Saturday 10 November 2012

We are so lucky 11th November 2012

Badge of the Seaforth Highlanders

Lest we forget

My Grandfather came from a village called the Muir of Ord in Ross and Cromarty which is in the north of Scotland. He worked for the Highland Railway at Thurso station, which lies right at the end of the line in the very far north of Scotland but was highly thought of and was transferred to the head office in Inverness. In 1914 with war looming and patriotism running high he joined the 1/4th (Ross Highland) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders based at Dingwall in Ross and Cromarty. When war broke out in 1914 they were mobilised for full time war service on 5th August. They moved south, first to Bedford and then onwards to France on 7th November. My grandfather was bayoneted in the stomach during the offensive at Ypres and lay out all night between the lines, gravely wounded but miraculously was rescued the next day, horribly maimed but alive. He was operated on immediately in a field hospital which saved his life, then transferred back to Scotland where he recovered from his wounds and then, almost unbelievably, considering what he had gone through, was sent back to France with the Royal Flying Corps due to the fact he could use morse code. By way of explanation, my grandfather was skilled at morse code because that was the main form of communication utilised by the Highland Railway before he went off to fight for his country. 

When he returned from France for the final time was he given a hero's welcome or even token thanks? Not a bit of it. He went back to Inverness to carry on working for the railway but was told he had no job as he had volunteered to fight and he had been replaced with someone else. His situation was by no means unique. 

I am enormously proud of him and what he sacrificed for his country. Despite his severe injury he lived into his late eighties and for most of his life back in his native Ross and Cromarty, working in the Royal Naval Dockyard at Invergordon. He was wonderfully kind to me as a wee boy and frankly was my hero and still is all these years later. I am grateful to him for the legacy that grants me the luxury of peace and comfort while I think back to what he must have suffered and endured. 

My story is not that special in the grand scheme of things but just a tiny contribution to the huge sadness at such waste and inhumanity, and similar stories can probably be told a hundred thousand times or more by those with personal memories such as mine. We should never forget them and what they did for us. Thank you to all those who fought and especially those who never came back.


  1. I think your story "is that special"

  2. That's a really lovely tribute to Grandad, Ewan. Very appropriate to the day.