plot G1. Front Row, Grave 26.
Cemetery: LISBON (ST. GEORGE) BRITISH CHURCHYARD
Additional Information: Son of James Barr and of Miriam Barr (nee Allan), of Glasgow.

The first airman casualty from Kelvindale was a Hillhead High School former pupil: PATRICK BARR.
Through this casualty we are led to some of the high ways and by ways of the Second World War, now largely forgotten.
The thing that astonishes from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission internet listing for Patrick Barr is where he is buried: Lisbon.
How does a Flying Officer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve end up in a grave in Lisbon the capital of Portugal, which was not only neutral throughout the war but at the farthest western extremity of the peninsula that contains Spain and Portugal? - about as far away from the war zone as you could get without crossing the Atlantic.
Were he buried say in San Sebastián in Spain, just a few miles from France, one could imagine his stricken plane narrowly coming down on the wrong side of the frontier.
We are indebted to the HHS roll of honour for the removal of the veil and at the same time revealing some of these byways of WW2
Pat, as he was known, was 22 when he died. He had left Hillhead in January 1939, captain of the rugby team and a prefect - the roll of honour described him as 'one of the best'.
He began to train as a civil engineer with the LMS railway company and subsequently was enrolled as an engineering student at the University. He joined the RAFVR in May 1941 and in December 1941 he was commissioned as a pilot, age just 20.
"His war service took a turn different from the usual, as he was seconded to serve 'as a civilian' with British Overseas Airways. In that capacity he flew as a co-pilot in unarmed flying boats"
On reflection I realised that e.g. diplomats had to be sent in and out of the likes of Portugal. A neutral country could hardly allow a military aircraft to land. BOAC were in the business of transporting passengers and mail from Southampton & later Poole.
His plane, entitled ‘Golden Horn’, was a Short S26-G class flying boat. It was a large flying boat with non-stop transatlantic capability without re-fuelling.
Only three of this model were ever built - at the war’s outset, and they were used by BOAC to fly to Nigeria.
The Hillhead High School Roll of Honour indicates the dangers that Pat had to encounter:
German infested air across the Bay of Biscay, into the dangerous skies over Malta, at great risk from Vichy French fighters on the West African leg.
Notice also that one of the dangers was 'Vichy French fighters' - it is now forgotten that after France surrendered to Germany in 1940 the regime of Marshall Petain was hostile to Britain and at times British and French forces exchanged fire
His school Roll of Honour concludes Pat's story:
All these perils he escaped, only to meet his death in the quiet river Tagus when, unexpectedly, The Golden Horn crashed on 9th January 1943 when an engine seized and caught fire on a test flight following an engine overhaul.
Lisbon in this era in neutral Portugal has been described as ‘a boiling cauldron of espionage, a busy ant heap of spies and agents’ - one imagines there might have been more behind the crash.


BONE, JOHN
Rank: Lieutenant
Date of Death: 06/07/1945
Age: 39
Regiment/Service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve H.M.S. Drake.
Grave Reference: Panel 1.
Cemetery: NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE (WEST ROAD) CREMATORIUM
Additional Information:

Lieutenant JOHN BONE is our oldest casualty - 39 - and our single connection to the Royal Navy whose part in WW2 was most importantly connected with escorting merchant ships with vital material, whether through the Mediterranean, across the north Atlantic or beyond the Arctic Circle to Russia.
However I have not been able to discover anything of his part in these matters.
He also died after hostilities ceased, on 6th June 1945, and is buried in Newcastle upon Tyne.



CAMERON, ROBERT
Rank: Pilot Officer
Trade: Pilot
Service No: 155800
Date of Death: 03/11/1943
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 10 Sqdn.
Grave Reference: Sec. L. Grave 39.
Cemetery: NEW KILPATRICK (OR HILLFOOT) CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Charles and Christina Hunter Cameron, of Glasgow.

ROBERT CAMERON, aged 22, died on the 3rd of November 1943. He was a pilot officer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, and is buried in New Kilpatrick Cemetery.
I learned something of Bert's story after delivering this talk to the local Old Folk's Club, and then from his uncle Rev Dr Charles Cameron.
Bert, like Miller Reid, was a pilot in 10 Squadron. Flying from Yorkshire, the regular target was Germany – the battle honours read German Ports, the Ruhr, Berlin.
No doubt on a routine mission Cameron's plane had been hit over Germany but he nursed it back to England. I was told that he had got the crew out by parachute and then tried to land it - in the attempt the plane exploded.
Bert was the oldest of five children of Charles and Chrissie Cameron who lived at 6 Lindsay Drive. His father had a wee dairy on Garscube Road.
Bert dies on a Wednesday, and I was told that he had been home on leave the previous weekend and that his death effectively killed his parents.
Chrissie died within a month, of a broken heart and his father dropped dead a year later running for a bus. Three deaths within thirteen months left four young people in the family home.
Rev Cameron tells that his own father Charlie was working as an apprentice electrician at Yarrow's Shipyard at the time when Bert died. After work, he would buy a paper from the man at the street corner. The first thing he would read was the list of the missing and the dead. On this occasion, Bert's name was among them.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CAMPBELL, HAMISH MORAY
Rank: Lieutenant
Service No: 331248
Date of Death: 18/11/1945
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery 117 Field Regt.
Grave Reference: 3. C. 7.
Cemetery: COLOMBO (LIVERAMENTU) CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of James Alexander and Jennie Hamilton Campbell, of Glasgow.

HAMISH CAMPBELL, the second - and final - son / child of the minister and his wife.
He is our link to the one major theatre of WW2 not yet referred to – the war in the Far East against the Japanese. That episode broke out with the attack on the US naval base of Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on December 7th 1941 followed by the surrender of the great Far East British naval base of Singapore in February 1942.
Hamish, born in 1924, had followed the same educational pattern as his brother: Glasgow Academy until age 14 and then on to Fettes College where he would learn of his brother's death.
He left Fettes a year later and the Fettes magazine obituary takes up the story:
“Hamish took a University Short Course in Northern Ireland and passed out among the first eight cadets and was gazetted to the Royal Artillery.
His service took him too many parts of India, and at the end of the war found him in Calcutta en route for the Burmese jungle.
After two months in Burma he was posted to Colombo in what was then called Ceylon, for special training, and it was here on the eve of proceeding to Bangkok that he ran into a bullock cart in a dark patch of the road and was killed.”
By that date, 18th of November 1945 the Japanese too had surrendered after the dropping of the Hydrogen bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August.
We can imagination his feelings and those of his parents back in Glasgow - the war was over, their only remaining child had survived.
And there is one further surprise: although gazetted to the Royal Artillery, at the time of his death Hamish was on the Head Quarters staff of ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association of 'Aint Half Hot Mum fame.
Put ENSA and Ceylon into Google and you immediately learn that Hamish was rubbing shoulders with Gracie Fields, George Formby, Vera Lynn etc.
As I was preparing this talk, David Jacobs died and from his obituary I learned that at the war's end he was in Colombo, working in Forces Radio age 19, with a long and exciting show business career ahead.
Hamish age 21 was buried in the island of Sri Lanka.
The Fettesian said of him: “He had a singularly happy nature, a charming manner, and a cheerful courage which enabled him to face any hardship and discomfort”
Can we wonder that when news of his death reached Kelvindale, 'a great cloud descended on the whole district'?


CAMPBELL, KENNETH NORMAN
Rank: Captain
Service No: 75551
Date of Death: 09/09/1941
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment) 5th Bn. and No. 9 Commando
Grave Reference: Sec. E. Grave 202.
Cemetery: NEW KILPATRICK (OR HILLFOOT) CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of James Alexander Campbell, and of Jennie Hamilton Campbell (nee Cameron), of Glasgow.

Kenneth, who was the elder son of the Kelvindale minister James Campbell, was an officer in the 5th territorial battalion of the HLI (City of Glasgow Regiment) based at Garnethill.
He started at Glasgow Academy, aged 10, in 1929 the year that his father was inducted here – and left in 1933; as he would only have been fourteen it seemed unlikely that he had gone to work. I traced his subsequent education to the Edinburgh boarding school, Fettes College.
His obituary in the Fettes magazine said: On leaving in 1937 he started work in a Shipping Office in Glasgow and – true to his instinctive urge for service – devoted his spare time to the 5th HLI and to the Glasgow Academicals XV.
He would be mobilised with the TA and saw action in the Norway expedition of 1940.
This involved sending British forces by sea to Norway in April when that country was invaded by the Germans, just prior to the Germans invading France.
As was to happen in France, the British campaign was an abject failure – and the force had to be withdrawn with its tail between its legs; in a touch of perfidious Albion the British decision to leave was taken a full week before the Norwegians, fighting valiantly, were informed.
Kenneth was involved in the landing at Narvik in the extreme north of Norway.
He had volunteered for the Independent Companies – he was in No1. These had been formed for guerrilla style operations behind enemy lines.
The Narvik operation was a typical cock-up and Kenneth got caught up in this. A German party were audaciously landed where they were not expected – a small town on a fjord called Hemnesberget. Their movement had been noted but by the time anyone in authority organised interception it was too late.
According to an account I found: A platoon from No. 1 Independent Company fought with determination through the streets, but they could not hope to hold the quay and were forced eventually to make their escape as best they could by boat
It was said Kenneth was lucky to have got away, seeing his friend from Kelvindale, Joe Cousland, taken prisoner.
The Independent Companies are described as returning to Britain 'in considerable disarray'. However in his first action Kenneth had displayed courage, returning promoted to Captain and with a 'mention in despatches'.
Following the retreat from Dunkirk, Britain stood alone. Winston Churchill who had taken over from the disgraced Neville Chamberlain knew that Britain on her own could do little. An invasion of the European mainland was out of the question, but he wanted to show a spirit of resistance - to let Hitler know Britain was still there and to encourage the defeated nations to believe a better day would come.
Churchill called in June 1940 for special raiding forces to be created to harass the enemy - 'butcher and bolt'; they became known as the commandos.
It's not surprising to learn that Campbell was one who came forward to volunteer in response to a request throughout Scottish Command for 'special service of an undefined, hazardous nature'. From those who applied, the Scottish Commandos' leader ruthlessly culled both officers and men he thought to be unsuitable.
Tough, intensive training of an elite force - described as 'the pick of the Scottish regiments' - then began designed to stretch endurance to the limit.
So Kenneth was a tough guy, both mentally and physically, however while taking part in this training, in September 1941, Kenneth died as the result of a motor cycle accident in the Dumfries area. He is buried in New Kilpatrick Cemetery.


CREE, GRAHAM WARDEN
Rank: Major
Service No: 45155
Date of Death: 29/01/1944
Age: 35
Regiment/Service: Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment) seconded to 1st Bn. King's Shropshire Light Infantry
Awards: M B E
Grave Reference: III, D, 8.
Cemetery: ANZIO WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Hugh G. Cree, J.P., and Mary Cree of Glasgow; husband of Betty Reid Cree, of Glasgow.

He is the most senior in rank of the casualties - a Major in HLI (City of Glasgow Regiment) seconded to the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, aged 35 and had been awarded the MBE.
3694 SUPPLEMENT TO THE. LONDON, GAZETTE, 9 JUNE, .1938
To be Members of the Military Division of the said Most Excellent Order:—
Captain Graham Warden Cree, 6th Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment), Territorial Army
The award appears to have been for his part in organising the sudden influx of new territorial recruits.
Cree had been involved in the 1940 retreat through Cherbourg as a captain and by 1940 was a major. His death takes us to the next step in the war.
From North Africa, Italy was invaded with the aim of proceeding up the leg of Italy and on into central Europe.
However Italy is exceptionally mountainous so defence was easy and progress was very, very slow.
A cunning plan was hatched to outflank the Germans by landing a joint American/British force on the west coast of Italy behind the German lines from where it would dash the 40 miles to capture Rome and break the deadlock.
The force was successfully landed on the beaches of the resort of Anzio in the early hours of the morning of January 22 1944.
The Germans were caught unawares but the Allied force commanders hesitated. The Germans didn't - within 48 hours the allied force was surrounded on three sides - the fourth was the sea - by Germans on higher ground - who poured shells into the beach head.
Graham Cree was killed seven days after the landing - on 29th January. He is buried in the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Anzio.
Educated at Glasgow Academy, Graham was married and his father Hugh Cree was a JP.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DUNLOP, JAMES MILLER
Rank: Pilot Officer
Trade: Pilot
Service No: 159470
Date of Death: 15/09/1943
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 10 Sqdn.
Grave Reference: Grave 4.
Cemetery: ECORCEI CHURCHYARD
Additional Information: Son of John Fulton Dunlop and Louise Keiller Miller Dunlop, of Glasgow

Our next airman is JAMES MILLER DUNLOP (known as ‘Miller’) who had lived with his parents at 73 Highfield Drive and attended Hyndland Secondary School.
He was a Pilot Officer (Pilot) in the RAF Volunteer Reserve as part of 10th Squadron. He died on the 15th of September 1943 aged 22.
Trying to get behind the info as presented by the War Graves Commission I noticed that he is buried in France but not in one of the Commission's cemeteries.
He lies in the graveyard of Ecorcei churchyard.
I have seen such graves in French village churchyards: no more than a handful of headstones. This indicates an isolated action and the Commission have left the fallen there when peace came.
Using the internet I discovered that Ecorcei is a very small community deep in the French countryside about mid-way between Paris and the Normandy coast.
Boyhood memories of reading accounts of bombing raids came to the fore and in my imagination I saw Dunlop nursing his plane back from a bombing raid on the Renault car factories on the western edge of Paris, used by the Germans to make armoured cars. I imagined that over the target it had been hit by anti-aircraft fire - only for it to come down close to a lonely village.
I left the story there for some time. However when I came back to it and delved deep using the internet and then the language skills of my half-French daughter-in-law - what a story has been revealed.
Thanks to the internet you can learn a lot with just a few clicks.
Although a small settlement – 322 inhabitants - Ecorcei has a web-site. The mayor is listed with his phone number. Anne-Claire my d-in-law gave him a ring.
In due course an envelope arrived.
In Kelvindale Miller Dunlop is forgotten - In Ecorcei they know a lot about him.
We now have a photo of not just Dunlop but his aircrew.
Summarising the info, I can now tell you that Dunlop had not been involved in a routine bombing raid on the fateful night - though he did die as his plane crashed near a lonely French village - and we now know he died a hero. We now know that on the night of 15 September 1943 Dunlop, age 22, was the pilot of Halifax bomber HR920.10. 1Oth squadron usually flew from RAF Melbourne based in Yorkshire but that night he was part of a very special operation.
He had taken off from Selsey Bill near Portsmouth, one of 369 planes with a very special target: the Dunlop rubber plant in the town of Montluçon in virtually the centre of France. It was Dunlop and his crew's seventeenth mission.
Montluçon was to be blasted by a thousand tonnes of bombs.
Montluçon lay in the southern zone of France not occupied by the Germans and up to this raid the zone had not been disturbed by the RAF because of the sensitive relationship with the Vichy government.
So, why all this attention on Montluçon?
The reason was the state-of-the-art rubber plant produced synthetic rubber at a time when the Germans were unable to import rubber - a vital component in many devices – because of the British naval blockade - also the factory had recently started to produce rubber tires for the German air force.
Dunlop's plane was one of four that failed to return. [Dunlop lost attacking Dunlop]
And it never got to Montluçon.
When the Halifax crossed the French coast instead of having attained 25,000 feet it was flying at 15,000 and so was hit by anti-aircraft batteries.
The right engine took fire but that was extinguished. Then, as Dunlop was in the process of dumping the bombs before gaining height to turn back, a Messerschmitt fighter appeared and its bullets set the bomber alight.
There was a crew of seven and Dunlop gave them the order to jump. However there was a danger that the plane would come down in the Normandy town of L'Aigle so he remained at the controls and heroically succeeded in crashing it away from a populated area - one house destroyed but nobody injured.
Three of Dunlop's crew lost their lives also - two like him in the crashed plane, the other shot at by the German plane as he came down by parachute. They are buried with him in Ecorcei.
The 8th of May is celebrated in France as a public holiday to commemorate the surrender, on that date in 1945, of Nazi Germany. In Ecorcei the graves of Dunlop and his fellow airmen are honoured on that day in a ceremony involving the village school children.
And what of the crewmen who survived?
This opens up other dimensions of the war.
Just as the names on our memorial encompass virtually the whole story of the war, so the experiences of just three airmen tell the tale of shot down flyers who survived.
The parachute of one caught on a bridge and as he dangled there French police picked him up and after an argument among themselves the collaborator won and flyer was handed in to the Germans.
Another who was also saved by his parachute fell immediately into German hands.
For these two the fighting was over and they followed the path of being held in a prison camp deep in Poland until the advance of the Red Army saw them marched west and to eventual liberation in 1945.
However the third airman who parachuted to safety was welcomed by a member of the resistance and he was moved across France and over the Pyrenees to Spain.
This is quickly said but, one of 800 who made the trip, he was involved in being passed from resistance group to resistance group as he was moved from occupied Normandy into the unoccupied zone and finally to the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains. There, in winter conditions, he had to brave the dangers of going up 15,000 feet and then down 11,000.
Having braved these constant dangers, five months to the day from the crash he flew into Prestwick from Gibraltar.


HUTCHISON, DAVID KNOX
Rank: Captain
Service No: 106164
Date of Death: 22/04/1943
Age: 30
Regiment/Service: York and Lancaster Regiment 6th Bn.
Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
Grave Reference: IV. N. 2.
Cemetery: MASSICAULT WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of David M. and Margaret Hutchison of Glasgow; husband of Agnes Elisabeth Hutchison of Cromer, Norfolk. M.A., LL.B.


The next name we turn to is that of DAVID KNOX HUTCHISON, a Captain with the York and Lancaster Regiment who is buried in North Africa, in Massicault Cemetery in Tunisia.
Returning to the story of the war . . . While Britain was not involved in fighting in Europe we did get to grips with Italy and Germany in North Africa.
Given his place of burial my imagination had Hutchison as one of the desert rats that fought in Egypt under General Montgomery to protect the Suez Canal and, after success at El Alemein, chased the enemy into Tunisia where they were forced to surrender, opening up from there the invasion of Italy.
Hutchison had been part of a much less well-known action: the invasion of Algeria - known as Operation Torch - that took place in January 1943. This force of mostly Americans had then entered Tunisia from the west as the desert rats invaded from the east, so the Germans were squeezed in a vice.
On 22 April 1943 the 128th Infantry Brigade attacked Bou Arada. Early progress was good, but when the mist cleared all four battalions were caught in the open under heavy fire, and losses mounted. Hutchison was killed leading his company against an enemy hill position, two weeks after he had been recommended for a military cross.
He died on the 22nd of April near Tunis but the Germans were making their last stand - Tunis was captured on May 12th and North Africa was cleared of Axis forces.
Hutchison, who was 30 at his death, features on the University's roll of honour from which I learned more about him as a person: educated at the High School, he was a partner in his father's law firm, he had been a reserve officer and he was married. His wife was living in Cromer, Norfolk and she too was a lawyer.



LANG, WILLIAM
Rank: Gunner
Service No: 1437791
Date of Death: 19/06/1940
Age: 38
Regiment/Service: Royal Artillery 232 Bty., 74 A.A. Regt.
Grave Reference: Sec. L. Grave 1055.
Cemetery: GLASGOW (LAMBHILL) CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William and Isabella Lang, of Glasgow; husband of Helen Lang, of Glasgow.

WILLIAM LANG was the first of the members to die, and the second oldest.
In 1938, with war clouds gathering, the government doubled the size of the Territorial Army.
Lang was one of those who volunteered for the TA and when war threatened in the summer of 1939, even before fighting started, they were called up.
Lang was a gunner in the Royal Artillery - in an Anti-Aircraft unit head quartered in Bridgeton - and when I first saw the date of Lang's death - 19th of June 1940 and that he is buried in Lambhill Cemetery - I imagined that he had been involved in the retreat thru Dunkirk between 27th of May and 4th of June. Not so.
Lang's is the only name that I have linked to a relative - his son, who was a member of the church. From him I learned that his father, who was already into early middle age, had been forced to go through basic training which he had almost completed, that he basically wasn't up to it and died a natural death from the strain.
At age 38 he left a widow and both a son and a daughter. He was a partner with a firm of steel merchants and I can't but help feel that the country would have been better served with him in a reserved occupation.
Although Lang didn't go with the British Expeditionary Force to the continent, the route of the allied armies in France did touch him however.
I learned from his son that there was such chaos within the army here in mid-June -
equipment had been abandoned, soldiers got back to Britain in rag, tag and bobtail fashion -
the result was that there was no gun carriage available for Lang's burial which took place in Lambhill Cemetery and this disgusted his wife.
Before moving on to another name, it is worth mentioning that Lang was an anti-aircraft gunner. That fact opens up the conflict as having been total war as never before - due to the war in the air - or perhaps from the air - meaning that civilians in the combatant nations were involved, often suffering as much as those in uniform.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

REID, THOMAS COWAN AITKEN
Rank: Sapper
Service No: 910681
Date of Death: 29/04/1945
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers 71 Field Regt.
Grave Reference: 1A. Al. 7.
Cemetery: HAMBURG CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Clifford Aitken Reid and Jean Cowan Reid, of Kelvindale, Glasgow.


THOMAS COWAN AITKEN REID was killed in Hamburg on 29th April 1945, aged 24.
By that date Hitler was besieged in his bunker and was to commit suicide the following day, hardly a window in Germany had not been broken, the western allies and the Russians had met in mid-Germany two days before, the Germans were to surrender and VE Day was to be celebrated on May 8th
But not by Clifford Aitken Reid and Jean Cowan Reid of Highfield Drive, the parents of Thomas.
Cowan was a sapper in the Royal Engineers, killed on the day the attack on Hamburg began; he is buried in the Hamburg War Cemetery and his wasn't a stray death in the closing stages.
Despite surely knowing that the war was lost the Germans fought tooth and nail to the last.
But why did there need to be action in Hamburg which is off on the north west edge of Germany - why as they advanced on Berlin did the western allies not just seal off that area until the inevitable German surrender?
Although Reid was most likely killed by a German, in what was entitled 'Operation Enterprise', the real allied motive was not to kill more Germans but to cross the river Elbe and to occupy the area beyond, before the Russians arrived.
Here we get a glimpse ahead to the up-coming Cold War between the west and the Soviet Union.
The Russians were fighting across Germany. Where would they stop? They could not be allowed to be the ones to free Hamburg, with access to the North Sea or to be allowed to drive up into Denmark and gain control of the entrance to the Baltic Sea.
That area of north Germany had to be controlled at war's end by the west.
It is said that: The Elbe Crossing by the 15th Scottish Division exemplifies the triumph of a well-oiled machine at its very best, efficient, organised and inspired.
In the crossing Reid's Royal Engineers had the role of Bank Controllers; in their hands lay the key to the operation. There were four Engineer tasks: to organise the assembly areas; to control the traffic on the south bank; to actually effect the river crossing and to control the traffic on the north bank.
They were involved in such constructions as Pontoon Bridges and raft ferries.
The operation began on 29 April and long range shelling opened up. An account tells: then about a dozen enemy jet aircraft suddenly appeared. They attacked with bombs and canon, killing eight and wounding twenty two of the Engineers who were busy on the Class 9 Bridge
We do not know if Reid was killed in this or a similar incident but his death came at the end of one era and the start of another.
http://scotsatwar.co.uk/AZ/elbcross.htm


YOUNG, ROBERT FAIRLIE
Rank: Signalman
Service No: 2575695
Date of Death: 22/08/1940
Regiment/Service: Royal Corps of Signals 52nd (L) Div. Sigs.
Grave Reference: Grave 2753.
Cemetery: CAMBUSLANG (WESTBURN) CEMETERY
Additional Information:

I move on to the name of ROBERT FAIRLIE YOUNG - or 'Robin' as he is named on the memorial; that his next of kin wanted the familiar form I find very touching.
Robin was educated at Hillhead High School between 1927 and 1932. In passing it can be noted that he began his Hillhead secondary days in the old building in Cecil Street and ended in the new building in Oakfield Avenue that opened in September 1931.
On leaving he entered the Printing and Lithographic Trade taking continuing classes at Stow College.
He too was a territorial volunteer in the Royal Corps of Signals.
At the outbreak of war he was mobilised and served with the Fifty-second (Lowland) Division, which was composed of territorial regiments.
With Young we pick up the story of the fighting, and with a little remembered operation.
The Division was landed in western France on 14th June a week after the evacuation at Dunkirk. A week later, following the surrender of France, he was part of a less well known evacuation of troops, known as Operation Ariel.
He first had to make a hazardous and adventurous journey to Cherbourg, from which port he sailed to this country in one of the Laird Line coasters.
Not everyone got away. There were casualties and there were others who became prisoners of war for five long years.
Young though had made it - had got back to Britain.
However ... to quote the CWGC: 'On 22nd August 1940, when on special duty in Norfolk, he was killed in an accident to the Wireless Signal Truck.'
The phrase 'on special duty' intrigues and I speculate that, given his place of death and with the Battle of Britain in full swing, he was involved in radar.
Robin, age 25, was buried in Cambuslang (Westburn) Cemetery in his great grandparents' plot.
Alan Christie


John
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