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Remembered Today:

Possible non-commemoration


Lost in Tilloy

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I’ve been researching the Great War Memorial at Corstorphine in Edinburgh and have come across a couple of cases that might potentially be non-commemorations. The first man I would like to put forward for consideration is:

Private 1325, Alexander Blaikie, 7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, died 23/11/1916.

Pte Blaikie’s service records exist in WO364 and are on Ancestry.co.uk. His medal card exists also and reveals that he was awarded the 1915 Star, BWM and VM, having entered France as his first theatre of war on 18/02/1915. His medal card also states ‘Dis: 09/10/1916.’

Pte Blaikie was born in Corstorphine in 1891 and he was an engineer by trade. The death certificate from the Registrar General for Scotland states that the cause of death was ‘Paraplegia from Gunshot wound 1½ years.’ He died whilst in the care of Ralston House in Paisley, which I believe was a home for paralysed soldiers and sailors. His parents were Thomas and Jane Blaikie of 18 Forth Street, Alloa although the family address at the time of his death looks as though it was 33 Fenton Street, Alloa.

He had enlisted into the 7th A&SH on 09/02/1911 at Alloa. He was mobilized on 05/08/1914 and went to France with his battalion on 18/02/1915 and subsequently received a gunshot wound in the back on 25/04/1915 whilst his unit was attacking Hill 60. The bullet spilt his spinal cord.

He was cared for in a number of hospitals and was finally discharged under Para 392 XVI King’s Regulations on 27/09/1916. A report from a Medical Board states “In action 25.4.15 at Hill 60. Total paralysis of movement from hips to toes.” The report goes on to describe the man’s terrible situation and bodily suffering which no doubt contributed to his death [Cystitis. Inflammation of bladder. Septicaemia].

What is also interesting about this file is that it contains enquiry letters from the man’s sister which are dated 06/08/1992. I’m not sure if the means that the lady concerned was asking for details in order to make a case to the CWGC back then or if she was just asking for service information about her brother.

I would appreciate comments as to whether or not this case should be submitted to the CWGC.

Regards

LIT

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My goodness bullet split spinal cord! Poor sod must have died the most awful death bless him.

Sounds like you have two dead certs (no pun intended), well done. Another 2 coming home... :D

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LIT

I agree that he appears not to be commemorated by CWGC. The nature of his death (and the evidence supporting it) makes it a rocking certainty that he will be accepted by the MoD if his name is submitted.

If you would like the GWF's In From the Cold Project to submit it on your behalf (under the arrangements we have in place with CWGC/MoD), may I ask that you make direct contact with Terry Denham. Seeing as his death was at home, we may already have him in the process following our cross-checks with Soldiers Died in the Great War but , if not, Terry can take it from there.

Suggest you also outline the other case to Terry at the same time. I know he can't access his computer for a couple of days so don't worry if you don't get an instant reply.

John

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  • 2 months later...
I've been researching the Great War Memorial at Corstorphine in Edinburgh and have come across a couple of cases that might potentially be non-commemorations. The first man I would like to put forward for consideration is:

Private 1325, Alexander Blaikie, 7th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, died 23/11/1916.

What is also interesting about this file is that it contains enquiry letters from the man's sister which are dated 06/08/1992. I'm not sure if the means that the lady concerned was asking for details in order to make a case to the CWGC back then or if she was just asking for service information about her brother.

I would appreciate comments as to whether or not this case should be submitted to the CWGC.

Dear LIT,

I am one of Alexander's nephews, and the sister you mention was my mother; she died in 1994. When she found out that she could gain access to Alexander's war records, she decided to do so. We wrote to the Ministry of Defence in 1992, and later received copies of various documents regarding his service.

Alexander was the oldest in the family, and she was the youngest, being born in 1908. Her memories of "Alec" are therefore few since he was away at war during her early childhood. However, she told me of one strong memory - that of visiting Alexander with her mother while he was in Ralston House. I believe he died in November 1917 rather than 1916, as he was interred in the family plot in the graveyard of Corstorphine Parish Church in November 1917.

As to whether Alexander is a possible non-commemoration, I am not sure. I believe that his name is on the Corstorphine War Memorial, but I don't recall having personally seen it. He is listed as such on a record of the Memorial's inscriptions at http://www.angelfire.com/ct2/corstorphine/index8.html. I don't know if any other official acknowledgement could be or has been made.

In any event, thank you very much for raising the issue. As he was the eldest son, his death was a great loss to the family who by then had fallen on hard times. It is good to know that he is still remembered.

With kind regards,

Derek Blaikie Cornish

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Hello Derek,

Welcome to the GWF. :D

I'm sure that LIT will be very happy that you have taken the time to get in touch like this...

I can confirm that it appears he is indeed a genuine non-com. The Corstorphine War Memorial is a CIVIC tribute NOT an OFFICIAL one.

Herewith a detailed explanation showing the differences between an OFFICIAL commemoration and a CIVIL commemoration. I wrote it for a newsletter years ago.

Official Commemoration .v. Civic Commemoration

It is absolutely imperative that you understand the difference between an Official Tribute and a Civic Tribute. This is not always understood and can lead to utter confusion. Each casualty of the war should have an official commemoration (paid for and maintained by the government) – this can be in the form of a headstone where they were buried or in the case of men whose remains were never found or identified, an entry on one of the government’s memorials to the missing men. A civic commemoration is a private tribute often funded by parish council’s and local authorities where a man hailed from or was employed. The men’s names that appear on private (civic) tributes will more often than not also appear on an official tribute somewhere else. Sometimes we come across men’s names on local civic tributes who do not have any form of official commemoration. It is these men who will take priority because this means the country they died for has forgotten their sacrifice! Try not to get the two confused.

The vast majority of men whose names appear on a civic tribute should ALSO have an official tribute. If not then it’s possible their name has been forgotten! If you are transcribing a civic war memorial and come across a name(s) that you can’t trace on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission searchable website it’s possible (even probable) that you have discovered one of these men! Unfortunately the authorities will not assist you. It’s up to you alone to get the record put straight. If you decide you want to do this, we shall be happy to assist you in any way we possibly can. Just get in touch with us.

This is a good example of confusion between a civic and official commemoration - Some people in Medway seem to under the mis-guided impression that the Chatham Naval Memorial is in fact the town’s civic tribute to the fallen men of Medway and surrounding areas! Of course this is nonsense, the Chatham Naval Memorial is in fact an official military memorial to the fallen sailors from ships that were based at Chatham during the war. The vast majority of sailors mentioned on it came from all over the UK and it’s Dominions.

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Hello Derek

Wonderful to hear from you and to get a deeper insight into Alec's life.

The good news is that Alec's case for being included on the Commonwealth War Graves Website has been accepted and if you click on the link below you should see it.

http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_detail...sualty=75227993

You've also given me new information for where he is buried. I did contact Edinburgh Council to ask them to search for his records in Corstorphine but they said he wasn't on their records. I will try and visit the site and see if I can find the stone you mention. I will then pass this to CWGC and they can update where he is buried. He is of course on the Corstorphine memorial and I could post you a photo of that. He might also be on the Alloa memorial but I don't have a copy of that.

With regards to his death date, the death certificate from Scottish Register House in Edinburgh definitely has 23rd November 1916 as his date of death. I'd be happy to e-mail a copy to you if you wish.

I should say also that his service papers are now on Ancestry.co.uk.

Great to hear from you. Just 'PM' me if you want me to send you the scans.

Regards

LIT

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LIT

well done

Chris

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Hello Neil,

Thank you for the welcome, and for explaining the difference between Official and Civic Commemorations. I am most grateful to all of you on behalf of Alexander. Your determination to see that his sacrifice, and that of all his comrades-in-arms, is officially recognised is admirable, and much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Derek

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Dear LIT,

Thank you very much for spotting that Alexander had not been officially commemorated, and for putting his case to the CWGC. It is good to know that he will eventually be added to the Brookfield Memorial. These acts of recognition are so important, not just for the immediate families and their descendants, but also for the regiments concerned and for the country.

I can clear up a few more details:

I don't know whether Alec's name was on the Alloa War Memorial as well. I'll be sure to visit it next time I am in Scotland to take a look.

> His parents were Thomas and Jane Blaikie of 18 Forth Street, Alloa although the family address at the time of his death looks as though it was 33 Fenton Street, Alloa.

My mother left some recollections of her childhood during WW1, and it looks as though they moved house at around the time that Alec was at Ralston House.

You are quite right about his date of death. In fact I have it right myself in one place, but was looking at my family history database where many of the burial dates were originally copied from a privately circulated record of Corstorphine Old Parish Churchyard monument transcriptions. Evidently either the transcribers made a mistake or the monument itself has the wrong date on it.

As to where the Blaikie graves are located in the churchyard, they are very close to the path and between the church porch and the wall of the church containing the north window. There are Blackies and Blaikies buried there (same family, apparently).

Alexander's name was added to his father and mother's gravestone at some point. This is what the transcribers noted: "Thos Blaikie d. (22?).8. 1931, 70, w Jane Dickson d. 3.2.1941 78, ss Thos Dickson b. 14.1. 1893 d. 5.2.1898, Alex d. wounds 23.11.1917". I have photos of all the gravestones somewhere (safely mislaid), taken when we had one of the lairs opened to receive my mother's ashes.

My mother's little journal stops in mid-sentence: "When the war ended I was 10 and Jean was out of work. Thing's weren't too good as Helen too lost her job. The men were coming back from the war and it was only right they should have the jobs which the women had filled whilst the men-folk were at the front. Thousands of young men didn't come back and thousands more came back disabled in some way. It was a dreadful war and poverty was rife..."

All the best,

Derek

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Derek

Pte Alex Blaikie's name is also recorded on the Alloa War Memorial.

See: Allloa War Memorial

Having been accepted by MOD he is also enlitled to have his name added to the A & SH roll of The Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh.

The criteria for inclusion is that he must have been:

"A member of the Armed Forces of the Crown or of the Merchant Navy who was either a Scotsman (i.e. born in Scotland or who had a Scottish born father or Mother) or served in a Scottish Regiment and was killed or died (except as a result of suicide) as a result of a wound, injury or disease sustained (a) in a theatre of operations for which a medal has been or is awarded; or (B) whilst on duty in aid of the Civil Power."

Send me a PM for contact details, if you do not have them.

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Derek

Pte Alex Blaikie's name is also recorded on the Alloa War Memorial.

See: Allloa War Memorial

Having been accepted by MOD he is also enlitled to have his name added to the A & SH roll of The Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh.

Send me a PM for contact details, if you do not have them.

jas -

Thank you very much for details of where to find the Alloa War Memorial photos. I'll send you a PM about A & SH contact details.

All the best,

Derek

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  • 1 month later...

Just to provide a further follow-up. Thanks to jas I was able to contact the Trustees of the Scottish National War Memorial. With all the documentation I had by that time - the MoD's letter to my mother, messages on this forum, and full medical records from ancestry.com - I was successful in making a case to the Trustees. I received an answer today from the Secretary that Alexander's name "...has been added to the Great War Roll of Honour of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders." His name will not actually appear for some time on the copy of the Roll on display in the Memorial, or on the web site Rolls, but it is nice to know that this, too, is now in the pipeline.

Once again, thank you everybody - and, in particular, LIT who started the whole effort to secure Alec's official commemoration - for all your work. My only remaining task is to make sure that Alec's headstone is secured properly back on to its pedestal, from where it became detached some time after I left the UK. That is in hand and should, all going well, be completed by Spring.

All the best and good luck with your important mission,

Derek

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  • 2 years later...
  • 2 years later...
Guest Corstorphine War Dead

Hi

I know this is maybe a long shot as the original message was left so long ago.

I am researching, foor The Corstorphine Trust, the War Dead for Corstorphine, a small village now part of west Edinburgh.

I noticed you said you have researche this and I was wondering what details you have research and that we might be able to collaborate with what we both have

Regards

Kevin

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