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big stu

Greatest Sacrifice by a Scottish family?

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big stu

I am talking about the Cranston family of Haddington, East Lothian in Scotland. Forum members have helped uncover service details of this family in previous threads and now that we have built an accurate picture of their loss I'd like to ask whether this family's sacrifice in WWI was the greatest of any family in Scotland?

Out of seven sons who served in WWI, four died and another two were severerly injured. They were invalided out of the War.

The details are:

Alexander Cranston (b 8 February 1879), Royal Engineers (84th Field Company), S/N 103604, Died 26 March 1918, France, A/Sgt

John Buchan Cranston (b 3 April 1882), QOCH (7th Battalion), S/N 5651, Died 16 July 1916, Died France, CSM

James Buchan Cranston (b 1 July 1887), Royal Engineers, S/N 69417, Died 18 May 1916, Died Haddington from Tuberculosis contracted while in Army service

Adam Lindsay Cranston (12 February 1889), Royal Scots Fusiliers (1st Battalion), S/N 40808, Died 13 November 1916, France, Private

William Cranston (b 20 January 1884), 7th Seaforth Highlanders/Labour Corps, S/N 2142/689368, Loss of fingers and eye in battle in France, Private

George McLean Cranston (b 30 September 1892), 8th Royal Scots, S/N 1069, Shell-shocked and severely gassed in battle in France, Lance Corporal

Some of us would be aware of the Souls and Beechey families of England and the Wood Family of Canada. Each family lost five sons in the Great War. But does anyone know of a Scottish family who suffered more than 4 dead and two more severely injured? I want to genuinely know because I wish to convince the local Scottish authorities to erect an appropriate memorial in the Cranston family's honour in order to commemorate the sacrifice. To achieve this goal, I need the underlying reason to be correct.

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dundeesown

Hi

I would say if a family had only one son and lost him in the war it would be just as big a sacrifice to that family.

Gary.

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Malcolm

My local War Memorial was unveiled by a Mrs Barbara Shankie in 1923 she lost both her sons aged 19 and 23 in the war. Losing all your children must have been a great sacrifice.

Aye

Malcolm

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Heid the Ba

Post deleted as it served no useful purpose.

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ianw

I would certainly say that the Cranston's sacrifice merits commemoration.

I say this having tried to get some recognition for the Taylor family of Leatherhead who lost 5 sons - my ambition is limited to get the 5th son's name onto the local war memorial

with his 4 brothers. I think he was excluded because he died in uniform but at home.

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nigelcave
Hi

I would say if a family had only one son and lost him in the war it would be just as big a sacrifice to that family.

Gary.

Interestingly enough, I have a story not entirely to the contrary but certainly illuminating. One of the members of my Order was one of eight children; he lost a brother in 1915. It was obviously a loss to the family, but so was his sister at the age of eight and a brother at the age of four. There was a different attitude to death, I venture to suggest, and how families coped with this. e remembers coming back from school when the news of his brother's death arrived, and being taken into the front parlour where he was told the sad news. So far as I can gather, the family got on with it - his father working, the mother looking after the younger children. Nowadays, with tiny families... But to lose that many sons must really have been almost cataclysmic.

He only mentioned his brother when he discovered that I was interested in the Great War and I got a photograph of the grave at Cuinchy, for which he was eternally grateful.

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big stu

IanW,

I didn't know about the five Taylor boys from Leatherhead, Surrey. So sorry to hear about that loss. But it just goes to show how valuable this forum is, because there is one more family that can now be added alongside the English families of Souls and Beechey and the Wood family from Canada who lost five sons. Hope you do better in your camapign for recognition than I am at the moment.

To the others, I agree that losing any number of sons would be devasting to a family, especially if a family lost its only boy. However, I wasn't looking at the loss from the family's perspective, but from the country's point of view. I don't know of another family in Scotland who lost four sons or more. A research assistant at the Centre for the study of two World Wars at Edinburgh University "believes" that some families in the west of Scotland may have suffered more. She bases her opinion on the fact that several hamlets were depopulated, but this isn't scientific or even reliable. Because some streets were emptied still may only mean several families may have lost a breadwinner or two. It doesn't give us a quantifiable number.

I still wonder, is there another family in Scotland that lost 4 sons (and had another two injured) in World War One?

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dycer

Stuart,

As you know I come from a Family in Haddington which lost two Sons in WW1 and I attended the Town Remembrance Day Service last November.I was also at the Town War Memorial at 11.00 a.m. on Armistice Day so can I offer a pragmatic opinion which is on similar lines to "Heid the ba's" point(now deleted) which basically said your Family should be remembered on the Town Memorial.

The Remembrance Day Service was undertaken with due reverence and dignity both the wreath laying before the Service and the Church Service itself.However,there was only my Family and one other gentlemen at the War Memorial at 11.00 on the 11th and no effort was made by the Town to announce the Two Minute silence e.g. the firing of maroons.

I fully recognise the scale of loss and suffering the First War caused to your Family but I do wonder if an additional Memorial placed in the Town,would in the long-term mean anything to the people of Haddington.You only need to scan various current Threads posted on the Forum to read how some Memorials,all over the World, are constantly being abused.I would stress the Haddington Town War Memorial,although now weather-beaten is within the Church Grounds and well looked after.

Should you feel a permanent memorial should be made to remember the sacrifice of the Cranston Family of Haddington in WW1 would it not be better in the form of a School bursary,History prize or even a Cup awarded at Sports Day?As "Heid the ba" also wrote in his post it is unlikely the the Town Authorities would fund such a token or even a street Memorial and would expect private funding.

I hope you accept this post in the genuine spirit it is written.

Best wishes

George

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David B

Relatives of my family lost two sons out of 3 that joined, however the point is that less than six months after the

second son was KIA their father died. I suspect it was from a broken heart as he wasnt that old, around 50

David

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dundeesown

Hi Nigel.

When I posted I did mean a family with only one son,as in only child.

Gary.

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nigelcave
Hi Nigel.

When I posted I did mean a family with only one son,as in only child.

Gary.

In that case, quite agree!

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big stu

So, back to the original question:

Does anyone know of a Scottish family who lost more than four sons in uniform in World War One?

As an alternative:

Does anyone know of anyone who would know the answer to the above question?

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kinnethmont

Peter and Elspeth Tocher of Aberdeen lost five sons as a result of their being in uniform.

All served in the Gordon Highlanders:

1198 Cpl George Tocher, 1st Gordons Menin Road 8th May 1915

3/5147 Pte John Tocher, 1st Gordons Somme 18th July 1916

10931 Pte James Tocher, 8th/10th Gordons Somme 31st July 1916

5014 Pte Robert Tocher, 4th Gordons Somme 15th Nov 1916

Although he died on 31st October 1923 Peter Tocher's death was due to his service with the Gordons in WW1 (pulmonary TB, uncertain period).

7595 Pte Peter Tocher, 1st Gordons landed in France on 13th Aug 1914 and was discharged unfit on 8th April 1919 with Pulmonary TB due his service.

It is known he was a POW, probably since Mons, and contracted TB during his captivity.

Their father also joined the Gordons but was not passed for active service on account of his being aged 50. Having lost more sons than any other due to the war, he was given the honour of placing the Aberdeen Memorial Roll within the casket on the shrine of the Memorial Court when Aberdeen War Memorial was opened in 1925.

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big stu

Jim,

Very sorry to hear of this family's loss. So sad isn't it?

It is quite understandable that the family would probably have made no distinction between the death of Peter Tocher in 1923 from a war-related disease and the other four boys who were all killed during the War. However, the official "cut-off" date used by the CWGC (31st August 1921) would prevent Peter's death from being added to the "official" statistics of War Dead. In my own family's case as well as the fours Cranston boys who died, two more were severely injured in the Great War and one died twenty years later from the effects of being gassed. In this particular case I know no one would include him as an official war dead statistic. Nor should they.

I understand that you have no connection with the Tocher family and presented the above information to help me in my search for a Scottish family who lost more than four sons in WWI. Nevertheless, I feel quite callous excluding the death of one of the Tocher family's sons merely because he passed away outside some "official" cut-off date. I hope you (and other readers) will understand my feelings.

In summary, the Tocher family of Aberdeen also lost four sons in the War. Thank you for your assistance, Jim. The beauty of this site is that facts can be gathered quickly. To others on this site, I thank Kinnethmont for showing me that at least one other Scottish family (the Tocher family of Aberdeen) also suffered four War dead. So it is obvious that the Cranson family of Haddington were not THE worst affected. Has anyone heard of another Scottish family family that suffered four or more deaths in the Great War?

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kinnethmont
So, back to the original question:

Does anyone know of a Scottish family who lost more than four sons in uniform in World War One?

Stu

Can you please edit and delete some of the details in your last post? I have no connection whatsoever to the Tocher family and cannot see where this was implied.

I am very well aware of the official date used by CWGC ( 31st Aug 1921) but was not aware that that was a date being referenced in the earlier posts, no mention is made of this being the case or that the details required were " war dead " alone. That being the case, the wounded Cranstons would not enter into the toll, and their loss would also be four.

I started my post with this " Peter and Elspeth Tocher of Aberdeen lost five sons as a result of their being in uniform.". I simply wished to detail their loss, and the circumstances.

I intend to delete this post when the changes are in place.

All the best

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